Monday, July 4, 2016

In Sickness and in Health

     Its always heartbreaking to hear that someone one knows is ill . It is especially sad when it is someone one used to be close friends with but one no longer is friends with. Even worse if this person was not ill one would be trying one;s darnedest to steer clear of.
     The first stage one goes through is anger that this person has to be sick. They always seemed to love the attention of being the sick one anyway , but now they are really sick. It can make a person feel like all their compassion for them as the sick person who liked to milk the sympathy card has been long depleted. But now they really are sick.  %&*.  One knows its not right to feel this way. Of course there is also denial. Maybe they really aren't as sick as it seems. Maybe or hopefully they are yet again  exaggerating . But in one's heart of hearts one knows they aren't exaggerating.
       Then there is guilt. There is the fear that when one does actually visit this ex-friend that they will not be happy . They will be angry at how the friendship had deteriorated. In sickness there are few filters left.
       One waits. One prays. One hopes the decree will be reversed . One hopes this ex-friend will get better. But they don't . They get worse. Time is running out and one knows one has to face the music. One has to visit them . Not because of possible future regrets, but to honor that past friendship.
      Visiting someone in hospice is one of the most deeply depressing things to do. What does one say to someone who is waiting at death's door? It helps to look online for hints of what to say to someone in an advanced stage of cancer. It helps, but it does not totally prepare a person for what one is about to encounter.
      It is surreal to encounter someone stripped of there memories but with their personality remaining. Perhaps they can really remember but they cannot express their thoughts anymore. It is hard to tell. Not sure if one is recognized but not sure that one isn't. For the first ten minutes she does not speak at all. So I just talk. She is shaking. Its hard to take in. She tries to tell me what has happened to her and how its for the best but she cannot fully express it. She is frustrated. Considering all she has been through she looks very good.  The nurse says she does not know what she is saying when my friend seems agitated at me for not understanding her questions, but she cannot find the words. Maybe she really did have recognition because she very clearly says  that no one really knows the real her and that she really is a very fragile soft person. This was something that she would have said  had she been her usual self.  She tries to ask if it seems like she is out of it but the nurse interrupts her and says that she doesn't know what she is saying . She argues back and then stops. It seems she does understand .She keeps tapping her wrist . She wants to know the time. Is glad to know its not too late. When the nurse asks her how to say amen in Hebrew she perks up. The nurse does not think she knows what is going on because she does not know her. When she asks her questions she answers partially and I finish her sentence when the nurse keeps pressing her.  She nods when I answer for her.
     Her being in this state sort of gives others time to say goodbye. Then again, it seems cruel to say goodbye to someone who may not understand that this is goodbye. It seems cruel to try to make amends when the person can hear but not kick back.
      When I left I shook her hand. She gave a firm handshake. I hugged her and said. abi gezunt. and she firmly replied abi gezunt back. From her response I think that she was glad that I visited. I really could not say goodbye. It was just too sad.

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