Wednesday, October 31, 2007

go in peace...

i dreamed of him last night
he was clear
his voice was strong
and he said i
was the only one who knew
but i don’t know
what i’m supposed to know…

i called out to him today
told him to come for you
told him you needed him
to lead you

will you go
light and new and free
or will you stay
sad and tired
frightened and burdened
wizened and stubborn

did he hear
i don’t know
will he come
i don’t know
i can only look at you
and cry out
and hope

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More on End of Life

Thank you all for your virtual hugs and understanding nods about my mother’s plight. I wonder how many of you are thinking, "Why did she not just have a signed DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order available for any medical personnel called in an emergency?"

Very simply—Mom is not the least bit interested in dying. She’s old, she’s ill…her body is worn out and failing. But Mom isn’t ready to go. And I don’t think she ever will be. Any more than I suspect I will be, when my time comes. The specter of the unknown is just too overwhelming.

A while back, some bloggers did an exercise expounding upon the concept that "Anything I’ve ever let go of in my life had claw marks on it," or something like that. That is my mother, in spades. Her emotional attachments to places and things are more of Super Glue than of Velcro. She never made a change in her life that didn’t leave a psychological crater the size of the Sea of Tranquility. She is not remotely ready to consider the idea of the most profound and final change she will face on this earthly plain. Not long ago, when my sister approached her with the idea of signing a DNR, Mom, in her uniquely mom-like way, deftly changed the subject. Immediately.

Of course, like it or not, at some point she will have to go anyway. Western science seems to be on Mom’s side, standing ready to prolong her life to the nth degree. But Someone, be it God, the Great Spirit, the Almighty, or the Universe, as I’ve taken to calling It, understood my mother’s issues. On the day when she just…slowed to a stop, the Universe had said, "This is the transition appropriate for this soul." And stupid, bumbling human hands snatched it away.

Now…who knows what’s going to happen? She has her good days, and her bad days. At her best, it looks like she might just get sprung from the warehouse of human suffering she is in; maybe even be able to go back to her Assisted Living apartment…or at least somewhere a little more like home. At worst, it looks like the dreaded call from the nursing home staff, "Elsie didn’t wake up this morning," could come tomorrow. Actually, maybe that wouldn’t be the worst. The worst would be for her to linger in that awful place, between life and death, for weeks or months.
And it pisses me off to know this isn’t what the Universe had in mind for her. But arrogantly stupid western medicine had to interfere.

Sometimes It's a Good Day to Die

My mother died last week.

Two seeks shy of her eighty-fifth birthday, her failing heart slowed to a trembling twenty-five beats per minute. Her care-givers became alarmed. "Elsie, do you know where you are? Elsie, what day is this? Elsie, what’s my name? Elsie? Elsie!" They called an ambulance.

On the ride to the hospital, her heart went silent. The paramedics zapped her. A few more miles down the road, her heart stopped again. And once again, they shocked her back to life.

So Mom, robbed of her peaceful, mercifully muzzy exit from this life, spent four days in the hospital receiving the "gift" of a pacemaker, which will keep her heart bravely pumping while she dies, by inches, of kidney failure. Her doctor gives her three to six months before her kidneys give out completely.

Oh, yes; she’s alive. But she can’t go back to her apartment now; she shares a room in a nursing home with two other women in much the same state as she: mostly cognizant, thoroughly miserable, and afraid.

On top of that, it seems my mother was rudely yanked back into this life only to be at the mercy of the 21st century American health care system. A system rife with absentee physicians, overworked office staff, and so many layers of responsibility that it’s impossible to know whom to call when for what condition. And whether that person will deign to call you back if you do figure it out. Mom’s orders have been lost, her meds have been screwed up, her doctor has gone AWOL. Her care since her miraculous rescue can be accurately summed up with the old WW II army term—" FUBAR."

But, hey. She’s alive. In pain, afraid, and not receiving a tenth of the attention she needs. But she’s alive.

Everyone knows that I am hardly mankind’s foremost cheerleader lately. We’ve screwed up so badly that I honestly don’t know why the Almighty doesn’t just rear back a huge celestial hand and squash us like the poisonous insect we are. Every day, in millions of ways, our science merely proves what ignorant control freaks we are. That we have poured a disproportionately immense amount of resources into our ability to physically control our world, and not nearly enough study and effort into learning the intangibles. We’re not interested in why things happen, we just want to know how to change them.

Doesn’t anybody get the inkling that there’s a reason why bodies shut down as they do? Why has modern science "advanced" only to the point where it feels ethically bound to interfere in the dying process, whether it should or not? And why does our system keep a heart beating only to warehouse the body somewhere and allow it to die of neglect?

And why does my mother have to suffer through all this arrogant ignorance?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


crow on the gutter
across the street
cah! cah! cah! it cries
good morning!
I call to the rooftop
black eyes black face
look down, head cocks a tick
cah! cah! cah!
the halloo echoes back
and I reply

we spend some moments
in polite conversation
‘til I turn to the door
of my morning’s work
while crow soars off
to the walnut grove
for breakfast
we shan’t sit down for coffee
but we’ve shared
a bright good morning
in spite of the drizzle