Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dying Scene 2: Swabs and Bubbles

She will never eat again. Her choice. Really, looking back, the Complete and Total Loser's mother was eating a minimal amount for months, always with a current excuse.
"My stomach hurts."
That kind of thing. She was wasting away, not that everyone looks strong and thick at 80. She wanted strawberry smoothies and other fluids but barely touched protein, saying her daily Boost, the drink for seniors that has around 300 calories, was adequate.
She will drink, on this morning of last full day of her life. The Loser, at her request, holds a cup of water with a straw to her mouth and she takes a few sips. She still knows who the Loser is, he can tell, but doesn't really acknowledge him directly. By noon she doesn't drink but asks for swabs.
The swabs are little sponges about an inch and a half long by an inch on the end of a plastic stick. You dip them in water and bite on them to release the water or juice on them. They're a safe alternative to crushed ice, the Loser guesses, and you'd never see them outside a hospital.
For hours, the Loser dipped the swabs in a Styrofoam cup of water and puts them in his mother's mouth. She squeezed the swabs between tongue and pallet to get water. Her tongue was dark, almost black. After some dips, the swabs get gunky. The Loser throws them out and opens a new one.
Meanwhile, the Loser's mother wore one of those double plastic tubes in her nose for oxygen. There's a little box on the wall with water in it. The oxygen bubbles through the on its last leg from someplace beyond the wall to his mother's failing lungs. The bubbling is a steady, pleasant sound, soothing, like sounds from his parents' small koi pond.

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