30 December 2007

The Curse of Being an Adult

My mom is a chaplain. She works for a hospice system and provides spiritual support for people who are dying. And she is so comfortable doing it. She can talk about death and dying to people who are dying and to the people they are leaving behind. She can fly into hospitals and spot the family strife and separate for these people what is important right now (helping Uncle Joe die) and what isn't (what Uncle Joe did in 1975 to Uncle Harold). It's quite amazing. But sometimes it is disconcerting.

She has a patient who was basically an ass his whole life. He was a loud, ex-army son-of-a-bitch. I imagine him in sansabelt pants, complaining about integration and how liberal Nixon is. But he got what was coming to him, didn't he? He's dying. He wasn't there for his wife when she died, and now his new wife isn't there for him. He was worried about what would happen to his dog when he died. And today his dog died, and Mom thinks that he is going to turn his own oxygen off because he is ready to die. And she says this while she is washing out tupperware to put into the dishwasher. It makes my heart stop, because if you are that comfortable talking about this, does that mean that someday you will turn off your own oxygen? And leave us here alone?

And what will we do then?


MB said...

Well everybody kicks it eventually. Better to turn off your own oxygen than have others clamoring to turn it off I suppose.