Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Promise

Things have been bad the past week or so. With Amy in hospice and "very close" to the end (though still, still, lingering on), I have been driving to Lewiston as often as possible--once every 2-3 days, depending on work schedules and such. It has been nuts and unfair to everyone involved. Me being gone means my husband has to miss a lot of time at work, I have to miss my shifts at work, the kids have to get shuffled from friend to friend, we have to lean on other family members a bunch (which, of course, disrupts their lives as well), and life just generally feels like it is one straw away from crashing down. As awful and selfish as it is to admit this out loud, I am definitely feeling like a hostage in this situation. Why? Because I made a promise to a friend. She controlled everything about her death--everything. The paperwork, the legal documents, the stuff...all of this has been planned out for months and is all taken care of. But there was this one thing. This one thing that was out of her control and scared her the most. Nobody, not her friends, not her mother, not her doctors, not even herself, could control the end. How it would happen, when it would happen...nobody knew. All she was clear about was that she did not want to linger on in pain and she did not want to be a burden on others. But we couldn't promise that, now could we. We couldn't give her any assurances about that. All we could tell her was that she wouldn't be a burden, that we would be with her and that she wouldn't die alone. Did you catch that last bit? That she wouldn't die alone.

Now here we are. There are only three of us who are allowed to see her right now. Three of us trying to do the impossible round-the-clock hand-holding for someone we all care very deeply about. Someone we promised would not die alone. And the truth of it is (oh man, this is hard to admit)...the hard truth is...I don't want to do it anymore. Am I not the worst friend you have ever met in your life?? I'm feeling so trapped. Trapped between this promise that I made to a friend back when I couldn't even wrap my brain around her impending death, and my life that needs me, whole and now. Because I'm not whole with them right now--my mind is always on the next schedule maneuver or the deep sadness I'm feeling or the guilt I feel at both short-changing my family and feeling like a hostage--because there is a lot of guilt associated with that feeling, believe me.

So here we are, approaching my son's second birthday and I haven't even managed to get him a present or bake a cake yet (will happen tomorrow, I swear!). We do have a small gathering planned and we'll sing to him, watch him blow out two candles and eat a cake that will hopefully look like a blue dinosaur. After this, I will pack up and head back down to be at Amy's side. I guess I'm finding a balance, for the most part. I know these feelings of guilt and anger are normal and natural for someone in my shoes. I know they will pass. And I know that for the rest of my life, I will never, ever regret my actions in this matter. I will not regret the time spent talking to her, holding her hand, brushing back her hair, or swabbing her dry lips with water as she struggles to breathe. I will not regret fulfilling my last promise to her. I know this. And I also know, and will admit, that I will be happy when this is all over. That's the truth.

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