On December 23rd, 2015 I was more tired than I had ever been.
My mother was declining ever faster into dementia and taking care of her was becoming a full-time job. A full-time job that I was trying to balance with my actual full-time job. I had bought a house where I could better take care of her, and was mired in month two of renovating it so that it was safe for her to live in. Christmas was coming in two days. The new mattresses I ordered were being delivered, but were running late. There were a million things that all needed doing and I was struggling to juggle everything.
Then I got a call from the nursing home that my grandmother didn't have much time left.
She had been slipping away little by little all week and I had increased my visits from twice a week... to daily... to multiple times a day once she stopped eating over the weekend. At that point there was nothing I could do except make sure that she wasn't suffering, so that's what I did. She meant the world to me, and I was grateful that I was in a position where I could look out for her. When I stopped by on my way to work that morning she was resting comfortably thanks to the morphine that was being regularly administered. I thought it was going to be a day just like the day before.
And it was.
Until it wasn't.
After I got the call I dropped everything and ran to the nursing home. There I met with the hospice nurse who said that the staff should have explained that she was in her last stages, yes, but it could be hours yet before she passed. She assured me that it was safe for me to go back to work and that she would call if grandma started to pass.
After work I checked in on mom. Then ran back to check on grandma. Then continued going back and forth. Once mom had settled in for the night, I turned on all the security cameras and decided I'd spend the night at the nursing home and keep tabs on mom remotely.
I was all alone.
As I had been all along.
Nobody would be helping me keep watch. Nobody ever helped. Nobody wanted to be there at the end. Not even me. Because watching somebody you love die is tough. But there was no way I'd be leaving her alone. She would never have left me alone.
So it was just me holding my grandmother's hand and talking to her as she lay slowly fading away.
Earlier that month a friend had known I was struggling and forwarded me an article from Esquire titled The Friend. It's about a guy who's young wife was dying from cancer and how a friend moved in for two years to help him take care of his wife and two daughters. It was a beautiful and touching story that was meant to bring me comfort. But all I could think about was how the author of the article had a friend willing to help but I had nobody.
Which begs the question... How can life have a happy ending when you're dead at the end of it?
It wasn't until years later that I happened across the article again while preparing for my mom's death that I managed to truly appreciate it. Even though I was all alone. Again. I read the article so many times that I practically had it memorized. That's how much it meant to me.
Needless to say, I was a little excited when I read that the article was being made into a movie...
And this past weekend I finally watched it because it was free with Amazon Prime.
And it was fantastic. Really did the original article justice, which was surprising to me for some reason. And the performances were better than you could even hope for.
Fast-forward to tonight.
Gwendoline Christie has a small part in Our Friend. It's wonderful. And it's haunted me ever since I saw the movie. So I pulled it up on Amazon Prime so I could rewatch her scenes.
I knew I'd be watching the movie again... but I also knew that I couldn't watch it again right away. It's just too exhausting. But here I am. Turns out it was impossible to just watch one small part of it without being compelled to watch the whole thing all over again.
So, yeah, if you've got Amazon Prime, it's worth a look.