Stroking

Aase May 17 2012 (2)

I want to be close to her. It is the same as before. Too far. Too far away. I think of her, semi-paralysed, out-cold, wanting oblivion. How can I know that? How can I know anything?

We talk about dying, he and I. His mother was a year younger than her, 93. She shrank to almost nothing. A frail tissue of thing, just skin and bone. And not much skin. She stopped eating weeks before. Just liquid. That perpetual cup of tea, brought on a trolley by some noisy but kind carer. What happens when you don’t eat, I ask, does the body still….? Yeh, he says, there was poo in her nappy when she died. The hospital told me that she isn’t on a drip. Isn’t eating, isn’t drinking. It’s the Liverpool pathway, he says. Is that what it’s called? Really. A preparation for dying. There is nothing more we can do for her, the nurse says over the phone, so she’s gone back to the home. Palliative care. Turning the virtually-comatose body, keeping it clean, changing its nappy.

She tells me she will give her a big hug on my behalf. It isn’t the same. I want to touch, to comfort, to say all that I want to say about how wonderful I think she is. Was. Is. Remarkable. They all were. Remarkable women. And her too. Even if she terrified me. I think of her daily.

She used to make my sister sit at the table when we’d all ‘got down’ in front of her gone-cold food. It was excruciating. A battle of wills. Years later she told me her parents used to do the same to her. The unkindness perpetuates.

She is the last. The last thread. The last intimacy. Will I ever return?

 

I struggle to write it. And yet, I know I must. Let it percolate, he says. Yes. It will come. It will come.

 

Stroke seems such a kind word.