Someone I Know

Someone I know is dying. He’s in a country miles away and has developed blood clots in the brain. No, it is not the virus, rather old age and the body breaking down. My family has been receiving daily phone calls about the situation. Thanks to the pandemic, there are fewer opportunities to travel safely. The vaccine may help if any of my family do need to go, to handle the arrangements.

I don’t know this person well, in terms of how often we met. In all honesty, I didn’t really know him, because I let others’ biases color my view. When I was a kid, he would visit and we would go on walks I didn’t appreciate. In addition, he hosted trips that sometimes went wrong. Other times they were fine. He paid for part of my graduate school tuition, something I hadn’t requested because at the time I was naively thinking I had tuition remission. Our last conversation over the phone had him asking me for a link to one of my books. I haven’t sent it, but considering I write speculative fiction and my latest book was a horror story with gruesome violence, I worry about causing additional stress by linking it.

The personal stories were different. People in my family have tales to tell about this person. Some were less than flattering. Others were hilarious, namely the one involving a cheesecake that was virtually inedible. Or I heard the aftermath of phone calls. Now he can’t even answer the phone due to being comatose. A nursing crew has to fuss over him in his home, and he has no intubation. That means he has no life support. It’s a matter of days.

I don’t have anything poignant or meaningful about how life seems to be short, and that we can either die when it feels like we haven’t begun working on our goals, or when we are at the tether. Instead, I’m thinking about the fact that the doctors didn’t put him on life support. The thought fills me with rage, that they didn’t give him that choice.

This person has survived a lot before, including a previous hospital stay, but he is not surviving this. We are waiting for an end that no one wants, at a time when few can visit him internationally. The last time someone I knew died, they were a high school classmate. I felt only numbness and shock, knowing who it was and finding out the truth in Spanish newspapers.  Before, there was my maternal grandmother, whom I only knew was a smiling woman on visits to India.

Tomorrow it may be the time for that dreaded phone call. Or not. But it is coming, regardless.