Friday, July 24, 2020

Another Update

 Thought for the day:  Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts. [Alan Cohen]

May, 2019, when we were in Charleston celebrating our 50th anniversary
First off, let me express my sincere appreciation for all of you guys and your continued thoughts and prayers. Your kind words have meant the world to me, and they've never failed to put a smile on my face. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

What can I say? The end is near. As much as I hate to say it, or to even think it, I know it to be true. I can't bear the thought of losing him, but I also know he wouldn't want to live like this, either. No one would. It's beyond horrifying what cancer does to the human body. I lie on the bed beside him and hold his hand. Stroke his arm. But I don't know if he even knows I'm there. I like to think he does, but I don't know, because it isn't really him any more. It's some bizarre bastardized shell of who he used to be.

The end will come as a blessing. For him. But God forgive me, not for me.

I know. It isn't about me. That's what I tell myself umpteen times a day when the tears start to fall. It's about him and about me taking care of him, but it's so hard to think of a world without him in it. It's hard to think of the things he'll never do again... all the things we'll no longer be able to do together. After knowing someone for more than sixty years, it's terrifying to envision the enormous vacuum he's going to leave behind.

Thank God for the hospice nurse. Mike didn't want any part of anyone else from hospice coming, and he didn't want any part of having a hospital bed, either, but he did agree to let the nurse come. Everyone keeps telling me to get the hospital bed, because it'd be easier for me. But that isn't the point, is it? He wants to die in his own bed. Without benefit of some stranger... i.e. a nurse's aide... taking care of him.  End of discussion, even if he can no longer speak for himself. That's what he told me, and my only choice is to honor his wishes.

Anyhow, the nurse... Kathy... has been coming twice a week to check Mike's vitals, and after a couple of weeks, she arranged her schedule so her visit with us is the last stop of her workday. That way, she can hang around and spend as much time here as she'd like. Really cool, huh? Yesterday, she was here for more than two hours. Talk about a blessing. We just talk (and talk and talk...) like normal people. And laugh. She feels more like a friend than someone who's here to do a job, and her visits are helping preserve my sanity. (Because no matter what anyone tells you, doing in-home hospice is HARD. The hardest thing I've ever done.) She says she spends more time with me because she likes me. Whether that's the case, or she simply sees me as someone desperately in need of company, I appreciate the living daylights out of her.

She agrees that the end is near. That means she'll be back today... and every day... for as long as I need her. Says I can call her any time, day or night.

I think there's gotta be a special place in Heaven for people like her, don't you?

So, bottom line, he's still hanging on, but just barely. As hard as it is, I'm grateful. We've had more years than most, and we sure had a helluva run.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. [Rabindranath Tagore]

Friday, June 19, 2020

A Quick Update

Hi-ya, guys. I just wanted to take a sec to update y'all on what's happening with us. First off, thank you so much for your continued support and caring messages. I appreciate them more than I can say. Bottom line, we're now doing hospice care in our home. This isn't the outcome we would've chosen, but we're blessed to have had so many years together. Sure, we would've liked to have had another 51 years of marriage... hey! we coulda made it into the Guinness book of world records... but no, alas, that's not to be. Things are kinda rough right now, but the hospice folks are a Godsend, and somehow, somehow, I'll make it through. I think. I dunno when.... or even if... I'll return to blogging. But if I can... I will.

Y'all take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, May 29, 2020

More Than a Number

Thought for the day:  Time is but a stream I go a-fishin' in.  I drink at it, but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  Its thin current slips away, but eternity remains. [Henry David Thoreau]

I didn't just want to go fishing in it; I wanted to stand in it. I wanted to feel the waters of time swirl around my feet, to be made poignantly aware once again of its dual nature of fleeting and eternal. I wanted to hear the haunting call of the seagulls, and breathe in the distinctive briny scent of the ocean. And five years ago...when Smarticus took this picture of me at Myrtle Beach... he and and our friends Kati and Cliff allowed me to do just that. Even though none of them share my passion for the ocean, they indulged me by granting me some time to stand in the surf and replenish my soul. I appreciated it more than I could say. Having them do that for me was humbling and made me feel cared for.

Recently, while struggling to keep my footing in a surf of swirling emotions, I momentarily felt as alone as I look in that photo. As a number of you already know, Smarticus... AKA Mike... my Number One and only... went into the hospital last week. Watching that ambulance take him away and knowing that because of coronavirus safety precautions, we can't see each other while he's there, was as painful as a kick in  in the solar plexus. With a steel-toed pointy boot. But thankfully, that devastating feeling of being totally alone has passed.

Our kids and friends circled the wagons, reminding me that I'm not alone at all... and that circle includes you guys. I'm humbled by your expressions of concern, and I appreciate your outreach more than I can say. Thank you.

We can... and do... talk on the phone multiple times a day.  He's been getting treatments to ease his pain and make him more comfortable, and he'll be transferred to an acute physical therapy place today, where the hope is to get him back on his feet again so he can come home. Believe me, if anybody can accomplish that, he can. Then we'll be ready to tackle whatever comes next. For more than 51 years, I've leaned on him, and now it's his turn. He can relax and lean on me now, and much to my surprise, I've discovered that I'm more than strong enough to hold us both up. We've got this, and we're still laughing together... even if it's only over the phone for now.

I'd planned to post the following video last Friday for Memorial Day, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. But ya know what? It isn't too late to post it. I'm one of those strange folks who still thinks of Memorial Day as falling on May 30, as opposed to the last Monday of the month, so as far as I'm concerned, this post is right on time.

Yesterday's newspaper said we've now surpassed 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus here in the U.S. It's hard to wrap our minds around such a big number, isn't it? Hard to imagine such a profound loss. It's as difficult to assimilate the number of global deaths from this virus as it is to grasp the huge numbers representing the men and women who've died during wartime. Stark heartless numbers tend to dehumanize the reality of each of those individual deaths. In 2013, British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss organized an amazing artistic endeavor called The Fallen that poignantly depicts the reality of the 9000 who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy:

To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, gratitude and peace. [engraved on the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial]

[Yes, that's my hubby in the header pic... taken when he was a grunt in Vietnam. He's writing me a letter...]

       Again, thank you all. Your caring truly lifted me up. And psssst... keep smiling. I am.

                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.