Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writing, Interrupted

Last week, I did not meet my weekly target of 5k words. I wrote only a paltry 600 words and I struggled with that, but managed to limp over the 50k mark.

It wasn't lack of interest or lack of ideas; it was because life interrupted- and in an important way. The little, old lady that I'd been blessed to take care of for the past two and a half years was dying and at the great age of 96. And suddenly, my three days a week turned into everyday and two overnights. I readily volunteered to be there, even though this lady was no relation of mine. Three months after I moved to Ireland in 2006, my own grandmother died in my sister's home and I was unable to get home to be at the bedside or the funeral. That has bothered me ever since. In a way, this was a chance for me to make amends as well as be there for my friend who had always been kind to me at a time when I needed kindness in my life. Dying is a funny, unpredictable business. It conveniences no one and although end of life symptoms tend to be universal, what may take one person twenty fours hours to transition will take another person ten days. And for those at the bedside, dying is a watch and wait type of thing. Keeping your patient comfortable is the most important thing as well as supporting them and reassuring them that they are not alone and that it is ok to leave. It's also an exhausting and draining experience- just ask anyone who has taken care of a dying loved one at home.

But there is a sense of satisfaction in helping someone transition out of this earthly plane to whatever waits on the other side.

In this particular home last week, there was a sense of calm and serenity. At times, it was almost meditative. In an extraordinary moment, as she embraced her daughter, I saw how she looked at her with a love that was bursting, unconditional and pure. It was beautiful to see.

By the end of the week, she died a peaceful death with her family by her side.

And despite being away from my book for a week, I am happy for that rich experience of having the chance to say goodbye to My Darling ( the name we called each other).