I come home afterward to my empty house, and feel again that dogged catch in the back of my throat as I replay my morning's memories. Today when I asked one beautiful, old soul how I could be praying for her this week, she looked at me with fervent, watery eyes and responded: please ask God to let me die so I can just go home. How does one go about praying that? I suppose I just take her words at face value and ask for what she asks for, knowing that a pain-plagued lady on the cusp of her 94th birthday knows what she needs and doesn't need. My 38-year-old naivete doesn't really have a role to play here. What on earth do I know about anything? Visiting these people so intimately familiar with chronic pain and suffering helps me see that I don't know nearly as much as I used to think I did. Frankly, sitting down at the keyboard after a time there seems more than a bit rich to me now. Is it me who has to press my call button, trying to summon an overworked RN to help me lay down in my own bed because my back pains me so badly I can't sit upright in my wheelchair any longer? Am I the one plagued with bedsores that just won't heal? Do I drool down my own front, fully aware of myself as I do so, poignantly lacking the requisite ability to stop this dignity defying thing?
Today this fragmented lady told me the terrible story of her own son's death as a little boy, who - naughty thing - climbed up on the school roof to fling whirly-gigs off its edge, though he'd been told not to countless times before. The floating, twirling, exciting beauty of it was too much temptation for him to resist. Roofs are dangerous places for seven-year-olds, invincible though they think they may be. This aching, remembering woman is fragmented not just because her body won't work properly anymore, but also because she's wheeling around on this earth with a prominent segment of her heart missing. That chunk of it went away when her littlest man did. I think he must be hurling whirly-gigs in Heaven today, only safely now. Soon, I'm going to stop typing so that I can ask God to help his Mama join him. I can tell that she misses him a lot.