Eight days, a rapid decline.
Days one and two: The cancer had sprouted in a small piece of remaining breast tissue, wrapped around to her spine growing downward. Entire days consumed in walking. Her blue walker squeaking as she trudged from the living room to the parlor and back again before sitting down exhausted. She always said she was blessed with us. All that she had was her family. At the start of her decline mother and father made the consecutive decision to temporarily live in her home. Taking shifts making her comfortable. The entire family decided to move in too.
Day three: We transitioned her into her bedroom. Hospice arrived daily attempting to relieve us of responsibility. The cancer devoured her body in a voracious manner. The once brightly lit, toasty little turn of the century home she inhabited sat dimly lit, an overwhelming melancholy filled the rooms. We scattered about the inside, bags under our eyes, pain in our hearts. Her mind started to become clouded and her eyes appeared glassy as he said her goodbyes. Giving everyone a wet kiss and good advice. Warning us not to cry. She hugged me tightly unable to say a word. I would always be the baby of the family to her, her best friend.
Day four and five: The morphine had stained the corners of her mouth blue. A liquid compound used to numb extreme pain. Her sitting eroded into laying, breathing into wheezing. Slowly she separated from herself, all that remained was her vessel. A withered eighty-three-year old body. We remained, watching as the cancer ate away at her body praying for death. The passage of time seemed surreal. Father tried desperately to shelter me from the cruel reality of cancer, but I refused to remain ignorant. All that anyone could do was wait and help when needed. I took to talking to her unconscious body. Secretly hoping the color would rush back to her cheeks and she would return to us all. Her hand was never empty, always tightly grasped by one of ours.
Day six and seven: The nights ran into the days, sleep deprivation left us weary. The presence of her dying body tore at our psyche. We wanted nothing more for her than sleep, eternal sleep. Her skin was thin, blue veins visible just underneath.
Day eight: a determined hospice nurse helped us to bathe her cancer ridden body, blabbering on about my maturity and possible success in the medical field. After her departure it was my shift. My turn to watch over my grandmother’s restless body. I folded her pink sheet away from her neck, pushed hair from her face, gently taking her hand in mine settling in for a long night. The late afternoon light lit up the bedroom windows. “I love you.” The words slipped from my lips as the body lying in the bed sharply inhaled. Barely exhaling. The sweet kiss of death, cancer stealing away its victim.