She's going crazy, waiting for him to pass.

The high points of the day are when the nurse comes in the morning and in the evening. In between she tries to get him to eat, to drink, to take his medicine. She can't leave him for long, because he gets upset, wonders where she is.

So she turns on the TV for company. Just whatever happens to be on. I am shocked at the garbage that is being sent over the airwaves. No wonder people have a false sense of reality if this is their reality, their friends. "Real courtroom" soap operas; "Let us renovate your room"; "Tell your darkest secrets on camera". I was happy when we could watch sports, except the German sportscasters seem to have sawdust for brains and mix up the nationalities of the players, mispronounce their names, misname them, say completely wrong things.

I took her to visit a relative while my husband kept his father company. It is amazing how similar the living rooms are furnished. Big TV; 1-2-3 sofa elements; coffee table; multiple, non-matching carpets; a Schrankwand, a German monstrosity to be found in most living rooms with doors and drawers for hiding stuff and glass vitrines for displaying never-to-be-used knick-knacks. The relative has 6 books on display (a cookbook, a crossword puzzle dictionary, the Bible, and three children's books), my in-laws have an entire bookcase.

We drink coffee, gossip. At least things happen to others that can be talked about (pregnant again, X not speaking to Y, got thrown out of school, going to college, out of work, in the hospital - having a big family does have its advantages).

She looks at her watch, is startled and insists on leaving right away. Must get back - to what? To the mindless waiting, wondering how life will go on after he is gone.

He doesn't want company, doesn't want people to see him in this state. A former student who died of cancer celebrated her waiting by inviting one person a day to come and say goodbye to her. I was very priviledged to be on her list. The hardest part was leaving - what do you say? "Auf Wiedersehen" means "until we meet again", which won't happen in this life. "See you" is kind of crude, as we won't be together again until the funeral.

My student let me say a benediction - somehow the church rituals are really useful in times like these. I gave my father-in-law a hug and admonished him to keep drinking. My mother-in-law burst into tears at all of the things left unsaid.

For him, a silent benediction: "May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)

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