Friday Firesmith – Hospice

When Hospice arrived, we were sitting at the kitchen table, waiting. That’s what her brother and I have been doing for a couple of weeks now, and nothing makes it better. He’s older than I, doesn’t get around very well, and can’t do any lifting, but he is fully retired, and he can stay for long periods of time.

The nurse is a young and perky woman, devoid of the misery and exhaustion we are clothed in. She tells us that her company isn’t offering treatments or cures, because she has to tell us this. We nod slowly, for we no longer hope for a miracle, just a silent and painless end.

Palliative Care, just making the days better until the last day. Just making the nights more livable, and the hours less long. The long trip of a short life is now beginning to make the last turn.

By the time next Friday slips into view, this all should be over, and I will have nothing left to say on the matter. There will be a small memorial, and then we will return to our own lives, and feel regret and relief.

There’s an empty feeling, a sense of loss already, and there’s exhaustion, a never-ending, crippling, overwhelming, exhaustion. No one is rested. No one feels anything but the lack of energy, and the desire to see this to the end now.

Hospice leaves, and there are four people now, a niece, a son, a brother, and there’s me. We’ll do this in shifts, we’ll eat at random times, we’ll bathe and shave, and we will take care of our patient, a woman who is between life and death now.

She’s quit eating, quit responding to us, stopped seeing us as who we were to her. This breaks my heart, every time, each and every time, for there is no recognition. What we had, the love, the memories, all of who we were is gone or locked away. It belongs to me alone now, and alone I will be able to live in again, in my head, only.

Fellow Travelers, my friends from this place, those of you who have followed along, pay attention, in case you find yourself in my shoes. Ride it down, take a bullet for this sort of thing, crash and burn, because it’s the only way to make peace with someone dying. Make sure you spend every minute you can with her, because there will be a day she looks at you, and looks past you, and looks right through you, and you’ll know she’s gone.

Soon, Death, soon, she will be yours, for she is no longer mine. But she never was, really, we are all on loan, temporary fires, too soon to run out of fuel, or run out of time.


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Delicate surgery

A married couple was in a terrible accident in which the man’s face was severely burned.

The doctor told the husband that they couldn’t graft any skin from his body because he was too skinny.

So the wife offered to donate some of her own skin. However, the only skin on her body that the doctor felt was suitable would have to come from her buttocks.

The husband and wife agreed that they would tell no one about where the skin came from, and they requested that the doctor also honor their secret. After all, this was a very delicate matter.

After the surgery was completed, everyone was astounded at the man’s new face. He looked more handsome than he ever had before! All his friends and relatives just went on and on about his baby face!

One day, he was alone with his wife, and he was overcome with emotion at her sacrifice.

He said, “Dear, I just want to thank you for everything you did for me. How can I possibly repay you?”

My darling,” she replied, “I get all the thanks I need every time I see your mother kiss you on the cheek.”