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Absolution From the Dying...


Senior Member
Jan 7, 2004
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Columbus, OH
Her mother lay there,swaddled in technology, her eyes opening from time to time but not really focusing on anything, or anyone, in particular. The rhythmic, mechanical hissing of the ventilator pumped air into her failing lungs, the occasional beep of an alarm providing a counter-point. Next to Mother’s bed, another machine supplemented her failing kidneys. Twin lines, the color of old wine, snaked from the machine to her neck startling in their contrast to the white of the bed-sheets, as they circulated her life’s blood through a filter.

She looked over to the nurse tending the dialysis machine, “I wanted to be a hematologist, you know…” he leaned forward listening, “…But life just got in the way before I could even get started.” The nurse quietly agreed with her, as he recorded numbers from the monitor above Mother’s bed. “Marriage, kids, now this,” looking down at her mother, “It just never happened.”

The nurse, the machines, the room faded into the background as she focused on her mother. Her eyes were open, and she was looking at her. “Mom, are you in pain?” she asked. Her mother’s eyes remained focused on her face as she shook her head weakly, “No.” Now to what she truly needed to know, “Do you want them to keep doing everything for you?” the whole time nodding her head yes in her desire for some sign from Mother, anything to help ease the burden she felt. “I want them to keep doing everything,” she continued, “But do you?” again, nodding in the hopes of her mother’s affirmation, now with a hint of desperation in her voice. Instead her mother closed her eyes and let the sedation draw her back into its grasp.

Stifling a sob, she stood up and left the room. The oldest of the three sisters, all wanting their mother’s life to continue regardless of what it took, was railing inside against the unfairness of it all. The decision was falling on her shoulders, damn them, they should have a share in this decision. Instead they pushed it off to her, if she let Mother die, it will be her fault. But that was the way it had always been…An alcoholic, abusive father…Mother but a pale shadow, never questioning his excesses…And she, the oldest, taking the role of caregiver for her younger siblings. It was so unfair.

As she wandered, lost in her thoughts, she found herself in front of one of the hospital’s meditation rooms. It was empty, so she closed the door behind her and sat down. The silence was deafening. Her blood roared in her ears, her breathing sounded thunderous. And she turned inwards.

Her life, passed before her eyes in a torrent of images, “Funny,” she thought, “Isn’t this supposed to happen when you’re dying?” All the unspoken thoughts, all of the unasked questions over all of the years between her sisters, her mother, and her father long dead…the bastard. If she could only, somehow, go back in time and change all of that, everything would be different…somehow. Such are the wishes of the child she never really had a chance to be.

As the quiet seeped into her, a measure of calmness returned. As calmness returned so too did a measure of clarity. “I don’t want answers,” she thought, “I want absolution.” Absolution for all she left unsaid and undone. All of the conversations she’d never had with Mother about the very thing she now faced. All of the inadequacy she’d felt as she'd taken care of her sisters. All of the anger she felt towards Father, and Mother who remained silent in the face of Father’s drunken rages. “Absolution from the dying. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.” she thought. But that’s the way it was.

Roused from her reverie, she started back to her mother’s room. Time to talk to the doctors. She knew what she needed to do. She knew what Mother would want.


Diamond Member
May 10, 2007
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well written , very moving .

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