the day has passed by at a snail's pace, even though we all slept in a little... with the hush of freshly fallen snow outside, it felt nice to stay in bed and just listen to the quiet.
my sweetheart and his father went out to shovel the walkways and scrape the snow off the vehicles... bringing back into the house with them the scent of cold fresh air and snow, if only for a moment.
the house smells of decay... that is not entirely unusual, as we often find fruit decaying on the counters when we come to visit, stale laundry and uncleaned bathrooms. i have passed the day much as i always do when we come here. cleaning a little here, doing a little laundry there... trying not to attract too much attention or risk being asked to stop.
we've watched some movies and played some cards... i have played the piano for my mother-in-law several times throughout the day, whenever i am alone in the house with her.
she cannot really communicate anymore, though she moans constantly when she is awake. when she does talk she often calls out to her deceased sister... or mumbles prayers in spanish. she does not seem aware of me when i talk to her, and i don't know what more to say.
so i play for her.
my sweetheart is watching some Chinese zombie movie in our bedroom... the zombie moans from the tv drift into the living room to accompany the moans coming from her bedroom.
somehow that feels quite alright at the moment.
my love and admiration for my husband swells each time i watch him tend to his mother. he washes her and dresses her, helps the nurses to change her soiled bedclothes, soaks a small sponge in water or juice and holds it to her lips so she can moisten her mouth without choking. he is so gentle with her.
he saves his anger and frustration for his father... who is also struggling to find his way through watching his best friend and love disappear before his eyes.
each time she asks for something to drink, hope lights his eyes as if this sip would miraculously put her back on the path to good health. each time she has a moment of lucidity and speaks to him as though she knows him, he makes fresh plans for their common future -- like buying a smaller house up north so it would be easier to care for her and their rental properties -- and then he deflates when she inevitably slips back into the moaning darkness.
the house is heavy with decay... no amount of cleaning products or air fresheners can overcome the scent of her body failing, no amount of comforting words or deliberate conversation can lift the atmosphere of sadness and anxious anticipation, no amount of curtains being drawn to let in the sparkling winter light can bring light to heavy hearts.
there are moments where i feel like an impostor here. not that i am unwelcome... but that i am not a part of it. in some ways that is true. this family has operated as a complete unit for decades... i have been a part of it for only a couple of years. it is not mine... and my feelings are somehow peripheral. yet her passing will impact my life profoundly. has already impacted my life profoundly...
her illness has created new space into which my relationship with my husband has grown and deepened. for that i am grateful. but it pains me to see the toll it takes on him. i know that i too will live with the manifestations of his grief when she passes. my children will never know their father's mother... and that makes me sad. i know the idea of that makes him sad too.
the fallout of her passing will impact his relationship with his father and sister... at this point, it could just as easily fall on the side of a negative impact as a positive one... for reasons i am only beginning to understand. however their relationships may change, that will define my future relationship with both my father-in-law and sister-in-law (and her family) as well.
coming from a very close family, i cannot help but hope that this brings them closer together... that it helps them to find new ways of understanding and relating to each other. because i long for that closeness... maybe that is just selfish, but there it is.
the last time i was here, i lay with her on her bed to watch the inauguration of Barak Obama. she was so excited by the potential for change that he brings. it amazed and humbled me when she held my hand and talked to me about how happy she was that Francisco had met me, how she hoped we would share a long and happy life together... about how happy she was to have lived so see both her children happily married, and to have met her grand daughter.. about how she had always hoped to die in her sleep, but now she was ready to go any time.
and then, without a moment's silence to let that sink in... she commented on how cute the Obama girls were and how she wondered what kind of puppy they would finally choose when they were settled into life in the White House.
i am so grateful to have known her.
without wishing her any harm, and because i love her... as i listen to her moan, and look into her bedroom to see her wasted body and gaunt face, i hope that her passing comes very soon.