Nov 28th 2007

Grief observed

Posted in Etta

November 28, 2007 – I almost always am up before sunrise, but never caught the sun quite this way before, photographer’s luck. Had a satisfying day writing, and I feel good about what I am writing. Feel lots of change around, some painful, some good. I have this theory that almost all change is good, sometimes revealing itself slowly, sometimes over time. That can’t be right.
C.S. Lewis says in his book “Grief Observed” that grief feels a lot like fear, in the physical way it affects your stomach and heart. I can see that. It is sometimes softer, more piercing, I think. But yes, a quickening of the heart, a tightness in the chest. I see this in hospice work sometimes.
Izzy and I went to meet Etta, this afternoon, perhaps the hospice patient he and I have bonded with the most. She was a farmer’s wife, and has been in a nursing home for 15 months, now dying of colon cancer. She is confused much of the time, and on morphine and other medications, but she is alert sometimes, flirtatious and mischievous. She has a wicked sense of humor and when I ask her how she likes Izzy – everybody is crazy about Izzy, she waved her hand, and said, “oh, he’s just a dog, really.” But she beamed when I said we would be back. She insists I come back for tea, and sit down like a proper guest.
She sometimes tries to get me to bring her some wine. She sometimes talks about sheep and loves dogs, and she says she used to watch her game shows at night, but can’t. Izzy has managed to get her attention twice, but although she can’t focus on him, she talks about him when he is gone. Two cats and a bossy Jack Russell went after Izzy on the way in, but he kept his cool.
Etta, say the nurses, is calmer since Izzy has been visiting. Less dementia and restlessness. I thinks he really just likes being visited, dog or human. We brought her some Xmas greens from Gardenworks and left her looking quietly at them, then falling asleep. She asked me just before we left if I might drove her out for a ride, as there isn’t much to do, she said. I wish I could have. Apart from Etta, Izzy now has a half dozen girlfriends in the nursing home, and he visits them on his way out. I think we will be at this nursing home often during the holidays, as long as Etta wants us there, and as long as Izzy keeps making girlfriends. Somehow, he rarely ends up with men.