We got to celebrate Christmas early this year. Our dear neighbors decorated their homes with Christmas lights and decor early, just in time for Eli to do a little driving tour. This was likely his last outing.
Having given birth to nine children, I am well acquainted with the work it takes to bring life into this world. However, I have experienced very little of the work it takes to die. Birth and death are eerily similar. With birth, you have different phases of labor (not to be confused with the 3 stages of labor), as I am only referring to the process leading to birth.
When a woman first goes into labor, contractions are mild and far apart. Then, as labor establishes itself, contractions become more intense and closer together Eventually, the most difficult part of the birthing process, is transition, when contractions are the most intense and frequent. While brief, this is when I tend to want a little relief from the intensity of each surge of my uterus as my body works towards birthing a new human into an existence separate from me.
Now, Eli is transitioning towards death and his body is engaged in the labor of dying. It’s been working at it for some time, but now death is within sight, probably days. Maybe a little less or a little more, depending.
He is too weak to walk or stand without help. He doesn’t eat anymore, except for a little watermelon from time to time. He quenches his thirst with shaved ice or beverages, as needed, but that is less frequent as his body has different priorities now. His voice is continuing to become more raspy and he is having increased difficulty talking. His breathing is more labored and, just yesterday, he started to sleep more frequently during the day.
I was told that the doctors were surprised he survived the weekend. Me? Not so much. Eli has always marched to the beat of his own drum and makes a habit of surprising the medical people. However, we are seeing daily changes, so that probably means he has only days left. I currently predict a funeral the weekend of Thanksgiving.
The right thing at the right time
So many people have been dropping things off for Eli or us or sending money via Venmo or doing the nicest things. One of today’s surprises was a custom knit bunny that looks just like the real bunny that has been visiting him almost every day. It was so sweet and thoughtful. I am continually amazed by those of you who seem to come up with just the right gifts at the right time.
Eli was not able to make it to Ella’s play, so he sent flowers, candy, and an incredibly sweet note to her at her performance last night.