Thursday, August 14, 2008

Precious breath

Dying is one of the life works that we do. It is a task that being born sets upon us. The hospice nurses say my brother's wife has about another week of life.

She now has oxygen, a catheter, and a morphine pump. They may get a hospital bed. Even with the oxygen she struggles for breath, that precious breath. She moves in and out of consciousness. I visited her today briefly. She knew me and understood when I talked about feeding her humming birds.

Today is the first day she hasn't eaten her breakfast, hasn't watched her beloved soap operas. My brother cried, out on the porch. He said these were the signs that he expected to mark her giving up.

Is death a giving up? In some ways I suppose. Or perhaps it is an acknowledgment of the impermanence, and imperfection of life and of being human that has always been there in small ways. And now in a large way.

May peace be with her and with all who are suffering today. Blessings, Suki

photos from my walk. Fallen apples. Mushrooms and other fungus. The field down the road being cut once again.


Honour said...

Dearest Suki
These are lovely photos. Especially of the mushroom.

It must be a difficult time for you and for your brother. I watched a dear Uncle of mine suffer through cancer, and I remember the day before he died, calling my mother and saying - "I think he's going to go soon."

There were no physical signs really. It was just how he looked at me from his bed. Lots of peace in him, more than I had ever seen in all the years before. Not that he was a cranky fellow - but he just looked ... well, ready.

Funny how we can't predict when death will be near, but when it is ... we just know. I don't think it's giving up.

Like you said, it's an acknowledgement of life. Of humanity. Thinking of you and your family at this time ... peace and blessings dear Suki. Roxanne

Patti said...

Sad news. I call it surrendering. Much gentler and more dignified. Giving up sort of suggests that you have not been trying hard enough. Still, a difficult thing to acknowledge and accept. I hope she finds peace soon. Take care of yourself at this time.

Lynn said...

Dear Suki,

My heart is full for you and your family.
Giving up or giving in or just getting ready to let the inevitable happen? I wonder how I'd be/will be in a similiar position? Kicking and screaming, hanging on for dear life? Or being peaceful, tranquil? Or somewhere in between? Afraid or at peace, acceptance? How can we know?
I pray your sister in law will pass gently and peacably into death when it's her time to do so. When it happens.
And I hope your brother will not have too difficult a time of grieving...but again, how can anyone know? We hope. Nor you.
And I hope for you too at this most difficult time.
the photo walk was gentle and warming...beautiful.

sukipoet said...

HOnor, thank you for sharing the story of your Uncle. I admire my sister in law who, up until yesterday, enjoyed the small pleasures of her life. Even as i spoke to her about the hummingbirds i saw a spark. In her case there are physical signs of her body breaking down, though of course the specific day is uncertain. I think though if someone doesn't eat, and is getting no sustenance from an IV, they can only live a short time. At least she is at home in her own bed. As she wanted.

I agree Patti. Giving up does sound like there is something you could do to prevent it and now you are "giving up." Surrender is very yogic really. In fact often I think people use war terminology to describe illnesses. Like Fight the good fight, or we'll fight this, we'll beat this. As if we had to engage in a battle. I could wish better terms might arise but I dont know what they are. Thanks for your thoughts, Suki

Lynn, thanks for the hug. I agree, I can't possibly know how I will think or what I will say or do when my time comes. I hope I will be gracious to those caring for me. If that is the circumstance. I think for me watching, it's just the absurdity of life that ends in death that speaks to me and the pain we sometimes have to go through. Thanks for your caring. Suki

Mary Richmond said...

your photographs are a lovely accompaniment(sp??)to a bittersweet story. being present as someone prepares to leave this life is an honor and a blessing, i think.....and your pictures remind us of all that is good and beautiful that remains behind...peace to all of you!

Cris, Artist in Oregon said...

My heart goes out to you all and especially your Brother. I know the feelings you are going thru having been there with my Mom.
She will be out of pain soon. The healing will begin. A slow process that time will help with.
Your photos say it all so well.
HUGS to you dear Suki and your family.

sukipoet said...

Thanks Mary. I pray N. is at peace and pain free. I saw her this morning in the hospital bed (which is narrow and comes in pieces unlike regular hospital beds, so it fit in the door). She looked comfortable. She did eat a couple of bites of food yesterday, but none yet today.

Cris, I know you experienced this sadness with your mom and others. It is a human sadness, something we all go through no matter where on this earth. N. loves stuffed bears and there is a bear in a little chair swing pinned to the ceiling over her head. Guiding her way.

m. heart said...

my thoughts are with you and your family, suki.

a middle-eastern man who lived and operated a lovely rug shop in northampton died of cancer recently. there was an article about him in the paper beforehand, and in the interview he said that he would welcome death as a friend at the door, and was excited about learning the lessons death was bringing to teach him. knowing him, this is probably the way he felt, but even if he had his doubts and fears about dying (who would not?) this statement struck me as such a courageous thing to say. it gave me hope that there is a way to attain that kind of peace with what is the natural cycle of life rather than "raging against the dying of the light" as so many people do. and who can blame them? life is hard but so beautiful and miraculous.

i hope your sil will experience that peace when the time comes.

sukipoet said...

Thank you M. Heart for that lovely story. He had an interesting perspective. To welcome death as a friend at the door. N. is in a coma now, and I pray at peace. Her little humming birds come to her feeders and sing to her. I imagine monks surrounding her and chanting "Om."I hope she feels surrounded by love and friends. Namaste, Suki

Anonymous said...

May peace be with her. I think about my own death every day. I prepare for it (or try to) every day. May peace be there when her time for crossing comes. Hugs, K

Mim said...

Suki - Somehow we know it's time. Your SIL will know and she is blessed to have you all around her with your love and caring. But no matter how planned for, it is a difficult passage to watch - so please continue to take care of you also.

Annie said...

Suki-(((hugs))), sending much love to you, and your family. I think more of death as moving on, not as giving up.
The photos are lovely :-).

soulbrush said...

i don't know what to say at this heart is full, for her, for your brother and for all of you. may she soon be out of this misery and at peace, she is such a brave woman and we can all learn from her. lots of warmth and fortitude to you all.

Karen Mowrey said...

oh Suki. I am at loss for words. This post brought tears to my eyes. I pray for peace and acceptance all the way around.

sukipoet said...

Kelly, that is interesting that you think of your own death every day. I think of mine often. It helps me to appreciate what is around me in the moment, to remember that it will not always be so.

Mim, I think this is true, it is difficult to watch another slowly wind down their life force, move into another state however we think of it. And after she died, to see her so pale, as if coated in beeswax. I combed her hair. Kissed her forehead. She is brave and shows the rest of us the way.

Annie, thanks. Yes that's a nice way to think of it. Moving on to another mode of being. Her ashes will be in the atlantic and the pacific ocean. She is part of the universe now.

Soulbrush I think too she is brave and died bravely and with strength. I will remember this always. I was not present when my dad died. But i was here for N.

Thank you Karen. I think N. is at peace at last, and my brother of course still in shock even though he knew this would happen soon. They had been married 25 years. It must be hard then to be alone after such a long time.

human being said...

' acknowledgment of the impermanence'

yes... true and bitter...
i cried with your brother...when he said those were signs she was giving up...

i'm reading backward... first newer posts!... and it may seem funny the way i comment...

sukipoet said...

Thank you Human Being. I sometimes read posts backwards too. So wonderful, really , to see my brother cry. I myself rarely cry. He cried quite heavily the night she died. Just sobbed. I think this is so good a thing to do. To be honest I did cry when I spoke to the priest who gave the eulogy and told him how beautiful it was. But then i stop myself. Funny that.