Molly got another bad call from the parents. These days they never seemed to call her to tell her any good news. Her and her mother talked about how her Grandfather was dealing with his cancer. When Grandpa first got diagnosed she was only a sophomore in high school. She never expressed any of her feelings then or now to anyone, not even her mother. The doctor told the family he only had about 6 months to live.
They all hoped and prayed he would just make it to Christmas one more year. They waited for him over, and over every Christmas after Christmas, for six years. They watched him drag his bones in that hall first with a walker, then years later by wheel chair. That old man would never give up.
Every time Molly went back to her hometown, her mom and dad would make her go see her grandparents. Every time he was in the hospital she went to see him. She could never bare the sight of him in the hospital, or the smells. It always made her sad.
She remembered when she went with him for a check up and fainted. Her grandpa was asking how things were going, like usual. She became ill and cold. She knew this was going to be one of those spells. She used water as an excuse to get out of the room. Weak from emotions, she leaned against the wall for support. Her legs could not hold her up. Her body could not let her sit against the wall. She lay there with her head pressed on the carpet looking down the long hallway as her vision slowly closed on her. She only hoped a doctor would not walk by because she knew the feelings would end and she would be able to walk again. Her mind was intact but her body was not. She didn’t want to get all the doctors involved and people tending to her needs, attention would only make the matter worse for her and her family. She later told her mom she was sad and had a spell and her mom gave her some juice. She never found out what made her faint like that, maybe it was the fact that they were talking medical terms and the room was small and hot.
Grandpa would go through chemo. He would be put on outrageous drugs that made him, so thin, so pasty—so confused. She sat in the chair facing the foot of his bed and watched him watch TV, or just mumble nonsense because of all the morphine they had him on. Grandma would sit beside him and do a crossword puzzle or eat his hospital food because he couldn’t. Someone had to eat it she said. By this time Molly was the means of transportation for Grandma. Some relative would drive her grandma to the hospital, then another drive her home. Molly was her ride back to the house her grandparents lived in, a 45 minute drive from the hospital. Grandma’s freedom was taken away from her; she could not drive herself to see her husband. Molly sat in that dark room with nothing to say. She sat there and absorbed the sights in front of her. Molly, her grandma, and her grandpa were in the hospital room alone. They said nothing just continued to exist.
Four years had passed and Molly is home again to visit family. Her mother asked her late at night to go to the store and get some children’s cough medicine and drive it to her grandpa. He could only have children’s cough medicine because any stronger medication would cause him to be immobile due to the chemo. Molly drove a half hour into town to get the syrup. Then drove another 45 minutes to the woods where her grandparents lived. When Molly arrived she sat and talked to her grandma for a few moments. Then she went into the bedroom where her grandfather was resting. She looked at her grandpa; he asked how she was doing. He asked how school was, and most importantly how her new car was running. She told him she was really excited about the car. She added the fact that the head gasket was ruined and the car was in the shop. She reassured him that she would take great care of it after it was fixed. He tells her to not go over 5000 rpm. He knows she had her license suspended from speeding. She took his advice to the center of her heart and promised never EVER to drive over 5000 rpm. She gave him a kiss on the cheek, and rested her right hand on his left shoulder. As the tension grew she was scared to hug him. The main spot of the cancer was in his right shoulder. She tried not to look at the tumor sticking two inches off his head. To Molly it looked like the duck form the children cartoon show she watched as a kid on Saturday morning. Where duck had just gotten hit in the head and formed a gargantuan bump. She exits the room with tears starting to form in her eyes. She turned her head so her grandma would not see and gave her a quick hug. She did not want her grandma to know she was so weak when it came to her grandfather’s sickness. She knew this had to be harder for grandma then herself. She sat in the car for five minuets trying to put her thoughts back together before the journey home. She knew it would be hard to drive home with those sad emotions, but she some how managed to do just that.
So back to the phone call she got from her mother. The bad news flowed out of the earpiece like rain. Then the storm, Grandpa is not doing so well. Her mother told her this every once and a while and Molly had always brushed it off. However this time she couldn’t, it was because of the tone in her mother’s voice. They both were on the same page and each knew it was time to let him go. His best friend passed a few years ago. All grandpa had left in the world was to watch his offspring grow old, watch them benefit from the joys of life, and all this from a hospital bed. They knew they couldn’t keep him forever. They knew he was living far beyond what anyone could imagine, he beat the odds what more could he do? Even his doctor was amazed at his condition. Molly’s mother told her he had the choice: either go on chemo and live about three more years, or he could live with out radiation for another six months. Grandpa said the chemo made him sick. So he could live for three years, possibly see Molly get married but always be sick. He would always be upset and constantly going to see the doctor. Grandpa knew he will never get better—only worse. This news was well on its way, Molly dread knowing it was only a matter of time.
