No White Horse

I have been accused by others of always riding to the rescue, even when I’m not wanted or needed. “Get off your damn white horse” is usually how it goes.

I don’t know how to explain the compulsion to be There when someone I love is in trouble or in need. Even when I intellectually understand I cannot do anything, I want to be there. Just in case. . . . of what, I don’t know.

I have been fortunate. I have only lost a few of the people who I love in my life thus far. When my paternal grandfather was dying, I would visit him in the nursing home. Once he returned to his house, I would send him letters written with black sharpie in huge block letters, so he could read them despite his disintegrating eyesight. I felt like I was doing something at least. When my grandma, Tink, was dying, I rode in an ambulance with her when they transported her to a different hospital. I slept on the couch in her living room next to her hospital bed when she was home in hospice care. In both cases, I did much less than many others in the family, but I was there, at least for a little bit, I was there.

Now my grandfather, Louie, is dying. The decline has taken less than a year. The man who, in his 90s, mowed his own lawn and painted his own house, was finally stopped by colon cancer and now a series of strokes. I had always hoped he would just sit down in his chair one day and then not get up. I hoped he would be able to move on without losing his independence, but it was not to be. The hospital bed he never wanted is in the dining room. My aunt called to report that he has not been out of that bed since Friday. He is refusing to eat. He no longer knows where he is. He is letting go.

When my mother called tonight to tell me that they don’t expect him to last more than a few days, I wanted to run for my white horse. I want to ride through the night, over the mountains, over hundreds of miles to be There. Louie wouldn’t know me now. There is nothing I can do. If he could, Louie would say, “Stay home. Take care of your family, my girl.” So here I sit trying to accept that I cannot ride to the rescue. He is letting go and so must I.

No white horse can take me There.

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