|The Aztec type lines in this shell are amazing, found on a beach in Australia, five years ago.|
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Had we been anywhere else in the world in a COVID-19 free world, I have no doubt I would have flown back to the US for a few weeks to say goodbye to my dear sister Susan in person.
|This shell had a rough exterior.|
When I last saw her in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December 2019 and we hugged goodbye on the last of my many visits, we both cried when she said, “This will be the last time we see each other.”
I shook my head insisting, “No, no, no! We’ll see each other again! We’ll be back to visit again before you know it.” In the back of my mind, I knew I could be so wrong.
|This shell appeared to have an eye looking at us.|
And now, as her time nears, I almost wish I would have accepted that reality at that time, when now, during these impossible circumstances, I know I’ll never see her again. Thankfully, we’ve both already expressed our love for one another, even going as far as expressing all the reasons we’ve loved each other throughout our lives.
Like most siblings, during childhood, we had occasional ups and downs, but as adults, we became all the closer, relying on one another as the years passed.
|This shell was an exciting find.|
She lived a tumultuous life consisting of notable success while receiving considerable respect for her astounding business acumen. And then, over the past 15 years or so, her health tumbled out of control with chronic conditions, leaving her a near invalid, lying in bed 24 hours a day, with countless conditions, ingesting multitudes of prescribed medications with little to no hope of returning to a productive, meaningful way of life.
There’s never been a time we didn’t stay in close touch. Since we began our travels in 2012, I called her at least once a week, if not more, and we engaged in thought-provoking conversations often interspersed with outrageous laughter leaving us in tears.
|This shell stood alone for its unique texture and color.|
The past months, as her health and memory deteriorated, our conversations became short, when she has had little strength to engage in lively banter. All I could do was tell her I love her and let her know I was thinking about her each and every day.
As the dementia worsened, I will often remind her we are in lockdown in India so she will understand why I am not at her side. She seems to grasp this concept and sounds content to hear my voice.
|An intriguing three shells.|
This past week, my sister Julie and Susan’s daughter Kely, both living in California, were tested for COVID-19 and drove to Las Vegas, staying in a nearby hotel, well-gloved and masked, and visited her each day. The nursing/hospice facility where she is living only has 10 patients and they haven’t had a single case of the virus.
Under these special circumstances with proof of their health, Julie and Kely were allowed to visit Susan all day over an eight-day period, taking care in creating a familiar environment to provide Susan with some comfort.
|The variance in color makes the shells particularly interesting to find.|
They visited her storage facility finding pictures, wall hangings, and treasured items. They proceeded to fill the walls of her private room with a lifetime of memorabilia, all of which made the sterile, single space feel more like a home than a hospital room.
They helped her in preparing the necessary “end of life” documents, including medical directives, posted on the wall, to ensure the staff would know exactly what to do “when the time comes.”
|This was one of the larger shells we discovered.|
My phone number is posted in large letters on the wall, stating that I am her “middle of the night contact” should she awaken and need to talk or feel frightened. She seemed aware of this when I spoke to her this morning. With the time difference here, her middle of the night would be our middle of the day.
Knowing she can call during the night when she’s scared or wants to hear a familiar voice gives her great comfort. During the daylight hours (while we’re sleeping), she can call Julie and Kely. We’ve got it covered around the clock.
|These three were definitely similar. The next day, we returned all the shells to the beach where we found them.|
This isn’t easy for any of us with loved ones in poor health, with COVID-19, in nursing homes, those requiring surgery and tests in hospitals or even, dealing with the ravages of the virus in lockdown in their own homes.
The issues of senior/disability care have become all the more pronounced during these challenging times. And yet, our emotions and our love remain firmly in place to ease our loved ones through these sorrowful phases of life.
May you and your loved ones find peace, comfort, and love together now and always.
Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2019:
|“Do you have any carrots?” asks this Connemara Pony in Ireland, one year ago today. For more photos, please click here.|