Mom got kicked out of hospice about four years ago. She wasn’t sick enough. She wasn’t likely to die in less than six months. Now she is. So now we have people who look deeply into our eyes and ask how we are, they assess Mom and tell us how she is, and they bring in new furniture. I can particularly appreciate the new furniture.
Mom has a new bed, a new wheelchair and a new side table. And if she needs medical attention, the nurse will come and take care of her. We don’t want her to go to the hospital, we don’t want to put tubes in her or needles. We don’t want her to live forever. We do want her to feel comfortable and cared for and serene. If serene is possible. It’s hard to say how she really feels, since she can’t talk to us. But we look at her in her new bed all tucked in with pillows and blankets and the love of all the people around her, and we think she looks serene.
This is how I hope my end of life looks. But with the current state of our healthcare system, this isn’t the most likely scenario. The penniless can have this care, and the rich can have this care, and people with less than six months to live can have this care. The rest of us can’t afford this care. We have to go to the hospital or a nursing home to get insurance, the insurance we’ve been paying into for decades, to put in tubes and needles and lay us down next to machines that beep and blink and remove any sense of serenity we might hope for.