Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Real Death

On Sunday morning a woman I have known for more than fifteen years died. She died in a foreign country with her notoriously insensitive and foolish husband by her side, along with his family members. I am sure that if she had been coherent, if she had not been blanketed in the haze that pain medication creates, she would have really liked for her parents to be there, her siblings, her children, but unfortunately she didn't really know what was going on when her notoriously insensitive and foolish husband put her frail and jaundiced body onto a plane bound for Germany in an 11th hour attempt to cure her stage 3 cancer. If she hadn't been so ill, or on morphine for the pain, she might have said, "You know what? It's too late. Germany sounds great, though. I'll visit it in the next life, okay?" Or perhaps if he had thought to take her there for the unique treatment available months ago when there was still a sliver of a chance, it would have been fine. It might have even worked. That's not how it played out though. He put her on a plane and in his notoriously insensitive and foolish way chose not to invite her parents, or her siblings, or her children. Above all her children.

When her daughter discovered this plot, it was via the drugged lips of her mother.

"I'm going to to Germany!"

"What Mom? When are you going to Germany?"


"She doesn't know what she's talking about, " the notorious one said. After much prying though, he gave in and divulged the plot, but demanded that no on else know, especially his wife's parents, a couple of devout Catholics in their 80's whose own bodies have toiled in witness to their daughter's impending death. Why? I don't know. I asked the same question. Why, when they love her so much, were they kept in the dark? These people who treat me like their own granddaughter, adopted through friendship, long and loving so that now we are family.

The next day I got a text message from my best friend: "My mom is going to Germany today for one last try. She'll be gone for ten days. I think this was the last time I'll see her alive."

Two days later I got another text: "I'm going to Germany today. I leave shortly."

I immediately called her and asked what had happened. Apparently when her mother arrived in Germany the doctors, upon examining her and taking some tests, discovered that all her organs were failing. They hooked her up to machines while a phone call was made to my best friend. She has forty-eight hours to live. Hurry.

I talked to her while she was on her way to the airport. Her anger resonated through the airwaves but was controlled, calm. She was determined to make it on time.

My best friend's plane arrived in Frankfurt at 11:30 a.m. German time. Her mother passed at approximately 9 a.m. Her name was Nancy.

Her body is resting currently in a chilled locker in Frankfurt until the necessary paperwork to bring her home is submitted and approved. Apparently they don't do embalming in Germany.

I had to write about this because I'm dealing with it; it's incredibly upsetting. Nancy and I planned my best friend's baby shower together, before she got sick, before she died. I remember getting exasperated with her a couple of times. Mothers are good at that. Now I feel bad for ever feeling that way. I titled this post "Real Death" because there is a big difference between just writing about death and experiencing it in real life. That goes without saying, but I felt I should explain myself. Now I have to go to a funeral. Now I have to hold my best friend up, hold her hand. Now we mourn. And the notoriously insensitive and foolish one? My best friend swears she will never speak to him again.

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