I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant’s way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
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Sandy Gerling is an artist, writer, and former registered nurse whose work recently appeared in the anthology Variations on the Ordinary: A Women’s Reader (Plain Views Press). She lives in Birmingham, Michigan.
It was late November, and I was visiting my parents. Dad was asleep in a rented hospital bed in my sister’s old room; he was dying of lung cancer. Mom and I talked over coffee at the kitchen table.
She had lung cancer that had metastasized to her spine, liver, abdomen — everywhere except her brain. She was aware and alert and could feel it all. When I would come into the room, she’d ask me if I would help her die; she couldn’t go on this way. In those days, a patient would have to wait three hours between pain shots.