Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grieving the Comings and Goings

The more time I spend with my mom at her facility, the more I get to know the other 14 residents on her unit. In an odd way, we have all become family over the months. We eat together. We watch cooking demonstrations together. We do our nails together. We bowl together. We sing together. We dance together. And we grieve together when one of them passes. It's not like some elderly stranger you read about who dies. These are people we see and interact with day in and day out. We get to know their kids, caregivers and family members. They are my mom's "people". Every day. The past 3 weeks have been sprinkled with much sadness as two of the ladies we've spent much time with died. One lady had dinner, went to bed and never woke up. The other fell, broke her hip, had surgery then died. It hits incredibly close to home for the other family members, because mortality has whispered in our ears. One day we are eating lunch or dinner with these people; the next day they are gone. We walk by their rooms, and they are empty -- waiting for the next person to come. As you enter my mom's unit there is a small living room area with a sconce vase hanging on the wall. When you walk by you hope not to see a flower out of the corner of your eye displayed in the vase. If you do, it means someone has passed. Below the flower, is a photo of the deceased. I remember seeing that flower after my dad died. It was surreal. It took my breath away. And for the two ladies who recently passed, it was no different. It put a lump in my throat both times because we know that tomorrow, it could be our loved one.

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