You can read Chapter I of “Maizie K. Roberts – An Extraordinary Woman” here. Chapter I looks back on Mother’s Day 2012; the last day I had with nana before she went to the hospital and passed away three days later, on May 16, 2012.
Again, I contemplated not writing this; mostly because I wasn’t sure if it had a place here on my blog. And then I realized that it does because it’s important to acknowledge both pain and beauty in life. “Hospitals, Part I & II” occurred six years ago; it’s written exactly as the events on May 14th and 15th occurred, however it’s narrated from both a 16 and 22-Year-Old me.
Hospitals, Part I & II: May 14 — May 15
It’s a sinking feeling really; the feeling of losing someone you love, losing them rapidly yet slowly (what an oxymoron), and not being able to do a single thing about it. It’s frustrating. And terrifying. And it’ll make you angry and make you feel lost, that you’ll have to step away from everyone for a while to get a grip – At least that’s how it is for me; how I feel.
The following events unfolded quickly: I woke up mid-morning on the 14th, checked on nana, made her breakfast, and when I went to give the breakfast to her she wasn’t hungry; she hasn’t been eating much these past few days. I tried to convince her to eat, however nana can be so stubborn at times; then again so can I. My parents were out of the house that morning and I was home with nana, Nick, Riley, and Paul – I did make a call to my parents, informing them that nana’s condition looks seemingly worse; the hip pain she’s been experiencing is increasing and she’s not eating, or should I say, refusing to eat. I’m at a total loss; above all else, I detest the feeling of helplessness. And right about now, I feel helpless. A million thoughts run through my head; how can I help nana better, what can we do, what is going to happen, what could I have done better. And, even though I have these questions and thoughts, I know that there comes a day when these things happen; you get older and you’re not as physically strong as you once were. I don’t want to believe it though! I don’t want to face a reality without her; without nana. Without my friend. Even though I can look directly into the face of a problem and in the face of reality, I have a tendency of thinking that somehow, I could possibly change the inevitable outcome. And, more times than I’d like to admit, I often can’t. This would be one of those times.
When my parents returned home, there were many decisions that needed to be made. One of the decisions, most difficult decision made, was to ask nana what she wanted and to hear that she felt that it was time for her to go the hospital; there was a brief discussion of possibly going to a nursing home as well. Unfortunately, due to the fact she was growing weaker, we had to call an ambulance to transport her from our home to the hospital; I went to nana’s bedroom and began helping her get ready to go – I removed some of her jewelry; her necklace and a few of her rings, while the EMT, when EMS arrived, was able to remove her other ring. I didn’t say much to nana, mostly because I felt sad for her and I also felt guilty – I felt guilty because maybe if I would have been able to get her to eat more, or if I didn’t say anything at all that morning on the 14th, she would be able to stay at home with us. With me. It was a difficult situation for all involved, for nana, especially for my mom – No son or daughter wants to ever see their parent in pain or see them declining in health, especially when that parent was always the strong one. It’s very heartbreaking to witness and even more heartbreaking to be a part of.
EMS transported nana to the hospital and we all piled into the car; mom, dad, me, Nick, Riley, and Paul; we followed the ambulance a few cars back. It was a weird feeling; a feeling of being stuck in some sort of limbo. We arrived at the hospital, Hilo Medical Center, and we waited in the waiting room of the ER while mom and dad went to speak with someone to determine what was happening with nana – I didn’t see nana during this time at all; we weren’t allowed in the patient area. We sat in the waiting room for a very long time; enough time passed that I was able to watch the sky change from varying shades before it was sunset. I sat in nearly the same chair for over five hours; not caring to move, not wanting to move forward. Hospitals are a very odd place to be – It’s this place of transition – It’s a place where babies are born, where the sick can be healed, but it’s also a place where you don’t always make it out alive. I was wondering what would it be? What category would this fall into? Nana is 95. Would she get better and live to 100? Would she ever see her home again? Would I ever hear her voice again?
Nick, Riley, and Paul were seated in the waiting room as well; eating snacks out of the vending machine and watching TV. The room was full of people all waiting for answers about the people that they cared about; one of the ladies even complimented my flip flops I was wearing – “Thank you!” I said. It was nice of her to say that. Finally, both mom and dad returned to the waiting room – They explained that nana was in the process of being admitted to the hospital and that she did have cancer that had spread throughout her hip/back area; that would be the source of her hip pain that she had been experiencing lately. It was becoming clearer – She had been tired, in pain, loss of appetite, declining in the health that she had. Cancer made sense. It also didn’t make sense, but then again, I suppose it never does.
It was dark when nana was finally admitted; my siblings and I waited outside on the bench. My mom and dad went up to make sure nana was settled. While we waited on the bench, I recognized one of the Poolees from the Marine office; he was with his family, probably visiting someone who would make it out of here, I thought to myself. I went back to talking with my siblings and we eventually decided we would devour numerous ice cream bars from the vending machine; I lost count of how many we ate. Ice cream sure does have the ability to cheer you up. It was probably 10 PM, when dad came down from the third floor (or second floor; I always get the two floors mixed up), and he told us we could go visit nana before it was time for us to go home. I’ll leave out the details of my bratty behavior towards my dad, regarding the comment of us having to eventually go home – It’s not as though I could camp out at the hospital and it’s not as though it was his fault for anything that was happening. At the end of the night, of course, everyone was dealing with their own feelings and thoughts in their own way. Unfortunately, no amount of creamsicles would make the night better, not for me or for anyone else. My siblings looked at me as their leader to take them up to the right floor; it was time to face a reality I didn’t want to acknowledge and that was to see nana lying in a hospital bed. And I did just that. I took them up to the floor and we said goodnight to nana. As I was leaving the hospital room, nana called out to me; she was cheerful, and she wanted me to get her a glass of water – I couldn’t get her a glass of water because the nurse was already getting it, however this would be the very last time I would hear nana’s voice.
It was a strange feeling going back home knowing that everything would be different – Nana wouldn’t be there, mom and dad were having to make difficult decisions, my siblings were going to have to adjust and yet they were still able to be children, and I felt as though I was responsible for nana; I wanted to change the circumstances and it was beyond frustrating knowing that I couldn’t.
Nana continued to decline on the 15th; she mostly slept and was administered a morphine drip. By this time my mom let the entire family know that nana was in the hospital and her condition was not improving. Family members started visiting nana at all hours; those that lived off the island started calling. It was both a calm and hectic time; the two things that helped me throughout this time was remaining focused on school and helping my mom. In fact, those were the only things that I wanted to focus on. I spent many hours at the hospital, as did the rest of my family.
The startling realization occurred to me as I sat next to nana, and that was the fact that I would not be having any more conversations with her; she was right there next to me, but she was so far away.