The deathwatch began shortly before Thanksgiving somewhere in the late 90’s.  While it felt like everyone else was shopping for Turkey and making plans to share the holidays with loved ones, we watched my mother’s body deteriorate and slowly, painfully die.  I flew up from Florida, and she had been admitted to the top floor of the local hospital.  You know, the unit where no one goes home.  The living will had already been signed and she was ready.  It was time.  My stepfather wanted to take her to Mexico or somewhere in Central America for “experimental” treatments.  She wisely declined, having already suffered enough.  Arriving at the hospital, I saw the one person who had always been there for me, quickly fading.  As I said Hi mom, she replied, Hi Mike, I know it’s you, but I can’t see you.  I do see someone with long straight hair though.  The nurses of course all thought it was probably Jesus.  I didn’t bother telling them that as a Jew of Middle Eastern Origin, his appearance was probably nothing even remotely resembling the pictures we saw in Sunday School.  My younger brother who had committed suicide many years before always had long straight black hair.  Who knows, perhaps it was only the morphine talking.  On a brighter note, two of my favorite aunts that I hadn’t seen in years were there.  I’ve always wondered why so often it takes death to bring the living together.  We did have as nice of a visit as could be expected while Thanksgiving came and went.  The nurses dutifully assured us that she wasn’t suffering, though her body obviously was.  We ate in shifts, so someone was always there with her.  Over my turn at dinner, it happened.  The suffering ended.  I was holding her hand, and still remember how surprisingly quickly it grew cold.  In her last moments I actually told her that it was OK to let go, we’d be fine I lied.  I don’t have eloquent words to describe the experience, but I knew that NOTHING bad had occurred.  After the funeral, it was back to life in Florida.  Well along my way on the transformational journey from computer professional to homeless addict, I spent my first Christmas totally alone.  Please forgive me if my holiday spirit is a little under the weather this year, and while I wish all of you a joyous holiday season, filled with cheer, surrounded by the ones you love, none for me thanks, I’m driving.

(Source: mikefrawley)