When someone dies of cancer it isn’t anything like the bullshit romantic last words version we know from the movies. It’s them being unable to walk. Then unable to eat. Then drink. Then talk. When the doctor gave us her final diagnosis it was for two weeks to a month. She ended up dying barely two weeks later. For the last few days it was hard for her to speak because of the pain medicine she needed. I don’t know if she was awake under that fog, but I tried to reassure her and do my best. I was up with her one night because she woke up and seemed confused. She kept trying to ask me something but none of the words made sense and I couldn’t figure out what she wanted. She kept repeating the same nonsense phrases and I could tell she was asking me something. All I could think was that she was going to die and I couldn’t fucking figure out what she wanted me to do for her. God damnit I just wanted to get her what she wanted. In that moment everything is so fucked I would do anything do make her life 1% better. I started guessing and finally said, “do you want to know what’s going on?” and she replied, “YES”. I told her she had late stage cancer and that she was dying. She smiled and looked utterly relieved. She had forgotten what was happening to her and was scared because she didn’t understand what was going on.
The next day she began having difficulty breathing. Hospice tells caregivers that the “death rattle” isn’t painful for the patient, but it sure sounds like it is. I don’t know what water boarding is like, but this doesn’t seem far off. Constantly struggling for each breath. Like listening to someone gargle after brushing their teeth. Her family and I sat with her all night because we didn’t know what was going to happen. And then all of a sudden something changed and instead of labored breathing she was gasping but nothing was going in or out. Like a fish out of water. I was holding her hand and telling her it was going to be okay but I don’t fucking know what that was like. I don’t know if she was even aware. Ten seconds later that was it. Everything stopped. She used to be right there and then she just wasn’t. I could literally feel her hand getting cooler. I wanted so badly to keep her safe but I couldn’t do anything and I have no idea what happens in that moment.
Her 25th birthday would have been two weeks ago. Life is totally random and I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse. I do know that everyone should live each moment to the fullest. There’s too many things we can’t predict.