Mom called me Sunday morning to say she had chest pain and a feeling that an elephant was sitting on her chest... a classic sign of a heart attack, though she did not have other signs (sweating, nausea, shortness of breath). From some tests she had five or more years ago, she does have some blocked arteries, so a heart attack was possible, even probable. This event lasted a couple of hours. They gave her a pain pill (half a hydrocodone).
Of course, I went directly there. The staff at her home fussed over her, and called hospice. The hospice nurse came and evaluated her and stayed with her for a time. I was there, holding her hand and talking with her. I called my siblings and my daughter, who is a paramedic.
As she slowly improved, she perked up. She enjoyed the attention. It felt good for her.
After the event passed, and it was nearing time for going to lunch down the hall, she said she felt really disappointed. She couldn't articulate why, but she asked if I understood. I said I thought so, for two reasons. I thought she was probably disappointed that her life struggle had not ended that morning, that she needs to go on living a life that she is not enjoying. She nodded vigorously. I said that, secondly, she probably enjoyed the people fussing over her, showing they cared for her and would help her ... and that maybe she was disappointed that all that attention had passed. She said yes, you do understand.
I guess we all enjoy some attention. Some fussing. A reminder that we matter, that we aren't invisible. That if we are nearing the possible end of our lives, there are some people who will break their busy routines and pay a little attention. Notice us. Show kindness. We are all hungry for a bit of love, especially in the face of our own death, which we must each face alone, profoundly alone.