Her dad is dying. Slow and fierce. Yesterday he threw up green bile, exorcist style. With no warning. It washed out of his mouth like a fire hydrant, then dribbled down his chin. It was green, dark green, like kale, or the leaves of an evergreen.
He has dementia. Lewy body dementia. The average lifespan of someone with this disease is seven years. He has been alive for ten. His wife died a year ago almost exactly. He’s been a vegetable for awhile now. His eyes staring blankly at the ceiling, clutching his left arm. We’re not sure what he sees. The white ceilings of a gaudy rehab center or…spaceships. She tells me that when a person is dying they see stars they try to pluck at. Or little twinklings. His arms can’t move enough to pluck, but perhaps his eyes see the stars. Who knows, maybe he can see beyond the hubble telescope. See what the rest of us are missing.
Or maybe he sees ceiling tiles. His mind blank and worn enough that nothing registers. His breathing comes in gaps now. His body looks yellow and it’s not just because he’s Japanese.
We go see him every day after work. She (my wife) gets off work at 5:15. We go see him after. Hang out for an hour or so. By the time we get home it’s late. 7:30 or so. We’re indecisive about dinner so we don’t eat dinner until 8:30. Or we get pizza or cheap Chinese food. By the time we eat, it’s 8:30 or 9. We watch some T.V. Go to bed, get up again and do it the next day. This is our life.
I’m getting bigger. Bigger and fatter. My stomach is like Buddhas. I used to ride my bike. But we have a dog now. And dying parents to attend to. Besides, I’m too tired anyways. I’ve drank every night this week. It doesn’t help my Buddha stomach. She doesn’t like that I keep smoking, but I don’t know what to tell her.
I have to run a Farmers Market booth for my coffee business tomorrow. I don’t want to. I also have to take a pay cut so we can move into a new location. I’ll have to get a part time job. It’ll probably be some fucking coffeeshop that serves gasoline. The perks of starting a small business. I haven’t written in weeks. My stomach’s been sick from alcohol. I’m listening to a lot of David Bazan and Glen Hansard.
His eyes are open. Staring.
We didn’t think he’d make it through the week…but he did. We didn’t think he’d make it through the weekend—but he did.
It’s Monday. Eight to nine days since he’s had food or drink.
She’s exhausted. We’re exhausted.
We sit here, waiting. Waiting for her dad to die. Waiting for relief.
She goes to work every day. Expecting a phone call. The call never comes.
Since the diagnosis, she knew it would be inevitable. But now it’s so close, and yet, so far away.
The medical bills pile up.
If anything her worse fear is if he doesn’t die. She’ll have to finish the Medicaid application. Come up with money out of thin air.
Not that she doesn’t love her dad, she does. More than ever. But there are practical implications to death. Debt. And medical bills, And funeral expenses. And so on. Those things disappear when death comes (sort of). Besides, he’s been sick for so long. A vegetable for years now.