I’m up in New Hampshire. My grandmother, for the hour I saw her, flickered like a flame. She’d be herself, glowing and solicitous, but then a sentence later would falter and grope for a word, her face deflating a bit. She’s weak enough that I needed to spoon feed her the stew (looked institutional) and pieces of “herbed biscuit” (looked like it’d been made by someone who has hated biscuits all their life). She was asleep when I left.

Dinner for Uncle Ed, Aunt Karen, my mom and I was better: salmon both seared and poached, broccoli both cooked and burned, and hollandaise sauce to drown everything in. Heaven, with sesame-oat buns, besides. Then off to hear my grandfather sing in the Riverwoods chorus, some tea and cake (my Aunt Karen’s “managed to whip up a genoise from scratch in a kitchen the size of a peepshow booth and implements from the ’70s” cake with brown sugar penuche and pecans – the heaven continued) and slightly heated (warmed?) discussion about What Happens Next.

What struck me most of all was watching Marzi’s kids, my aunts and uncles and mom, struggle with not having one clear voice leading the conversation and one clear (or clearest) path through Marzi’s current medical state and into… What Comes Next. What’s the best care for her? Was the mistake that took her to the hospital preventable? How best to prevent it again? Will she recover enough to return to her own apartment, where I’m typing this?

It’s quiet now, here. The dishwasher has just finished running and my mom’s asleep with her earplugs in, after some intense conversation with me. How to explain to one’s mom the force of her personality and the waves she makes, unintentionally, in conversations? How can I be a part of the converations about Marzi’s care when I’m only a grandchild here? Am I, as my mom unhappily alluded to me, just taking everyone else’s side when I chimed in? Dunno. Tomorrow’s a lot of driving, and hopefully marked improvement from Marzi. Maybe she’ll know (or suspect) What’s Next. Lord knows we could use another opinion.