As you can gather from the above comment, we did not arrive too late to see Mark's grandma. What's even better is that we did not arrive too late for her to see us and know who we were and say she was glad we'd come. Apparently she was confused earlier in the week, but when we were there, she greeted everyone by name and was even able to make a few attempts at humor, which were much appreciated by all of us, I think. I wore a lavender dress for her -- she loves all shades of purple -- and she noticed and said it was a pretty color. She noticed the purple flowers Sarah brought, too.
It is one thing to hear that someone is dying and another to see her in her hospice bed, too weak to sit up. In a great deal of pain. To know in our bones that she isn't getting better, and that if she does stay the same for a good deal of time, it will not be a mercy. Mostly we don't find ourselves in situations where we know that we won't see our loved ones again alive -- but if we see her again alive when we return in August, it will mean many, many more days of suffering for her, and I have to think it unlikely. We went through yesterday knowing that the chances we will see her again were very slim. The hospice is not aimed at prolonging her life; it's aimed at her comfort. She isn't taking medications other than those that directly act to make her more comfortable.
The hospice is lovely. It's small and well-decorated, and it doesn't smell like sick old people, nor like medications, nor like industrial cleaning products. There are somewhere between eight and twelve people in her area: few enough that the staff can care for her fairly intensely when she needs it. This was the right decision. Apparently Mark's grandpa went in for cataract surgery this week (we didn't find out until we got here to Milwaukee Thursday night), and he was clearly wearing himself to a nubbin trying to keep her comfortable, and it wasn't working. He isn't a professional. Sometimes our love needs a trained supplement. He can still come in and visit her night and day if he wants to, and he clearly does, but he won't have her confused, hurting, wanting to go home when she is home. She says this is the right place for her to be, and I believe her.
That doesn't make it easy. Sometimes the right thing to do is no fun at all to live through.
I'm glad we went. I'm keeping it together right now, but I'm sure I'll have my moments, and Mark will have his, and everyone else in the family will have theirs. None of this is over yet. I don't know when to hope it will be. I don't think any of us knows. We don't want her to suffer. We don't want her to go.
Remember what I said about keeping it together? Right. I'm going to go read The Secret Country now, so that I can do that. Be well, all of you, as well as you can. And if you can think to prattle at me about books or movies or games or people we know in common or anything, anything, really: distractions are good. Prattle away (on e-mail, though -- I'd prefer not to have an unrelated comment thread here). Be well. Appreciate each other.