Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Life At 3:15 a.m.

Yesterday my mom and I went to visit a former neighbor of mine who lived in our old neighborhood. She was an elderly woman (88 to be exact) who lived behind us for the 5 years that I owned that particular home. During that time, Virginia lost her husband to Alzheimer's, her son (in his 50s), and her grandson (in his 20s). After we moved when the kids were born, my mom brought Virginia to our new home once or twice to visit, and after that, life got in the way. 

I said (not enough times), "We need to go visit Virginia," and then did not follow through. About a month ago, we stopped over to see her, and she wasn't there. I found out from another neighbor that she had fallen this summer and broken her knee (after having knee replacement surgery earlier). Because she had no family nearby, she was in an assisted living community while healing from that fall.

During her stay there, doctors diagnosed her with skin cancer that had unfortunately metastasized, and moved into her bones. Not knowing all of this, mom and I stopped over to see Virginia yesterday. A man named Bob, who was her son's former partner on the police department, answered the door. He was staying in town to take care of Virginia. He told us about how she had been doing, and that hospice was coming twice a day. Virginia was in her hospital bed in the living room. Her eyes were open, but Bob told us that because Virginia had stopped taking any fluids, no water, no ice chips, that her throat was so dry she couldn't speak. He said she could hear us though, so I put my hand on her thin arm and said hi, and that I was glad to see her. Honestly, I am so uncomfortable in those situations that I just don't know what else to say. I didn't want to cry in front of her, so I moved so my mom could speak to her too. Bob told us that he didn't feel Virginia had much time left. 

At about 3 a.m. this morning, Scarlett woke up in the night. She had gotten sick all over her bed, so we brought her downstairs, cleaned her up, threw a load of laundry in (there is nothing like doing middle-of-the-night laundry), and I put her in her sleeping bag on the floor in our bedroom (close to the bathroom), and laid down next to her. After she fell asleep, I got back in bed, and thought about Virginia, and how I should have gone to see her more. I got back out of bed and fell asleep on the floor next to Scarlett, waking up again two more times when she threw up. Holding her hair, rubbing her back, laying next to her with my arm over her tiny waist as we both fell asleep again. Each time she got sick, instead of crying like I remember doing as a kid whenever I would throw up, she suddenly became Chatty Cathy, asking "Mommy - can we talk about preschool when I wake up in the morning?" or "Mommy, can I paint when I wake up in the morning?" I assured her that yes we could, thinking I would be able to take the day off of work to stay with her. No can do, I found out, when I called my co-worker and found out she was laid up with a fever and a cough. I dragged myself up, got ready, and went to work.

Just before lunch, mom called to tell me that Virginia had passed away. I don't know what compelled us to go see her yesterday of all days, but I was glad that we had. I was sad that I hadn't done it more. I resolved to sleep on the floor with my kids whenever I need to. To hold their hands, to whisper to them in the quiet of the night, to kiss their faces as they fall asleep next to me. To try to remember to thank God for the blessings in my life, instead of complaining about the petty stuff.

Thank you, Virginia, for reminding me of that. Rest in peace.
Shannan

3 comments:

oomph. said...

sorry to hear about virginia. i think about things like this all the time and always vow to DO before it's too late.

hope the little one feels better.

[oomph.]

Marie a la Mode said...

I'm sorry to hear about Virginia's passing. I'm glad you got to see her one last time, I'm sure your visit meant a lot to her. xo

Bella said...

A heart warming albeit bitter sweet sharing - thank you for the timely reminder!

~ Bella ~