If Dying Sounds Like Singing

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Elizabeth Grace Wolf, New Jersey

Momma had another seizure this morning following 2 days of inconsolable, raving hallucinations. She’s been under hospice care the past 2 months and, until this event, had been showing signs of improvement as they’ve weaned her off some medications. Dad witnessed the first part of her seizure – a ghoulish shriek warping into a convulsive fit.

I ushered him quickly from the bed and out of the bedroom while my husband turned Momma on her side and cleaned the blood and saliva bubbling from her mouth. “But what was that scream for?” Dad wanted to know. He was convulsing himself, defenseless in his tee and disposable undergarment, standing in the middle of the living room. It was 6am and the sun had just started peeking above the neighborhood rooftops. “She’s alright Dad,” I tried to convince him and muttered something about her being startled while I scrambled for the purple folder where the hospice phone number lives.

We have had to become storytellers, to live inside dueling fantasies, to create them ourselves as an act of compassion. Dad was wearing that haunted face. It has been etching away at his soft-eyed countenance these past weeks, replacing it with a gaunt and ashy hollow of a man. A man lost inside lostness.

I am losing my father. I am losing my mother too. I am lost. I am inconsolable.

After the nurse leaves I take Dad to her. She is in that postictal deep sleep and I think if he sees her peaceful he will feel peace. “Can I kiss her?” His unsteady voice comes. “Please kiss her. Please kiss her.”

Back and forth between her bedside and his chair… I am dizzy. How do I spread my comfort? How do I do right by them? How will I survive?

Hours later, Dad is at his day program while I stare upon my mother emitting moaning cries and songs. If dying sounds like singing, what does living sound like?


Note from the author: I’m Lizzie. I am the oldest daughter of Anna (aka Nancy) and Louis Brood. When I was 29 years old both my parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease within 4 months of each other. That was 7 years ago and I have been caring for them ever since in the very home where they raised me, my sister Katie, and my brother Garrett. This disease slowly and horrifically ravaged our mother’s mind and body to death, and she left this world on February 10, 2017. I am blessed and grateful to continue caring for my father, my poppy. His love is my strength, my salvation, my everything. I blog about my life as a family caregiver at www.upsidedowndaughter.com and keep an active photo journal on Instagram @upsidedowndaughter.

 

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