I remember the last time I saw her alive. She was two months short of her fiftieth birthday but she looked small and ancient in her hospital bed. There was an incessant beeping sound and the room was cold.

She laid in her hospital bed with a large tube in her mouth. There was blood on the floor and on the bed. When I got closer, I noticed blood pouring from her nose and from her eyes.

A nurse rushed into the room seconds after I had arrived with hopes to shield me from this scene. The seconds in that room felt like an eternity. “Not much longer to go,” she said.

I walked out of her room and into a room where the rest of my family gathered. I received a hug from everyone. It was evident from the beginning that those who were once the decision makers of the family were no more. They were too old. They had their own health concerns. It was up to me to decide.

When her doctor pulled me aside and informed me of the prognosis, I could only manage a  blank stare at the hospital hallway wall. It was white. I remember thinking that the wall needed a picture. Maybe a picture of a garden or a river.

“There is no hope,” he said, “I think you need to make a decision.” I heard this as if it was being shouted from the mouth of a cave, a cave that was in danger of caving in all around me.

My family would hear none of it. I couldn’t face them again if I pulled the plug. That much I was certain of. She died a few hours later at the age of forty-nine.

Cirrhosis of the liver, they said.

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