When the call came, I did not hesitate.
"Come now," my mother-in-law said, and I did; got in my car and got myself to the hospital, where I joined my husband and his family at Uncle Jim's bedside.
We had expected the cancer to get him, but on some far and distant day. What we weren't prepared for was the pneumonia that turned into a coma in less than twenty-four hours. There was supposed to be so much longer for us to say goodbye. There was supposed to be more time.
The doctor promised that Jim would go quickly, once taken off of life support. He would be sedated and shot full of morphine, and would not feel a thing. The same could not be said for us though. We, the ones who would bear witness, had nothing with which to numb our pain.
The tube shoved down Jim's throat pushed air through his failing lungs. The force of each regulated breath was enough to extend his neck, head bobbing up and down as though endlessly nodding yes, yes, yes while we all whispered no.
The nurses came. It was time. One by one, we took his hand and kissed his cheek and whispered our goodbyes, then stood back and waited for what came next.
First, the monitors at his bedside were turned off. We can see at the desk, they said. Then, he was cut free from all his IV tethers, with the exception of the morphine drip. Finally, the breathing tube was removed.
I've never experienced a deeper silence than the one that filled the room when the ventilator was shut off. It slammed down upon us so hard and fast, my ears felt inside out. But then, just like the way a sudden pressure shift can make them pop, all sound came rushing back again.
The first gasping breath through liquid-filled lungs ripped through the quiet, and we watched, helpless, as he began to drown.
I didn't cry until his daughter sobbed Daddy! when the next breath didn't come.
Today's MFM post was inspired by the prompt Growing Up. At (almost) 39 years old, I thought I was done growing up. This week, I learned otherwise.
Please remember to visit Stranger Upstairs to read another take on the prompt, and come back next Monday, when we'll be writing something inspired by The Pest.