Friday, November 11, 2005

Slipping Away

I am drinking a latte that is really too hot, its scorching my throat on the way down, but I'm ok with that.

Today when I walked into his bedroom, I found myself watching to see if the breath was still finding its way in and out of his body, wondering if and when that stops, exactly what I will do. He looked very small and fragile, a strange impression to have of one's father, but in fact, correct. The conversation went like this once he was awake: "Hi, I'm here to get you some lunch, what sounds good to eat?" (he grimaces at this question) "Ok, let's try a different question, which of these things sounds least awful to eat?" I offer several alternatives, he decides on soup, but "Broth only."

Two more sips of the latte, I contemplate stealing a Halloween treat from my cubicle neighbor's stash. A stiff drink is in order, but I'm back at work; I think this is why the scorching latte seems right.

I strained out some broth and hid a few noodles and some carrot in the cup by chopping them up finely, heated it in the microwave, and helped him out of bed to sit at the dining table. His words have been slurred today, he is exhausted, and I have left work because its obvious he wasn't getting his own lunch. Vicious circle, this fatigue killing appetite. I volunteer some crackers, he grimaces again, but says the soup is tasting good. We have the "what are the symptoms today" conversation for the hundredth time, and he comments that the 'dear doctor' hasn't really given him any reason for why he is so exhausted. So I explain to him how his body is fighting that bad "C" word, how the tumors are multiplying at the expense of his energy, how his immune system is fighting at the expense of his energy. I ask him if he feels weaker than yesterday, and he says "and yesterday weaker than the day before."

I'm still wondering whether chocolate will make me feel better. There was a moment walking towards the cafeteria for the coffee, I saw a friend's back disappearing far down the hall, and I almost fell apart, but not quite. Another friend calls to check on me before heading out for the weekend, but she knows I don't want to talk about the details while I am at work. Awful I say, and that is enough.

Probably an ovestatement, since he hasn't been in any pain this week. We got the blood pressure swings and the heart rate swings back under control. But I keep wondering if he's going to hang on until next Thursday's tests. What was it he said on the phone about not eating today? "It won't matter soon enough." There is nothing emotional about the statement, he says it pragmatically the same way he tells me that he isn't worrying about the inevitable, at 85 its a waste of time to worry about it. But there's been no death sentence yet, so I haven't quite given up.

As I leave he's drinking some cranberry juice I substituted for the glass of water he agreed to sip while he watched some TV, and now there are crackers on a napkin which I point out in case he wants to have a "nibble" later. I feel a bit devious but he knows I am pushing him as gently as I can. He promises he'll drink an Ensure for dinner and will take his blood pressure again; says "I love you" when I pick up my keys, and I know from his voice that he's not saying goodbye just yet. I'll be back tomorrow morning to go through the dance again.

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