It’s Christmas eve 2017. I’m driving my mother to the hospice to see my auntie, She’s had terminal brain cancer for 6 years now. Each day that passes brings her closer to the end. As I’m driving my mother utters the words “This is the end”. She didn’t have to say anything else, my eyes open up like an overflowing canal and the rest of the journey is held in silence.
We arrive at the hospice, it’s a sunny day, the cruel irony. Press buzzer, sign in, enter the room…There she is. Her face is warped and twisted, skin pale and bruised. She struggles to string a hello together as she sit’s there paralyzed in her chair. The once youthful look she held is gone, her hair in tatters and her posture crippled into a constant abstract shape. A large chunk of my family surrounded her making idle conversation, ignoring the pure reality of the situation, death sits among us.
My overactive ego tries to lighten the mood with tales of my latest dating exploits, new recipes I’m learning to cook and general waffle about my life, the family laugh, and my aunt stares blankly into the distance. What seems like a lifetime of inane conversation continues and the doctor arrives and ushers my uncle out of the room. A cold silence fills the pale pink walls and the thought of places where you die and color schemes oddly pops into my head. I wouldn’t want to die in front of a pale pink, give me something vibrant.
More time passes and some nurses enter the room, true saints, worship them not your sports hero’s and your depraved pseudo-celebrities. They have come to give my aunt a morphine deliverance system. A tumor has grown on her ovaries and is pressing on the bowls. I turn to my nan (My aunties mother) and the look on her face haunts me, it hasn’t left my mind. All the blood on her face was gone, she looked disheveled, twisted and scarred…my stomachs in my hands. My uncle asks us to leave the room and give them some privacy.
We’re in the waiting room and my uncle sits down immediately with his head in hands revealing all. “The tumor in her ovaries has grown too large…it’s pressing on the colon and the bowl… she can’t eat, go the toilet, she can’t do anything…the doctor says a few days, weeks minimum” That cold silence creeps back in only broken by the flood of tears by my nan, I hold her in my arms trying to reassure her, but I have nothing, no words, no inspirational speeches, no wisdom…Sometimes you have to sit with the reality of a situation and feel every ounce of it, I’ve never felt such pain in my life.
My emotions couldn’t take the situation anymore but one last gut punch to the stomach was making my final goodbye to my auntie. I walk into her room and she sits there a husk. I rest my forehead on hers and kiss her cheek. “I love you Jo”. The tears erupt from my ducts but I turn swiftly to hide them. “Happy Christmas.” I walk down the dimly lit corridors and feel like I’m dragging boulders with me, I can’t even say goodbye to the rest of my family.
I don’t pray to god in the car park. I look up to the sky which was once full of light and now is overcast with darkness and grey, the threat of a storm looms. I sit with the newly created memory I have of my family in pain and weep, I weep forever. I curse the world in which we live In as my new found feelings of hope and goodness are destroyed. If miracles are real that’s the only hope I have left.