Friday, March 3, 2017

Death's a Bummer

It’s a familiar conversation.  It’s not new to either our talks or thoughts.  We have thought and talked about it before, maybe too much, maybe to the point of ridiculous, who knows.  It was a beautiful day outside so why not go outside and talk about death and dying.  Don’t you do that?

The home health nurse, a woman we have known for years because her son and our daughter were friends, brought it up in a recent visit.  She is a familiar face; certainly the topic of dying wishes is a familiar topic.  She wanted to know, we needed to decide, what do we want, what does Marty want if, God forbid, IT happens.

I told the nurse we knew, I told her we had already done the whole DNR thing at the hospital, I told her I had the medical power of attorney and Marty and I had had THE talk.  She said we needed to talk some more.  

So once again, we played the whole, let’s pretend you stopped breathing game.  Oh boy, fun times at the Kinards house. 
The weir d thing is, somehow, some way it seems different, the whole let me die thing, when you are at home, as opposed to being in the hospital.  I really really didn’t like saying, “Sure, don’t make her heart start beating again” when we were in the hospital.  

It’s exponentially harder and cuts more to the bone for me to say “let her die” when we are in our home, a home we have had for almost 30 years.  It feels different, in our home it feels more like quitting than it does in a medical setting.

We talked.  It was a lovely day outside so why not talk about dying.  It was like spring, the sun was warm on my face, it was relatively quiet, and the wind wasn’t blowing, so why not visit about how you want to be treated in a near death situation.

Marty is almost always game for the discussion, she never really shies away from confronting her own mortality and she has never, not one time, not one scintilla waivered about what she wants.  She very simply does not want to be restarted, she doesn’t want heroic measure, she doesn’t want tubes down her nose, her throat and in her body, she wants to move on when that moment arrives.

I know, without a doubt, without any equivocation what Marty’s wishes are about all of this.  The question has never been knowing, the question has and always will be my own courage to step back and let her go.  I can talk about it, I can talk a really strong game, I can say, “Sure, you bet, whatever you want.”  

Can I do it, can I let go, can I be strong enough, can I be certain enough, can I be resolved enough to be what Marty wants me to be?  The truth is, I don’t know, everything is a theory until you are confronted with real life.

I don’t know about this whole dying thing.  I know people who are convinced that there is more existence after life.  I don’t know if I’m there, I envy that certainty.   I wish death didn’t seem so dark to me, but it does and I don’t know if I can simply watch my passion pass on without fighting one more time, I simply don’t know.

What does make me feel better is what Marty told my some years ago  in one of our many conversations about living and dying.   I asked Marty if she was afraid of dying, if she worried about it at all.  She said of course she worries about it, and then she looked me straight in the eye, broken brain and all and said, “But really, I think that dying is just another way of being.”

That makes her feel better, and guess what; I’m going to go with her on this.  

I hate the conversation a lot more than she does.  She knows, and I know this is talk that needs to happen.  You should do it too.


Amos Weeks said...

You are a brave man, Larry! I prefer to just ignore it :) In our experience, it is easier at the hospital, because they make some of the decision for you. Whether the time comes at the hospital or at home, you will know what to do. That doesn't mean it will be easy.
I have known Marty, actually longer than you (not better just longer). There is one thing of which I am confident. I will see Marty in heaven. In fact, with our situations, it will most likely be the next time I see her. She will be totally healed and back to her smart-alec self. I can't wait!
Marty, Jerry, and I were in a group that visited other churches in high school. I remember us singing "Amazing Grace". One part says " When we have been there ten-thousand years, we have no less time to sing God's praise." Here is to the next ten-thousand years, Marty! :)

Amos Weeks said...

PS...It came up as Amos, because that is my college football account. I got some really rude comments as "Joy" on the football sites, so I had to change it. Great writing, as always, Larry!