Learning To Love You More




Assignment #31
Spend time with a dying person.

Roxana Hannah
Berkeley, California USA



with Emelle Dewey
Berkeley, California
Oct 26-Nov 4, 1998

o.k. it's dark- tonight is a good night. Unable to see the keys in front of me helps me focus on the memory of watching my mother die. I'm not into over dramatization but come on, this is my Mother we're +alking about.
The ambulance brings her into my sister's dark craftsman style house, as are almost all the homes in Berkeley, wheels her into the back room occupied hours earlier with a mess of kids toys and a closet full of insignificant items. She's here, she looks tired...no we won't let the medical facility examine her brain to see what's going on, or what isn't, she only has two weeks to live and four of those days have already been wasted waiting for hospital clearance red tape.
Catheter in, left eye swollen shut, unable to speak...her one brown eye so beautiful. So deep, meaningful, wise and loving. Green leaves rubbing against the window blowing in the wind, Berkeley in October-perfect. Sitting in the chair opposite from her reading "A Guide to Dying at Home" attempting to understand what is happening before my eyes.
Peace and acceptance is happening. No words. Just the brown eye that is sometimes awake. And when it is awake I can barely see for my brown eyes, her eyes that I have, are so full of water I can't even see her. Curse these tears that blind me.
Daily the catheter has less and less fluid. I know there are only two days left. Still she sleeps in the quiet of the house where two sisters and their children have come to be together. She hears us and feels us. She sleeps. This is my mother. This is real. Only love exists nothing else is important.
The books tells you the breathing gets heavy before one dies. I guess so but that's not what I noticed. It was her one strong deep brown eye. The morning before she died, she knew, she looked at me hard, really hard but soft like she was and said so much to me with her eye, her brown eye. Of course I couldn't do anything but tell her how much I loved her and blubber like a baby and watch her fall asleep again. Peaceful acceptance to the end of her life. Beautiful, loving and unforgetable, that night she died. We woke just as she did and for the last time felt the warmth of her body that remained.