Monday, October 26, 2015

The Truth in Judy's Eyes

Her brown eyes looked absorbed in fear but it was really hard for me to know because I wasn’t the one wearing the drab hospital gown.

The sterile antiseptic smells confused the reality of our family’s new normal.

I’m not sure what I was seeing in her eyes.

Maybe what I was seeing was her thirst. Finally something I could do. The nurse gave me a cup with water and a little stick with a sponge attached to its tip so I could moisten Judy’s dry lips. The morphine minimized the pain throughout her body but didn’t make it go away. Gently I dabbed her lips afraid I was hurting her. A little water dripped down her chin.

When the door of her room opened her eyes became wider and filled with dread, or so it seemed. My cousin directed her gaze from me to her brother who walked into the room full of life.

His entrance ushered in a quip that relegated me back to the sidelines of the aluminum bed rail as he took over and attended to his sister’s dry mouth.

Then someone assured her not to worry, that I would take her children home that night. I didn’t understand why her eyes looked fearful at the thought of me helping. Maybe because when she first learned she had cancer her husband had left her and their two children to figure this mess out. While I’m thinking I just wanted to do something and offer comfort, maybe she felt helpless and vulnerable.

For the longest time I was left with the haunting look of her wide fearful eyes and the quip from her brother. I felt like I had failed at the simple task of moistening her lips and driving her kids home.