A year ago she was planning her June wedding and eagerly anticipating the arrival of her second grandchild.

A few months later she scheduled her surgery for the fall, allowing herself and her new husband time to store up additional funds to cover them while she was recuperating from what is now almost a routine out-patient procedure. The surgery exposed her cancer.

The initial treatment went well. She looks fabulous in her red wig. Her husband agrees he now has three wives instead of one: the beautiful blue-eyed blond he married, the crazy redhead, and the manic bald woman running around the house. They laugh. They smile.

The older grandchild likes her wig and would love to try it on. Knowing her, she may have let him but we have no photos of that. We take more pictures but there never seems to be enough. She is surrounded by them on windowsills, bulletin boards, and on end tables. They are in piles, in photo books, and posted online.

She is my younger sisters age. She is dying.

Outside her hospice room her husband has added bird feeders to the garden she can see through the large, almost bay-sized window. Yesterday there was a freshly-filled bird bath as well. The sound of bird song was constant but not cacophonous. Back at home there are deer and raccoon feeding side-by-side in their yard. Her husband brought several photos of what he tells us is a daily occurrence. She asks if he remembered to refill the deer food areas and he promises yes, he does.

We all smile and talk about things of the ‘now’ interspersed with queries as to her comfort and pain level. When the ‘call nurse’ button was accidentally pushed while adjusting her bedding, the nurse showed up in less than 30 seconds.

She angsts over not being in her red wig when the grandchildren arrive, but they do not notice anything amiss in this woman with the bright blue eyes. She is “BoBo” and they know and love her regardless of wig or make-up. They crawl carefully on her bed to plant gushy kisses and hugs. The older grandchild amuses her and himself with a new puzzle.

Her son angsts over how to explain BoBo’s illness to his young son, who adores his grandma. She plays with him and dances with him, feeds him his favorite foods, and adores him right back. A child psychologist is on staff and will be glad to help.

I knit a prayer shawl for her, tucked in a shawl pin and a card, and sent it to her home. I was thinking we would see her, but time was going by and we weren’t. I wanted her to have it so I mailed it. It probably arrived the day she was admitted to the hospital where she stayed for several days before being admitted into the hospice facility.

A call is in to the Dana Farber Institute to see if there is any possibility of clinical trials she could take part in. If so, she will be moved from the hospice facility to Dana Farber. I have seen people this ill recover before. I pray. Hard.

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