hospice bingo

25 08 2008

When we came into the hospice center I feel like we should have gotten a bingo card.  Life isn’t fair and neither is death.  There was a family last week who’s elderly relative was brought in and two hours later – she was gone. They barely had time to find out where the free coffee was.  Then there’s us…two weeks and counting.

Hospice is like the heavenly lotto…I know I’ve said this before but we’ve been overwhelmed with the care that has gone into the design of this entire facility.  A place to do our laundry, quiet rooms to escape to when we need it, a library, baked goods brought in each week by volunteers, pop for 50 cents a can…last Friday two massage therapists giving chair massages along with some aromatherapy and meditation from a stress-relief therapist.  We were like noodles.  Who does this?  What haven’t they thought of…

The demons of hospice live in my head – the voices that come at me each morning I awake grabbing at my cell phone to see if I’ve slept through “the” call – or is my ringer turned off?  – or is my phone not charged?…only to find there were no calls, no news, no changes to report.  A heart still beating at 180 beats a minute, a blood pressure that has dropped lower than 80/50, rapid breathing…then apnea…then rapid…then apnea.  But we are still in the game…  

The voices that echo in the stillness of the night wondering what if I’d never called hospice in the first place…where would we be…better? worse? over?  The screech that says maybe this is a cruel thing afterall – there must be some reason he’s not gone – is he mad at me afterall for having moved him out of the house?  Is there someone he wants to talk to that never showed up?  The whisper that says I must have imagined the severity of his symptoms and put wheels in motion that can’t be stopped.

Then my insanity is gone – like a brain burp.  I focus once again on the bingo card of life and grapple with the harsh reality that our number has yet to be called and I can’t fault the “Caller” for how the numbers come out of the tumble cage – hand picked and carefully read. No mistakes, no re-do’s.

Maybe this long game has been good for us all – a slow adjustment to learning to play the game without Billy right here rather than a  more sudden exit that would have left us breathless and reeling.  This is the marathon bingo – the triatholon event of the sport.  I should have known Billy is a world class competitor.

The clapping monkey is poised ready to swing into action the minute our number is called and our bingo card is complete.  Go monkey go!