The Woman Beneath

June 02,2009
Talia's Blog
Talia Rivera( )

Talia Rivera is a 33-year-old mother of two. As Executive Director of Villages without Walls, she works with high-risk gang members in Boston. [Read more]

The nurse pulled back the curtains. I approached the hospital bed that held a mere form of my grandmother. Her shoulders were exposed. A white blanket cloaked the rest of her body. She looked like a skeleton. The nurse said, "She won’t eat or drink." It was difficult to look into the eyes of this frail failing woman. It was if we had never met. For as long as I have known my grandmother she has been like the Eiffel Tower, tall and made of tons of iron. "Nana," I said. She slightly opened her eyes. "Please drink some water." The doctor came into the room and asked if my grandmother had a health care proxy. "Yes," my aunt replied. My body temperature rose. I began feeling light-headed. I sat down. "If her kidney fails, would she want dialysis?" the doctor asked. "Ma," my aunt asked my grandmother, "If something happens do you want dialysis?" My grandmother was never at a loss for words; she gave precision to profanity. Starry-eyed, she shook her head, "No." "Yes," my aunt told the doctor. The doctor looked confused. We were all confused. Who knew beneath all her strength was this weak woman?