"And to be in danger of dying..." ~ Jane Eyre
About a month ago I posted the eulogy I gave at my grandfather's funeral years ago. Although my focus was on his life, I am taking a moment to speak of his death. He died a slow and painful death of sarcoma in his left arm. It was two years of suffering, both for him and for his family. In the end the decision was made to bring him to Calvary Hospice, where cancer patients go to die here in New York. They say its a hospital where terminally ill cancer patients can die in dignity. As wonderful as the doctors, staff, and facility was, there was nothing dignified about it. I drove two hours after work to the Bronx three times a week during his last days, in a haze of despair and grief.
He was incoherent soon after he was brought there, feverish and hallucinating. Eventually more morphine was given to him and I barely was able to get him to open his eyes, wondering if he even recognized me as I sat in the quiet room, as he sat on the brink of death from cancer, never getting used to his violent shakes from the morphine dripping into his body. His arm was triple in size, and the cancer attacked his heart.
It attacked my heart as well.
In the end, watching my grandfather die was not the most traumatic aspect of having to be in Calvary Hospital. There were waiting rooms where patients who were not on their last breaths could go with family, and I will never forget a man in his thirties in a wheelchair, thin and gaunt, being wheeled around the floor by his two parents to get him out of his room for a small while.
A parent should never have to bury his or her child. That is all that kept going through my head as I watched the sad and depressed faces try and muster courage for the sake of their son. I, too, became depressed.
And I am depressed tonight...my sister's voice filled with tears on the phone earlier make me morose tonight. Her roommate from college died - a woman with a PhD, a big heart, and a gentle nature - of sarcoma of the leg at age 33.
Cancer does not discriminate...it can attack anyone at any time at any age, and I am so grateful for the unity this Friday evening: http://su2c.standup2cancer.org/ Donations can be made on the website or during the program. Although a wonderful place to donate is, indeed, right here (please make a gift if you can):
Reader, welcome to my life.
- Name: ThursdayNext
- Location: New York, United States