Six months. That’s how long it’s been since I watched you die. I’ve struggled with how to memorialize you, your life, your art, your imprint. I am still struggling.
The other day, Baby Girl and I were doing something we often do – standing at the kitchen counter, having a beer, sharing our day. I stared at her hands. “You have Carolyn’s fingers,” I said, and had a little cry. Baby Girl pointed out how her one toe was just like yours too. Just one.
And that’s where I find you. Little daily reminders of you. There’s been no earth-shattering, overwhelming sense of loss. Not yet. Maybe because there was that six-year build up. And that last seven weeks of watching you die a little bit every day.
I keep remembering the day I gave birth to Baby Girl. Lots of time, the doctor said, so Mom left the delivery room to go to the airport and get you. By the time you both arrived, surprise! Baby Girl had decided to pick up the pace and there she was, in all her gooey glory, ready to meet her Auntie. You’d missed the moment.
Hah, I really got you that time.
It reminds me of your last hours. You’d been suffering from terminal delirium, they had sedated you. You’d been “asleep” for a couple of days. I stayed with you, listened to you breathe, counted the hippopotamuses in between and fretted when it took one more before an inhale. Probably tomorrow they said. Maybe the day after that.
So some of your entourage went home to get some rest, including little J who had been sleeping in that hard chair in the corner of your hospice room and needed a real bed. Big J went to be with his babies, your beloved grand babies, fully knowing it may be the last time he’d see you. Me and middle J and that doctor girl he married stayed, opened a bottle of scotch, and toasted you. A nurse came in. It won’t be long now. Probably an hour or so.
Huh? What happened to tomorrow?
So I called everyone to come back, and your middle J went for a quick smoke. Before anyone had time to arrive, and with just me and doctor girl on either side of you, that’s when you decided to go. It was not an hour. It was two minutes.
Good one, systir dear. You really got me that time.