FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

I’m Seeing Dead Children

Early in the day, I made another commitment to meditation. I sat for 21 looooonnng minutes, my head littered with stray thoughts and redirects.

Mid-afternoon, WidowRica called to talk me into a movie—“Amour.” “While most of Baltimore preps for the Ravens, let’s go to The Charles.” Told me M said the film’s about cohousing.

I’d read a review. Knew it was a story of devotional love. The husband, Georges, becomes caregiver to his increasingly dependent wife Anne after she endures a stroke, surgery, another stroke, indignity, dementia, and more indignity.

But cohousing?

Insert: Some months ago, I accompanied WidowRica and two of her friends to locations in downtown Baltimore. We looked at property for the construction of an intentional community, owned and designed by the residents, where each of us would have private space, share a communal kitchen, other planned areas, have company when we wanted and solitude when we didn’t—caring for each other during good health, bad, the ugly, all the way.

And the movie, well, it’s intense. Poignant. Painful. Excruciating. Real. Emmanuelle Riva brilliantly portrays Anne, the wife so cruelly assaulted by illness. I was jarred by her resemblance to my mother who died in 2011—the facial features, hair color and style, the wit and intelligence. Well, the wit and intelligence of Anne before multiple strokes.

Laura, Erma, and I (The Sisterhood) were at Mother’s side during her nine dying days when she refused food. She was snappy (“I guess breakfast is out of the question.”) through day six. Hospice came.

I thought too of my father. The transient ischemic attacks. A stroke. Another. Anne’s condition and the level of care required after her first stroke reminded me of him.  Unsteady, wobbly, he must’ve hated hearing, “Get your balance,” each time he struggled to stand. He fell and broke his hip in May of 2008, a few days before my husband died. Seven months later, my father had another stroke at the breakfast table. Laura, Erma, and I somehow moved him from the wheelchair to his bed. He was conversational, lucid, unlike Anne, who became demented. Then a third stroke affected his swallowing. Hospice came.

Of course, I thought of the months I was my husband’s caregiver—the small hopes and a surgical procedure that could have been a cure but wasn’t. No hope.

So, there was all that. The memories. Connections. My parents. My husband. The caregiving. The isolation. The horror, the diminishment, the downward spiral to helplessness.

My parent’s words, “Old age is a calamity.”

I saw an elderly neighbor and spoke with her briefly before the movie began. Later, she said, “We need better choices at end of life.”

“Final Exit Network,” I said.

WidowRica was seated beside me. WidowRica who’s been mourning four years, now. WidowRica (aka Sparkin’ Light) with her smile and joie de vivre. WidowRica whose widowy adventures, quests to feel alive, are similar to mine. WidowRica believes, as I do, that if she dies tonight of a massive coronary, FINE.

And, yes, I could see M’s “about cohousing.” Unlike Georges and Anne, those of us living this particular nexus would be among caring friends, lessening the burden for spouses, partners, our children—distributing it, really.

I just don’t want anyone to bear my weight.

My sons understand. The when. Before indignities define my life.

I drove home, preoccupied, chest pounding. Missed both exits near the Kingdom. This wasn’t a negative—the extra miles. I stared at the night sky and began to relax.

A piano passage danced softly. And then a radio voice interrupted with: “The Happiness Movement” and “World Database of Happiness.” I shook my head, as if to clear an aisle or two. How can any of us be happy when children are being droned?

I’d shifted from the brutality of devastating disease and old age to drones.

At home, I typed “The Happiness Movement” and “World Database of Happiness” into a search, finding several sites. One took me to “Politics,” where I saw a clickable “Peace.” Soon I was on another web address, reading, “The world has become more peaceful for the first time since 2009…” This was written in 2012. But it’s February of 2013, and I’m seeing dead children.

This day is an article. This article is a day. These words are as littered as I was when I sat, trying to quiet my mind. As littered as I was when I sat in the theater, littered with the past, littered with all the uncertainties of the future, choices, medical events that might make decisions less controllable or beyond any control, and littered with images of my parents, my husband, drones. All this as I drove, stared at the sky, came home, looked at the sites, clicking on highlighted words, leading to peace. Linking to peace. As if it ever could be that easy.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com  

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail