Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When we're done

Finally Ed does leave the hospice, long after everyone who was there when he checked in has already died. The hospice is voluntary admission; Ed is able to walk out. He checks himself in at the Y. The narrator can't find him. No one will tell her where he's gone. They're not supposed to.
It's amazing how Rebecca Brown makes this book so unpredictable. This book about caring for people who are dying.
This guy who recognizes the homecare attendant except she hasn't met him before. Maybe it’s dementia. Except then it turns out that he was Carlos's friend, in his 30s when the attendant was taking care of Carlos but he looked like he still had baby fat. Now his face is thin and he looks like he's 50.
These people want so much, and can only have so little. This attendant, she tries to provide what she can. Maybe more than she can. More than I could, I'm pretty sure about that. This guy, Marty is his name, he helped Carlos to die, it was so painful at the end. He wants to know if the attendant thinks dying can be a relief.
"When the epidemic started there was a shorter time between when people got sick and when they died." That's a line that really gets me, because of Sean. One moment she was telling us — and I didn't believe her, I didn't believe her. It's all frozen in my head now, like we're still standing on the Esplanade and Sean is yelling I'm dying! I'm dying.
But this isn’t the beginning of the epidemic, so how did it happen so fast? Was it just stopping the drugs, and did she mean for it to happen that way? What will happen when I stop the drugs?
And then I'm thinking of other people. Like that queen that came to our house in San Francisco, to interview for a room that was available, and she was talking about the goddess and her special powers and she wanted to do touch healing on everyone. I was appalled. I saw her around a few times, and she always acted like we were really close, and then the next time I heard about her, it was for her memorial.
I never wanted to go to memorials for people I didn't know well, I knew people who went to every memorial they heard about, and it felt like they were exploiting other people’s grief. But now I wonder if there's something important in sharing the gestures of loss, big and small all at once. I wonder if I should have gone to that memorial. If that's what I'm doing now, reading this book with Ned at the dining room table, and what are we going to say when we're done?

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