While the Deep Water Horizon platform exploded and began to spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico, my loved one lay in the ICU suffering from post heart surgery from which she never recovered. She died on April 27 at 3:43 pm. I know because I was there with her, my other sister and her daughter. We were the ones who would escort my older sister to places beyond our reach. We navigated terrifying medical procedures, tubes, drains, trachs and vents, dialysis machines, and watched my sister’s body swell beyond belief, turn red and raw; we gently kissed the scabs and bruises on her arms and hands that crusted over or oozed with edema. On her last day of life the sheets were soaked from her body fluid oozing out of every pore. The machines peeped and winked; the vent breathed in and out from a taped area around my sweet sister’s neck. I wondered, Does it hurt, Bev? But she could not answer me, rendered speechless for a month, with only mouthing which we could not lipread and which toward the end was not even possible. I kept a piece of computer paper on which my brilliant, accomplished sister struggled to write a message but it is only scribbles that run eventually off the paper…
It has been one week now and she has been cremated and her remains await her family to scatter in her favorite places. We gave her a wonderful memorial at which her friends assembled and many from my family including my son and daughter. While together we held each up somewhat, when we separated I felt the vast pain and sadness that washed up against my chest like a sea pushing against pilings.
Meantime the oil continued to billow into the ocean waters of the Gulf which my sister loved, and it crept toward the crystal white beaches on which we sat watching a green translucent sea lap against the snow-white sand. Langdon Beach with brioche and coffee…our habit….
The Gulf is lying as she did, helpless to an approaching disaster, with concerned people all around whose efforts cannot prevent something set in motion that cannot be undone. I walk the shores weeping for Bev as I weep for dolphins and schools of silver pompano and the microbial hordes whose haven, the waves, will soon be something like a wrath – innocent to the machinations of a misdirected culture.
Was the medical treatment of my sister also misdirected? Invasive, entirely without humanity, all numbers and organs and technology in the name of life.
Why can’t I help thinking my sister died an early death as the beaches on the Gulf will, too, from events so complex and indirectly applied as to cloud our perception?
Now I know what it is to feel totally helpless.