blessings, coping, courage, death, faith, friends, grief, growing old, life, losing battles, perseverance

Mary Ann…

“Maybe things would get back to normal today.” That was her thought as she left Panera that morning, knowing that her computer and phone were both fully charged, a comforting thought in case her internet and electric were still down.  As she was leaving she bought a blueberry scone and a cup of decaf to drop off at her friend’s house.  She agonized over that cup of coffee. First of all, decaf? What was the point of decaf? Her little 85 year old friend was under hospice care and wasting away from cancer, but she would still choose to buy the low fat, healthy, version when she chose her groceries at Walmart. She even laughed at herself for doing that, and for buying the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, but it was what she was used to. But adding skim milk, always Mary Ann’s choice, made for such a crappy color cup of coffee that she couldn’t help herself, she snuck in a little half and half and hoped Mary Ann wouldn’t notice.

She called to let her know she was coming, hoping she hadn’t eaten already so she could enjoy the scone. There was no answer, but that wasn’t unusual. She spoke to the answering machine and said to not bother to call back, she’d be there in a moment.  She had a key to the house, mostly so Mary Ann didn’t have to get up to answer the door. But she was also hard of hearing, Mary Ann was, so her fear was that she’d knock and Mary Ann wouldn’t hear her.  What could she do in that circumstance but call 911, and the cops might break her door down only to find her fast asleep?

They had met through church, she was to bring communion to a 90-something spinster school teacher who was hard of hearing and not chatty. She was a nervous wreck when she knocked on the door that first time. Mary Ann answered with a big smile, and for a second she thought she saw a glow about her, and said to herself that the hand of God was on this woman already.  Everything she had been told about Mary Ann wasn’t correct, including her age. She taught school in Philadelphia, but as a nun, for 25 years. Odd that the people from church didn’t know that.  Mary Ann said she didn’t tell that to many people. She had left the convent after 25 years to take care of her father who ‘couldn’t manage’ after her mother died. He was old school Italian she said.  Mary Ann said that she was an adult orphan. An only child who had never married, and so had no relatives at all.  When she was diagnosed with breast cancer 9 years before she was given 2 years to live, and now, finally, she had stopped all chemo and gone into hospice care at home.  Against all odds they became friends.

She arrived with the coffee and scone, and knocked, and let herself in. Adjusting her eyes to the light she could see that Mary Ann wasn’t in bed. Probably in the bathroom, she thought, and carried the coffee and scone to the table. And that’s where she found her, lying on the floor on her stomach with her head on her arms. She looked peaceful.  She called 911 and they asked if she was breathing. She touched Mary Ann’s back to see if she felt movement, but she was cold. It seemed to take the paramedics a long time to get there, a very long time, though it probably wasn’t.  She filled the policemen in the best she could with what she knew about Mary Ann’s wishes, it was all to be handled by a lawyer.  They asked her if she was okay to drive, there was nothing more for her to do. Stunned by all that had happened, but not surprised really, she said yes, she was okay, and drove home.

In just a very little while the electricity came back on, and the house hummed back to life.  She wondered if Mary Ann had anything to do with that…