Monday, November 30, 2009

Crossing to the Other Side

Last night we had some hope that my husband’s 101-year-old Aunt Zelda had not had a stroke after all.  His cousin, who is a doctor living in Chicago, went to see her and reported perfect symmetry in her body, unlike what one would expect in a stroke victim.  But she remained unconscious. 

Today they removed the ventilator and she continued to breathe.  But the neurologist who saw her confirmed that she had indeed suffered a massive stroke.  He said she has a herniated brain, as a result of the stroke, usually a fatal condition.

She currently hovers between life and death, which may come in 2 hours or 4 days.

After recently reading about the Belgian man who had been in a coma for 23 years and had been able to hear everything going on around him for all that time, I wonder just what is going on in Zelda’s herniated brain, which was sharp as a tack as recently as 3 days ago. 

She’s always hated the medical profession.  So if she could speak, I’m sure she would have a few choice words for those caring for her.

But in many ways, it’s the best way for her to go.  She never wanted to be totally incapacitated or dependent on others.  This brief period of transition will not last long.

I so wish I could know what this in-betweenness is like.  I wonder if you actually spend time in both worlds as death gradually approaches.

The question of the day is what Zelda’s Hebrew name is.  She has no immediate family since she never married.  She managed to outlive anyone who might know.  I suppose the rabbi who conducts her funeral will simply give her a name to take away if that question remains unanswered. 


Blogger lacochran said...

If she had a rabbi she knew, he/she might know her Hebrew name. Just a thought. Sorry you all have to go through this.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

At one point she had been a fairly active member of a conservative synagogue in Chicago, but most people don't usually go throwing around their Hebrew names. My husband is planning to talk to that rabbi to see if he knows.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous lr said...

Barbara, I am so sorry to learn of Zelda's stroke and prognosis. At any age lingering is undesirable; and having been with you and D. at her 100th birthday, I'm deeply saddened for her and for all her family. I hope there is someone dear to Zelda with her to talk to her a bit, since the hearing is the last sense to go.
As for her Hebrew name, did she keep diaries perhaps? Even if you didn't find her Hebrew name, reading such a treasure would provide a new connection to her and her life.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

I'm hoping for peace for Aunt Zelda and your family.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

I hope that her time right now is peaceful.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Thinking of you as you keep vigil and hoping that Zelda is peaceful.

6:37 AM  
Blogger karen said...

Hi Barbara. Just catching up here - sad to hear about the amazing Zelda now being in this state of limbo. It's so hard for all involved. Joining your other visitors in wishing for peace for Zelda. With love from Africa x

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear B, I'm so sorry to hear the latest news. I hope Zelda is serene in her in-between place; and I second lr's hope that someone can be there with her, to read or speak to her. What a blessing that Zelda was able to receive so much contact from her family (you included) over the holiday; that's a very warm and loving current to sail out on.



12:23 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Today was the funeral of a friend of ours. I too wonder what we feel shortly before we leave our body. I had a funny experience with my Uncle AFTER he had died. I had this very clear dream that he suddenly stood beside me on a parking lot as I got out of the car. He said, I wanted to ask you if you had been to my funeral. And I told him all about it, what we had sung and what nice words everyone had said about him. Then he chuckled and said, "You know what? I wasn`t even there! But I still sometimes go home". When I told this to my aunt, she was not surprised. "Yes, I can smell his cigar sometimes", she said.
So ... Aunt Zelda, may you go in peace and have some fun!

2:03 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Aunt Zelda. I enjoyed your account of her energetic presence during your recent visit.

4:59 PM  
Blogger e said...

I'm also sorry to hear about Aunt Zelda. I hope her transition is indeed peaceful and that you can discover what her Hebrew name is.

1:04 AM  

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