Went to see Mr. D today. He is the other senior I visit on Sundays - the only one now that Ann is gone. I haven't seen him for a few weeks and it was a shock to walk in to his room and find him lying in bed, sunken and shriveled. Wearing only a night shirt and no teeth, he looked skeletal. He said he hasn't eaten in weeks.
I've never before seen Mr. D in bed. Usually when I come he is bent over his little table, working on a hook rug or a puzzle. Sometimes he is dozing, but he has always been more or less upright. But he's been mostly in bed for the last few weeks - the time that I have been away.
I can't say for certain that he is dying. But he certainly doesn't look well and it is hard to know what to hope for. He had surgery in his stomach years ago and apparently it has become infected and he is coughing up some nasty stuff. I held a glass so he could sip water through a straw - such tiny, weak sips- and gave him spoonfuls of ice. But when the nurse came by to give him his pills crushed up in chocolate pudding, he spent the next 15 minutes coughing up brown phlegm.
He seemed alert, but very tired. He would lose his breath mid-sentence. There were long pauses when we did not talk at all and I just sat in the wheelchair beside his bed, watching him breathe heavily, squirm in discomfort. Felt helpless.
I stayed for an hour, but eventually had to leave. That felt wrong. It is one thing to come and go each week, when I know that he is going down to dinner, will come back to his room and puzzle or hook for awhile before going to bed. But to leave alone a man who is dying. That is just not right.
But yet, here I am back home and there he is across town, alone in a room on the 5th floor as the sky grows dark outside and a long night falls.