|May, 2019, when we were in Charleston celebrating our 50th anniversary|
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]