The Deathwatch Diary (Two)

Go here to read Deathwatch Diary (One)

Every day, a fat seagull spends the afternoon sitting on the roof outside my mother’s hospital window. A nurse told me that, several years ago, a woman staying in the room next to my mother’s would leave some of her food outside her window for the birds. This last one is still hoping.

My brother thinks that my mother could beat the odds and become aware and pain-free enough to go home to live out the rest of her hours (or days). He wants a miracle.

This morning her blood pressure dropped and her pulse quickened. By her bedside, I sit and watch the read-outs for the meds that are keeping her comfortable and pain-free. It’s all about the numbers.

It’s all about numbers.

“You can never know for sure,” the doctor tells me this morning when I ask him how long she might have. The turbaned doctor is very kind, compassionate. Even his handshake is gentle. He is angelically patient as he answers the endless questions that my brother has in hopes of being able to have my mother wake up and see him one last time — see him so that he can say goodbye. When I am not angry at him I see that his constant arguing is a way to keep himself from feeling overwhelming grief.

I tell my brother about an “Allie McBeal” episode I remember in which an elderly dying woman on a sedative wakes up and asks to be put back on the sedative — because, while sedated, she is having an extended dream that she is living her young life, that she is young and alive instead of old and dying.

I ask my brother if it might be that my sedated mother is dreaming she is young again instead of old and dying. His answer is that maybe she’s not.

In reverie or not, I don’t want her disturbed. He wants a miracle.

It’s all about numbers: 94, 88/55, 1mm, one or two days. I watch the second hand move around the clock. I count her breaths — 18 a minute.