Words become harsher the more precise they get.
A stomach pain becomes an infection that turns into inflamed lymph nodes. Inflamed becomes growths becomes masses becomes tumours becomes cancer.
Cancer that wasn't there three months ago. Cancer that has spread from my grandmothers lungs (where tumours surround her lung) to her abdomen (where a tumour presses on her stomach) to her spine.
The doctors are still doing tests - they know that the cancer hasn't spread to her bones and they swear that there's none in her brain but none of the news that comes is good. She's weak, she can't (or maybe won't) eat and so she's malnourished and dehydrated in spite of the fluids she's receiving through the IV. Her pain is high and stays there in spite of the different drugs they've been trying.
She's confused and forgetful - more than she was a week ago when she went into the hospital. We're not sure if it's the lack of nutrients (she 'eats' a single Ensure a day and refuses to eat more - her doctor has told her that if she won't try to eat more he will put a tube in her stomach - sometimes threats are the only way to work with my grandmother) or the pain killers (we have doubts as do the doctors - she was unable to spell her own name this afternoon and she hadn't had any strong pain killers today) or something else that we just don't know yet.
My cousin doesn't think she'll last a week.
The doctors keep talking about sending her to 'rehab' which I think is code for 'hospice' but no one is admitting it yet since her cancer hasn't been fine-tooth diagnosed. They think it's lung cancer, which only makes sense. My grandmother has smoked for sixty odd years. I'd be surprised if it was anything other than lung cancer.
I don't believe that she will ever go home again.
She wants to finish the crib quilt that she started for Baby Bakin' but we all know that right now she couldn't do it. She can't stand up without help.
She's cold all the time, in spite of running the heater in the room and the mountain of blankets piled on her.
I don't suppose that it will surprise anyone when I say that we're praying. I don't know what my parents are praying for but I'm not looking for a miracle. I don't believe that one is needed. This isn't a life being cut short, this is a life well lived coming to its natural end.
I pray for ease and peace for my grandmother and strength for my family, especially my mother on whom so many decisions rest.