Our mother died during the first week of our visit. As the days passed the pile of unpaid bills grew and we arranged to discuss things with the doctor. All I remember is a small, neutral room where we sat to hear the news that there was nothing more that they could do and where we had to agree to switch off the life support machine. They would make sure she was in no pain.They couldn’t tell us how long it would take her to die. It was impossible to take in the enormity of that decision. My brother requested that she be moved to a room with a window so that she could look at the Bay. The hospital staff couldn’t have been kinder. The Catholic Chaplain, who comforted and advised us, was a deeply humane woman and I shall always remember her.
But what I also cannot forget is the stark horror of hearing the doctor telling mum what was happening to her. They insisted on this. Throughout her life mum had avoided admitting reality and now a doctor was standing over her and in a very loud voice saying: “Cecilia, can you hear me? You have a terminal bladder cancer and there is nothing we can do. Do you understand?”
In my memory she closed her eyes and refused to listen.
In the corridor I leaned my forehead against the wall and wept.
The next day she was moved to the bed which looked out over the Bay but by then, full of morphine, I doubt she saw it.