Sunday, July 12, 2009

Death and whatever

Here's the problem with getting older, you begin to lose friends. And while I may hope to be the last woman standing, three funerals this year - and the year's barely half-way over - is much too much. I know a lot of famous people have died. Heck, I remember little Michael with the big bushy Afro. But we only think we know them. We see them in front of camera's and read about them in gossip columns and magazines and think they're like family. But I'm talking about real people, real friends. First was Bob Moulds and I knew he was sick, but he was supposed to be getting better and he was even getting ready to go back to work and then suddenly he was dead. I remember a big guy who would sit in the corner and make really loud, really stupid jokes and I remember that I wish I knew him better.

And I remember Rochelle Verhassault, but not well enough either. And she was another nice lady who did good things int he church and community and I watched her husband almost break down because she'd been battling cancer for a long time but she too was supposed to be getting better and then ... gone.

And now Tokiko Blaine. At least she wasn't really a surprise, she was in Hospice care at home with her children around her and no one thought she'd get better. The problem is, even though you think you're prepared for a loved one to die, you never really are. My sister died a few years ago and the doctors told us there was no hope. Of course, they'd told us to come and say goodbye a decade earlier when someone shot her, and there was supposed to be no hope, but she eventually got out of ICU, then out of the hospital, married and had a good ten years. But apparently something was still wrong, and she started going downhill and had a year of hell where she even asked me to help her die. This time when they said she had six months they were wrong again.

She barely had six days.

And I was so not ready to hear she was gone. Even though I know she was ready to go. She couldn't talk, or even move, by then. Couldn't ask anyone to help her escape life. Her limbs were curled up. She needed tubes to feed her and tubes to take out the waste. And someone to remember to turn her to keep out bedsores. When they called to say she was dead I felt robbed.

I looked at Tokiko's husband and had that same feeling. He smiled, but you could tell it was painted on. Her son's couldn't make it through their speeches without tears. Her granddaughter tried, but broke down too. One grandson managed to hold it together with a bunch of jokes about her - but you could see how hard he was trying.

For all of them the minister talked about God calling them back home.
And I just kept thinking, he has no right. We still needed them. Wanted them. Loved them.

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