Being part of the support team for someone in hospice is a hard business, but nothing that comes anywhere near what it must be like to be the one who’s dying. I watched Eric do it, and now I’m watching my sister be taken further and further away from any control over her body and mind as metastatic cancer gets the upper hand in every measure of balance in her life. It looks excruciating, and she’s told me as much.
Last Friday evening I came home after another few days of being with Chris, holding her hand and talking to her, propping her head upright as my brother-in-law fed her slices of fresh tomato (which she clearly enjoyed), cooking, shopping, reorganizing photo albums that were uncovered when clearing the den to make way for a hospital bed, chatting with visitors, walking to the end of the street to a small field planted with a riot of annuals to pick a bouquet for her kitchen. I was exhausted by Friday, and because this isn’t happening to me, or to my life partner, I could afford to take a break.
So I did. I weeded my gardens and froze fresh peaches, grilled veggies for dinner and went kayaking, sat on the porch with David and watched rain clouds move across the sky, slept and read and visited a friend. But the first thing I did on Saturday was pick flowers, eight bouquets for the house and the porch.
During a time of such hardness, surrounding myself with the New England summer bounty of beauty wherever I am makes a difference. I know Chris found being in the present to enjoy flowers important, as she wrote in one of the essays on her blog: Not knowing how long I have to live, but being warned to make my end of life decisions, my goal each day is to live in the present. Appreciate what you can, like the foliage I planted in my deck boxes coming up with beautiful, delicate, lavender blossoms. I didn’t even know that they flowered. I like to go out to my front porch each day to look at the plant on my porch with so many pinkish red blossoms they are hard to count.
Nine bouquets for both of us, though Chris will never see eight of them.