A story of persistence in the face of death

As Hannah’s granddaughter clutched at her skeletal fingers, the blanket fell to the side revealing the faded serial numbers on her forearm. The family gathered, yet again, to say goodbye. This time her acrid breath had lost humidity, her respirations dry and raspy, the extremities mottled with a bluish tinge.

Death had visited the neighborhood before. Lounged in the parlor. Nibbled on crackers and tea. But letting go was not so easy. Sure the signs were there. There were the bouts of unconsciousness lasting days. The hours of irregular breathing with long gaps. The clutching of chest and recitation of prayer. All of this followed by merciless, unrelenting recovery.

Hannah wanted to die. At least that is what she told the doctors. She sang it in her sleep and whispered to the hallucinations that pranced on her pillow. She refused medications. She spurned nourishment. She pulled at the tube thoughtlessly plunged into her abdomen a few hospitalizations prior. She hissed at the rabbi as he entered her room.

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