Day 53 – useless

No zombie love installment tonight. Something else needed to come out:

*     *     *

He’s dying. Not imminently, but he’s at the end of his days. “I’m worn out.” he says often these days; especially after folding back into bed after the 20 minute shuffle just to get to the bathroom and back.

He sleeps a lot now. He’s often sound asleep, blanket tucked under chin, in the times I drop in to visit. But that’s okay. I just sit with him, feet dangling from the wheelchair he hates to be in.

He use to be a provider, a supporter, a leader; even after he retired, a swimmer in lakes not yet fully free of ice. Alive, active, always doing, always helping. Now always sleeping. For all he been his whole life, what he is now is useless. In his lucid moments you can see this angers him, he’s been taking care of others his whole life, he doesn’t know how to be this man.

I sit at the end of his bed, mind idle, fingers resting on a foot that occasionally twitches in sleep. When he wakes up and sees me he has to ask me who I am, “my recall isn’t so good anymore.”  Even after I answer I don’t think he really knows, but he knows I’m love, and I’m here for him.

I’m here for him, but there’s nothing I can do. I’ve got nothing that can heal him, make this better. I’m helpless to stop the slow degeneration of the body that has carried him so far. I’m here for him, but I’m useless. So I sit, do nothing, chat about the same thing 15 times when he’s awake, sit quietly in his room when he’s not.

This time is precious to me, there’s very little he can do anymore, but who he is now gives me a chance to be still, and a chance to remember. To remember love, and family, and interdependence, and the balance of giving and receiving. I watch a man try and make peace with helplessness and letting go, and it helps me let go.

I offer him a sip of water, kiss his forehead, and just be with him, but there’s nothing I can do to stop what time and age are doing to him. We’re both of us useless here. But in this silence, in this moment, something connects us, gives us both what we need.

5 thoughts on “Day 53 – useless

  1. — teary eyed and coughing —

    I have a photo I took of the cat, sitting on the wheelchair that the Red Cross loaned us.

    I could count on my fingers, the number of times he sat in the wheelchair. He died so fast. He died so slowly.

    Valerie, in those weeks I also thought about uselessness. That maybe the most love can do, the most that people can do, is to be with someone, in his suffering, when there’s nothing that the people there can do except be there. When the most that people can do is to be useless.

    My father was good at being a patient. But nobody knows how to die. The time was precious to me. Time became pain but I say his pain was not precious. I trusted his body and his cancer and his advance choice and rejection of interventions. Logically I think those should be mistrusted, except maybe our bodies, I’m not sure. I woke up each morning, and because I hadn’t been phoned at night, he was still alive. My day was visiting him, or what I decided to do when I was not seeing him. It was very simple. Time was what it was.

    —-this much staring at the screen means click—-


  2. Such a strong piece of writing. It is full of simple truths, the beauty of life, death and uselessness. I love this intermission to zombie love. Thanks!


  3. I’m finally catching up on your blog posts from the past few weeks. And this is just beautiful. I’ve been loving the Zombie posts so far, but this is turly touching. Love it :)


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