Most of us welcome the chance to enjoy another year of life. We try to eat well, visit the doctor as needed, we exercise and fight for life. We take our vitamins. We greet our anniversaries with relief to have survived, and hope for another year. We resolve to do even better next year.
But, when someone is 91 years old and in lousy health, it's just not so fun anymore. She can't walk more than 10 steps (with her walker) without resting. She naps at least three times a day.
When I visited Mom today, she felt defeated and depressed. She has been hearing about Christmas on the television, and sees the oncoming holiday as a marking of yet another year when she has failed to die. She is weary, just bone-weary. Weary of life, weary of each day, each hour. Weary of the effort. And another holiday mocks her, reminds her of even more time passing as she yearns for her own end.
She said she figured out how she could speed her demise .... by not using her oxygen. She decided not to do that, but she thought about it. (Ethically - is that suicide? Or is it merely allowing a natural process to play out, while not availing herself of all possible remedies? I wonder.)
I found that she had done some water-colors over the last week. She had used the cheap brushes, not the treasured old brushes she's had for years (the ones she clutched to her heart in gratitude, nearly weeping with joy, when I brought them back to her). I asked why she wasn't using her good brushes, and she said it was just too much effort. So she's using cheap WalMart brushes instead of reaching eight inches to open a plastic bag with some beautiful camel-hair brushes... just out of tiredness.
She and I hugged for a long time, a long and strong hug, her clutching me and clinging in desperation. In sadness.
As I said goodbye, I wondered whether this was the last time I'd see her alive. I wonder.