Learning To Love You More




Assignment #31
Spend time with a dying person.

Camella Clements
Houston, Texas USA
Email Camella



Fern Cook Clements
Heritage Oaks Nursing Home
Lubbock, Texas
7:10 am, May 2, 2006
My grandmother had been dying for sometime. Years, some in my family would say. There would be good days, even weeks and months and years, but at some point we confronted the hopelessness of her recovery.
I sat on her bed, which had a lot more room on it for sitting than I recalled from my last visit because her body had shriveled so. The tip of her nose was blue from lack of circulation. Her heart had enlarged so much that you could see it beating in her chest. Everyone spoke to her as they spoke my tiny toddler cousins, in this oddly cheerful tone, offering her blankets and juice. For the first time most of the conversation in the room was about her, not with her. I held her hand, which felt cool and stiff, like a crumpled envelope. Her mouth sucked the air, reminding me of the giant orange koi at waiting for crowds to cast crumbs in the shallow water.
Tell the boys to bring the cows in. It‰ s time to go in the house, she moaned, dwelling her memories of her Montana dairy farm childhood, as best we could guess.
On our way to the airport, we stopped by the hospice a little after sunrise. A strawberry milkshake melted in its cup on the hospital tray. I kissed her face and tried to say goodbye and then wiped my tears on the sleeve of my sweatshirt. My dad and brother and I walked apart down the corridor, each wanting to make sense of all this alone, the smell of decay palpable under the ammonia-laden air. Struck by the quietness of it all, I wanted to grab their hands.