Two women came out of the room closest to where I was sitting in the hallway with Natalie, Eric’s mother. Natalie has been through another round of hospitalization, and this time the doctor suggested she be discharged to hospice. The Connecticut Hospice is in a beautiful location, on the water at the entrance to Branford Harbor. Sunday was a gray and windy day and the wall of windows in the lobby opened to waves sloshing against the rocks along the shore.
The older of the two women put her hand on my shoulder and stood next to me. Natalie was dozing, I was sitting quietly, content just to be there with her through her cycles of waking and napping. “I know what it’s like,” the woman said. “It’s good of you to be here.”
I looked up at her. “I know what it’s like too,” I said. “I’ve been through this before.” I nodded towards Natalie. “I was married to her son who died.”
“My son, 46-years old.” The woman gestured towards the room she’d come out of.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “Her son, Eric, was only 54. Ocular melanoma.”
“Brain tumor,” the woman said, and again I said, “I’m so sorry.” The other woman with her just stood there nodding. We all looked at each other, quiet, letting our shared language of ages and diseases settle between us.
The women were gone by the time Natalie opened her eyes again. The sound of a trio, violin, piano and guitar, playing holiday music came down the hall from a common room. “Let’s get moving,” Natalie said, not for the first time during the visit. “Okay, let’s move.”
“Why don’t we stay here,” I said. “We can listen to the music.”