Keeping Vigil

I finished teaching a week ago and my grading is all done. I expected to be in the Pacific Northwest by now, enjoying the long days of summer. But Jiro’s mom is clinging to life here and we are keeping her company and comfortable.
We take turns staying the night but Jiro ends up staying more often than I do. I am here most of the day since I don’t have any other obligations right now. I spend the days reading, practicing kanji, i-padding, and have even started prep for my classes next term. I wish there was wireless here so I could use my laptop more easily to get online materials. There is a ton of stuff that needs to be done at home- in particular weeding, but it can wait.
We are continually amazed at Ba-chan’s strength. She has had nothing but an IV for close to three months now and she is so frail and tiny. She has periods of alertness and responds with her eyes and nods of her head. There have been a few times when her blood pressure has fallen dangerously low, but her heart is strong and she has been able to stabilize each time.We are waiting with her, accompanying her on this side of her final journey.
So many times over the past few years she said she was tired of living and wanted to be with ji-chan…but clearly she isn’t quite ready. She always hated asking others for help, yet now she is completely dependent. All we can do is be with her. I have read hospice sites to find out what to expect during this time. She could be hours away or maybe weeks. It’s her journey and we are just witnesses.
We had her moved to a private room a little over a week ago, she gets a visitor or two a day, she sleeps more and more very day. Sometimes she is restless, but most of the time she is still. She says she has no pain, but the nurses sometimes suction her lungs which I know is very invasive and painful.
The trees outside her room are home to a zillion cicadas that are humming so loudly, reminding us that it is summer and it is hot. I am sure that sound will be forever linked to this time.



6 thoughts on “Keeping Vigil

  1. Nancy Bess August 13, 2012 / 5:34 pm

    I always look forward to reading your blog. But I am so sorry about Jiro’s mother. I remember being so frustrated that I could do nothing to help when my mother was dying. So glad you can both be there with her.

    Spoke with Tom Grotta Friday. He wondered why Jiro and I had not responded to the announcement for an exhibition this October for their 25th anniversary.
    I thought it was an invitation only thing, but he said no. So Jiro might want to write him.

    Be strong.

  2. Margeaux September 6, 2012 / 2:42 pm

    Kate, this blog has been a window and a time machine for me . . . wonderful and painful, both. I send you all love and strength, and hold you in my heart.

    • katezawa September 6, 2012 / 4:47 pm

      Nice to hear from you. I am in the US now getting our house ready to rent out here and see my family. Back to Japan in another week and a half.

      • Margeaux September 6, 2012 / 6:12 pm

        And Ba-chan has passed?

      • Margeaux September 8, 2012 / 1:42 am

        Yikes, I didn’t mean for that last post to be public. Anyway, whenever I’m in Japan, I never seem to make it to Kyushuu, so thank you for the lovely photos 🙂

  3. Bonnie December 26, 2012 / 8:41 pm

    Hi Kate, we have been thinking of you all this holiday. Take care in the new year.

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