Weeks later she went to visit him. She drove 140 miles north from college. She arrived at his house in the woods at two in the morning. To her surprise everyone was awake. They were standing in the light of only one lamp with their pajamas on. Her parents were on watch that night just incase it happened. Also, someone had to be awake every two hours to inject him with morphine. Everyday one of his kids would be there on watch helping out throughout the week or month depending on how long he would live. Her parents told her to stay in the bedroom for a while when she arrived. Liquid started to fill his lungs and breathing passages, someone had to suck it out with a special contraption so he could live through the night. He had pneumonia; these kinds of illnesses were minor to his condition. Her mother did not want Molly to see the act of getting the fluids out. Molly talked to her dad, trying not to think about what was going on in the other room. When everything was subdued they told her she could go and see him. She stood there with her grandma by her side. She noticed how short she was, about a head smaller then herself. She looked at her grandpa. Grandma told her he was awake for a bit, until they gave him more morphine to help him sleep. She said, he can hear and see us, but he can’t talk. Molly looked in his eyes; blue, so blue and pure, with so much to say. This was the first time she actually got to see his eyes; they were always covered with big tinted glasses. She noticed her eyes were the same blue as his, except his were concave so the bones of his eye sockets were noticeable. His face seemed to only be a skull except for skin, nose and his tumor. His legs rest under the thin blanket, the size a young teenage boy would have. He hardly used them in the past two years.
She held his warm hand and started to cry. She wanted to talk to him, she told him about her car, and she told him that she doesn’t drive over 5000rpm. She told him that she checked the oil before she left. She talked about school. She told him she loved him. She told him everything she thought he wanted to hear. Eventually they all sat down in the living room, steeps away from his bed. She couldn’t sleep because she knew her grandfather was about to die.
Grandpa loved the festive dolls, the mechanical dolls that dance and sing a song. He always got a kick out of them and enjoyed showing them to all the young children in his life. He loved to watch their reactions. Molly’s mom pressed the button to his most recent doll in his collection. One of the happiest things in the world made Molly cry uncontrollably. The salt from her tears started to burned her face. She gave her grandma a hug and went to bed. Before she fell asleep her mother told her that sometimes people won’t die until everyone around them tells them it is okay. Molly’s heart sunk into her feet, who in the world could tell their grandfather it was okay for him to die?
The next day she awoke to people in the living room. So many people were in the small house; she could hear her aunt and uncle from up north. It must be their day she thought. There was a voice she did not recognize. Molly learned that she was a friend of the family but also the nurse from Hospice. It was his bath time, and a sponge bath meant they had to move his body. Two people had to hold him up while one cleaned. Grandpa did not like it at all. He moaned and Molly could hear his voice in his moan through the wall. His voice that was nice, unique and so dignified. The last time she would ever hear his voice was not him telling her to drive safe, or him telling her a clever joke, but him moaning because they were trying to move him. He had no control over his body or his words. Molly couldn’t get out of bed, it was too hard and she didn’t want to face everyone. She could hear her aunt tell her dad that everyone in heaven is waiting for him; she told him we are set here that he doesn’t need to protect his family anymore. Molly started to cry alone in the bed. She cried for two hours and her diaphragm started to hurt. She felt she couldn’t get up unless someone got her. Her mom came in the room to see her shivering, scared body. She asked if she wanted to see him. Molly got dressed and walked up to him. He was asleep now, his eyes were closed. They started giving him double the amount of morphine they had given the day before.
She spent the day sitting in the corner with a box of tissues watching all the visitors with her puffy red eyes. The small blue book floated around the room, the book that helped everyone prepare for death. At lunch time she made some soup and grilled cheese. She looked out the window to see five of the most beautiful birds. Large turkeys outside resting, and periodically eating every little seed they could find. She told her grandma about the birds. Grandma slowly walked over to the window. She watched them for twenty minuets and the only thing she told Molly was that this was the first time this year she got to see the birds. Her attention stayed on the birds, but Molly knew she was in a much deeper state of mind. Molly watched her gaze out the window. If Molly could have comforted her grandma she would have told her a story about the souls of grandpa’s friends inside the birds that came to see him, instead she just watched in the place of her grandpa.
Before Molly got back in her car to dive south she gave grandpa a hug. She held his warm hand for the last time and touched his face. Trying not to let him know she was sad, she rested her head on his body. In that moment she thought of all the times she was with her grandpa, all the jokes, all the advice and all the camp fires. She thought of all the times he talked to her. She remembered every week she spent at their house as a kid. She remembered she had to tell him it was ok to die. Her body became flush and started to tremble. She became mute.