I have avoided writing this post for a while now, even though I have needed to write it for quite some time, for sanity's sake. In the hopes that things would turn around, and with the need to keep some privacy sacred for our family, I have kept it inside. But it doesn't really matter now, because it's clear and inevitable that Edna is dying.
I have not written sooner because she has been one of my blog followers since its inception. She's one of my biggest fans, period, and not just in the blogosphere. She has read regularly until recently, and we have all been keeping up the illusion that she was getting better, because we didn't want her to give up hope. We have made a concerted effort to keep up appearances, both for her and for the public. Not because we were in denial, but because we never wanted her to think she was dying. It's a decision I haven't always been comfortable with, because even though I know that she has no amends to make and no wrongs to right in her life, and because I agree with my dad when he says that she has shown us every single day how much she loves us, I want the chance to make sure she knows how much we love her. The thing is, though, in spite of the fact that no one has told her what's happening, she knows, at least subconsciously. In a moment of clarity tonight when we were alone, she said, "I know there's nothing they can do to help me. I know I'm dying." When I asked her to repeat what she said, she drifted back off into sleep. I have not told my father that, because he takes solace in the fact that she doesn't know.
Tonight I sit in my parents' living room, watching Edna sleep her morphine-induced sleep in the hospital bed and Dad give in to his utter exhaustion on the couch. Throughout this vigil, which has so far lasted since Friday, my sisters and I have taken turns staying here with them...partly because we want to be here for every possible lucid moment that she has until the end, because we would not be able to live with ourselves if we weren't here at the end, and because Dad can't stand the thought of being alone when it happens.
We have all been on an emotional roller coaster for about a month now...from the time we first got the adjusted prognosis. The troops have been rallied several times when it seemed like time was short...and then something would change and we would stand down for a day or so. I have been back and forth through the stages of grief many times now, to the point where I have thought several times that I had no more tears left. I'm wrong about that every time.
It's hard for my brother and sisters and me to watch our dad going through this. We all wonder about how he's going to manage when she's gone. While we all sort of lean on each other in times of crisis, she has been his rock, his constant, his center. And while we all completely sympathize and understand when he has his meltdowns, there's a part of me that wants to not have to be the strong one, the practical one. The luxury of wallowing in my grief is something I just don't have, for Dad, for my sisters especially, and for Andrew.
Throughout all of this, my need to protect Andrew from what's happening, and from what will happen, has been my overriding emotion. He was crushed when my Nannie died last December, and he didn't have a close relationship with her. Andrew loves his grandma fiercely, and she him. I suspect he must know something, but so far he hasn't asked about the possibility of her dying. I dread the conversation, and although I have tried my best not to hide things from him, that's a topic that hasn't been breached. I have been neglecting him through the last few weeks, and that's starting to take a toll on me as well. He and James have definitely had a lot of quality time, but at my expense, ultimately.
I don't know how much longer this will go on, and that's a huge part of the struggle. We're stuck in limbo, not knowing which way to feel. Looking at her right now as she sleeps, it's hard to fathom that she's slipping away before me. A booklet that hospice provided about the dying process put it as being "with one foot in each world," and that's exactly how it seems that she's existing.
I took tomorrow off from school. I need to be here, but I also need to focus my energies on getting through this. Tonight will be a late night, and I'm already exhausted, physically and mentally. My nerves and emotions are frayed...which is most likely why the news that a former student who was in a car accident on Monday morning is brain dead and being taken off life support tonight caused me to break down in near hysterics, and why I almost went off on our moronic janitor for standing around being stupid and trying to talk to me about shit I didn't care about. Oh, and it's definitely the reason I called the local busybody and yelled at her about keeping her mouth shut when she heard and repeated smalltown rumors about Edna's condition. Well, wait, maybe that was just for fun.