Requisit Respite

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I Think Maybe I Understand

This morning I came into work and found out that Josephine died this morning.
This woman had nine lives. She was like a cat. She would break her arm and decline, then miraculously fight back and live. Then she would break her hip and go to the hospital, be put on hospice. We never thought she would make it -- but she DID! Then she would get other illnesses and we thought for sure it was the end, but feisty Josephine kept coming back.

Lately she would cry a lot. She would call for her mom and dad.
She wanted her mom and dad. She would call for Kenny, her brother.
One day one of the aids said she kept saying, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry," and would just cry.
Our nurse said she had a conversation with her and told her it was OK to die. She would see Kenny again and they would make peace.
Josephine got pneumonia. She wasn't expected to survive it. They put her on morphine every two hours. She would wake up, get cranky and cuss everybody out. Then she would get morphine again. I prayed so hard that THIS would be the time.
It was.
I think she finally was brought to her knees enough this time to realize that she would have to accept her death. She would have to face Kenny and all those other people she was calling all the time -- "Estelle!!!" "Helen!!!"
Perhaps she had to face it and was too scared those other times.
I went into her room this morning and knelt down. I put my hand on her ice cold bony arm and looked at her toothless open mouth and saw her lying in such repose as if she was asleep.
I talked to her, "Josephine. I'm so happy for you! I know you will find all your friends and family and you will have a great reunion. I'm so glad you decided to go."

I remember having that conversation with Granny in the hospital right before she died. She was saying the rosary, "Hail Mary full of grace...Hail Mary full of grace..." I shook her by the shoulders, "Granny!"
She came out of her trance, "What?"
"It's OK. You can go."
"Hail Mary full of grace..."
"Have you seen Pop?"
"Yeah, but he didn't say too much."
"Go to him."
"Hail Mary full of grace," she fingered her rosary nervously and furiously.
I turned my back to her and peered out of the window into a frosty grey February sky. I prayed, "Dear God, please let her go."
I turned back.
"Don't be afraid. Just go. Go to Pop!"

That night at about 11:00 the phone rang. I knew what it was. I made Ken answer.
"Your grandmother passed away."
"...I know."