I. You know. Or your body knows, even if your brain does not yet comprehend; your body knows and begins to prepare in small ways, subtle changes of your breath, the energy in your limbs, there’s something restless and exhausted brewing in your bones. Your body knows, and as you look up at me with question in your eyes I see the answer there too, at the bottom of your soul or the pit of your stomach or somewhere equally deep and hidden, somewhere a still, small voice whispers calmly: yes, it says, yes, it is time.

II. Your daughter is clutching. At your hands, your bedsheets, the crochet yarns and hooks, her heart, her shirt, her husband’s hands, his shirt, her hair, your IV pole as she helps you to the bathroom. Her hands are tight around anything and everything as she twines her fingers into your life and will not let you go, not for a second, not for a breath, not for anything in this world or any other.
It is her husband who yells, under his breath in the hallway when he follows us out the door, closing it behind him, screaming in harsh tones as quietly as he can so you do not hear him (although you know what he says, you always know, but you don’t let him know you know, because he needs to be angry right now) — his fury is upon us when we do not control your pain, when your pain medication makes you too tired to speak, when you do not eat, when you do not like what you are eating. He is too clever for us, he knows our language of palliative care and hospice is code for giving up and throwing away, and he will not hear it. He is the one who yells, and he will sue us, all of us, and this hospital, he will sue us all until you are not dying anymore.

III. It is the time between when your body knows and when you know and when your family knows, it is the time between when I am shredded. To play God in that time for me would be first to fix it, miracle cure or laying on of hands or amazing self-healing fix it, but if not to fix it then to turn the clock forward days or hours to the time which follows. When your eyes understood what your body had known, and the papers are signed and the family is weeping and you are waiting, in that time there is healing of a different kind which is needed, so needed, but I am not God and I do not want His burdens, and so I cannot move you ahead to that time any faster than you can move yourself. But you move me, in the time between, waiting for you to catch up to yourself. You move me, and I am grateful.

Note: there is not an actual Ann, which I feel I must explicitly state for depressing legal reasons. Or rather, there is not one Ann, but have been many over the last year, and I am grateful to all of them.