the scent of death

there is a scent     a moment upon entering the doors     of certain  acute care facilities        when  olfactory senses kick in     with the aroma of age    of adult diapers  the amonia-like scent of urine   stuck to the unwashed       like unholy waters       or over ripe   turning fruit                         the scent       of impending death    of rot      of decay      of sickness       of the forgotten      the destiny of the poor      of the incureable       the poor     the solo option     when private care        at home     is the one        unaffordable   option       prohibitive due to lack of funds   when a private hire nurse/caregiver    is  fiscally        out of the question….

it is the smell unique              to  these places where humans often      end up      they sit in hallways        strapped in wheelchairs      or left alone in unmade beds      they are joined with others    who have aged             those who have a terminal illness  and can no longer be cared for       by anyone who may have once  loved them    or even might still    love   them     or    not                    and they usually end up here    when funds are scarce        a last resort       for the last days               of life….

my mother died alone        in one such place     with exactly such smells    permeating every corner               she never knew the difference    never knew how her daughter   stood  day after day     at the outside doors          gasping for air       as panic       attacked            made  her heart pound     as she       and it         searched for strength for entry     and escape     from a near-exploding, panic-ridden chest….

my mother’s daughter     became the unknown         at the end         a stranger      not even a vague memory         penetrated the plaque     that had poured into        my mother’s brain cells              her daughter left    one such facility     on a cold night in 1995      walking silently   behind her mother     behind the sounds        of the coroner’s guerney wheels          rolling down a rainy pavement         and my mother’s daughter         finally breathed a sigh of relief          knowing    that  by choice         she would never have to    cross          this sort of threshold  of hopelessness        again…     knowing this   she took in air, kept her breath     and waited for the tears       that  waited        and came         too many years         later….

this week    my mother’s  daughter will stand       at similar automatic doors again        praying for air        hoping for strength        on a journey      to say goodbye   to         someone      she calls friend       the scents will be there, i’m sure     and she will marvel       and wonder       why these types of families        such as his           with these sorts of resources      such as theirs       would damn one sharing their bloodline         to this sort of place      no matter what his lifetime of sins may have been        no matter what         banishment        and familial scorn       he may have incurred           no matter what the promised punishment…  she will question   in silence     why they have chosen instead         not to pay the easy price        for a private, comfortable    hospice death       for him       brother        in a comfortable     semblence       of   someone’s       home……

there should be a warm fire burning        in a house filled with     beauty   so his blind eyes can remember …       there should be scents of pine,  gardenia, the sea…….warm soup should be slowly cooking on a kitchen stove…     he should be listening    as he drifts in and out       to the sounds of the birds he once loved singing for him outside  his window   he should be comforted   when the unknown    of what’s next      becomes a true fear…….calm should fill his remaining senses     smells of home     of comfort    should hold him        dearly  ……soft pillows      clean warm sheets should       caress  his  now-frail frame     his favorite classical   music     or shinto        should tinkle as background  serenade      rocking him in and out of sleep…..his pain should be  controlled        minimal   or non-existent       by     his former  abused drugs of choice    opiates  given plentifully   by a caring nurse    should be  finally used    for what they were intended for       all along                and he should know         that in spite of his life        and his choices      that he is loved here      by family   at endgame…

the automatic doors will be the same      the scents will prevail     and i will still pray      for the important strength     to cross the same sort of threshold    and i will beg      for my own    swift uncomplicated            death         when my time arrives  ….       no         not here           no      spare me from these smells   spare me the terror of dying alone    spare me       this ending      spare me an ending          without birdsong   outside my window     assist me in ending me   with my own hand     if need be         before you leave me      here     buried  alive and alone   in these  such     lonely and confusing   scents       of death

maybe i will be able           to take the hand   of my friend   whisper comfort  to him  tell him of the sights and the sounds      and the memories         and pray  silently        that his own swift     endgame     comes quickly       before these scents    and smells of death    become     all that he can remember         of  his




About lindalou5150

as exercise or exorcism, i write...for the eyes of others, for my eyes and heart only, for the love and the rage, i release the gamut of tell the truth and say what's often thought but not written...
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1 Response to the scent of death

  1. MandT says:

    Dear Friend…Where ever they are, the angels in heaven will write your name:

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