My mother-in-law is not doing well at all. Kelly is with her now, and it’s one of those situations where you know it could be any time, and you walk out of the room fairly certain you will never see her again – each and every time you walk out of the room. You fear the phone call – maybe in the middle of the night – and you certainly don’t want to say goodbye, but you also want the suffering to be over for her.
We took the boys over to visit her this evening. By all reports she had been pretty much unresponsive for the last 24 hours or so. She didn’t say anything to anyone for the longest time while we were there. Kelly spoke to her, her brother spoke to her, I spoke to her, Noah spoke to her – and it didn’t even appear that she heard us, much less understood us. A couple of time she uttered things to Kelly, but with his ear as close to her lips as he could get, he couldn’t understand what she had said.
And then Ethan spoke to her. Everything he said, she responded. Clearly, loudly, and with complete lucidity. Only in response to him – her 3rd grandchild, 1st grandson. After a while we had to go. We hadn’t had dinner and it’s a school night. Kelly, Noah, and I said our good nights, and there was no response. Ethan said good night, and she said it right back. As we got to the door to her room, on the way out, he called out, in a normal volume, “Bye.” And she replied, clear as day, “Bye.” She’d heard him, from across the room. Honestly, even before this critical illness took over, her hearing wasn’t always the best, so that was odd.
But as we walked away, it all made sense. “I prayed she would understand us,” Ethan said as we walked down the hallway. “Well,” I smiled, holding back the tears, “I guess it worked.”
“Well, she understood me,” he said, and then he giggled – just a bit – as if he were in on a delightful inside joke only meant for God, Ethan, and his grandmother.