Angry Robot

Something Important Happened 5

[Continued from here. All articles in this series will be archived here]

My mom and I talked after this doctor left, as neither of us could recall which department he had said he was from. We joked desperately that perhaps he didn’t even work here. A twisted soul who came in off the street to give bad news to strangers. An angel of death.

A day or two passed. The junior geriatrics doctor met us and we discussed ‘the palliative option’. Then the junior geriatrics doctor brought the senior geriatrics doctor. They were kind and thorough. They echoed the angel of death. They described your state since the fall as a ‘delirium’, and said it was actively harmful to the brain. They said you would likely be much worse off, if you recovered, which now seemed unlikely.

By the time the geriatrics team was preparing to leave we had decided that you should go into palliative care. You did not deserve this suffering.

I cried when they left. Your breathing got quite bad – these ragged, grasping pulls of air. Sometimes it sounded like you were either trying to say something, or calling out in pain. My mom became upset and demanded a nurse give you some pain medicine. It helped. The machines now showed your vitals update every second and I watched them like a stock trader in the middle of a crash. I did get one glimpse of a smile when I talked to you – barely visible under your oxygen mask, but detectable in the creases of your eyes.

They told us we should go home and get some sleep so we tried it. That night was hard. Here I was, in my newly purchased home, drinking a scotch, and there you were, in some nether state of consciousness, labouring to breathe, completely alone. I wished I knew where you were, where you were going.

Early the next morning the phone rang. It was my mother – the hospital had called and you were not doing well. I called a cab. I was on Bayview when my mom called again and said you had died.

My sisters and mothers were there when I arrived. You were there in body only — I struggle uselessly to write about this moment, my sentences forming and then falling apart. My words like a bridge across a chasm, a bridge that falls away.

You had loved a particular song, one that you and I performed at my aunt’s funeral. We always knew we’d sing it at yours. I always knew I’d experience something like its final verse. Alyssa started singing it right there at your deathbed, and we all joined in.

Went back home, my home was lonesome
Since my mother she been gone
All my brothers, sisters crying
What a home so sad and ‘lone.

Will the circle be unbroken,
By and by, Lord, by and by.
There’s a better home a-waitin’
In the sky, Lord, in the sky.