It is not death, but dying, which is terrible.
~ Henry Fielding (1707-54)
Lately, she cries even when she is sleeping.
I slip between unfamiliar sheets in a room carpeted with children, mine and those belonging to relatives, and gently roll her toward me. She hasn’t moved in hours, sleep having finally, thankfully, overtaken her.
I hold her. Let her dampen my chest. Tell her that it is all right to hurt. To be here and helpless.
We are in Fargo, North Dakota. On a trip we cannot afford to make. We are not sure how we will get home.
And he is here. Since Friday morning. He wasn’t supposed to make it through that day. So we came. Sixteen hours bookended – flooded – with uncertainty.
We sit. Occasionally, we wander through the big doors at the end of the hall and stand at his side. Hold his hand. Brush the stubble on his chin with our hands. Talk to him. Wonder if he hears. Hope he does.
Two weeks ago, the doctors said he had cancer in his lungs. We fretted, even when he told us in his simple way not to. Then pneumonia settled in. Dug in its bloody talons. Somehow he made the ninety minute trip here.
When asked, he said he wanted to live, so he is now adorned with tubes and induced by drugs into a healing slumber.
He is fighting as he sleeps.
And we are waiting . . .