I didn’t think I could go to the back of the house and into the spare room where he lay curled up on a hospital bed. I told myself I was here for my mother. She shuffled back and forth from the front room to the back. One time carrying his next morphine dose another time a cool rag to sooth the fever that racks his body as it tries to shut down.
My youngest brother came and I pointed to the back and said, “You can go back, it’s okay. Wanda is with him.” he choked back an answer and just shock his head no. He couldn’t do it and I understood.
My older brother kept milling about back and forth, sitting in one chair and then another. Room to room we all seemed to pivot avoiding the obvious as best we could and making small talk about this and that.
My sister -in-law look at me as if to ask if I had taken my turn yet….I shook my head no. But again said ,”feel free to go back, Wanda is there.” I then realized my mother was in the room and that Denver was alone. I took Olga’s hand and she gripped it tightly. Silently we walked down the narrow hall to the spare bedroom together. His breath labored and infrequent, he seems so slight and fragile. Not at all the giant and imposing figure he has been all my life. There was a softness I had never seen before. And I knew then that I could do this. Not that I should, but that I COULD.
The hours pass by and we convinced Wanda to go lie down. She is afraid to relax too much or even sleep but she knows she must. The men we sent to rest at their own homes. We sit up, we women. Cleaning and shuffling about and listening. Waiting.