Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The Eve before my Beloved's Death 16 years ago.
This night is crystal clear in my memory. I was 50 at the time with 2 teenage boys.I am so totally sad tonight as I relive the memories. I had a hospital bed brought into our living room a day earlier as he became too weak to climb the stairs to our bedroom.
The night before was the last time that we would spend in the bed we had shard for 20 years. We were both aware of what was on the horizon and there were no words of comfort left to say to each other. We lay cuddled in each others arms with tears running down our cheeks. How painful and how does one integrate that into the mind and emotional being, especially in terms of our profound relationship?
I had slept in the Hospital bed the night before as he insisted on lying on the couch but would have to get up and change him since had he had become incontent. He suffered from Stomach Cancer. He wanted to die on the couch. This night however. I said NO, you have to get into bed so I can change you without wrecking my back. I wanted to accommodate his wishes but knew my back couldn't deal with it any longer. I had been doing that in our bed for days before we had to move downstairs. He agreed reluctantly and I lay on the couch catnapping. I knew the end was near (he was as orange as pumpkin due to liver failure) and I was always listenting to his breathing. At one point he looked at me and said "Tutte, you have to get some sleep, it's been days now." I asked him how he was feeling, was he in any pain and his reply was, No, I just feel strange. I went to sleep for a couple of hours.
I had a restless sleep always with one ear on Arch's breating. By 7 AM I detected a change taking place so called my GP and he arrived within 20 minutes looking like he just got out of the shower. How many MD's do that today? In the meantime Arch had woken up so I cleaned him, brushed his teeth, washed his face and what else was necessary. He told me he was no in any pain. Then Charles my, arrived and took a look at Arch and checked him for various symptoms. He eventually made the decision to give Arch a shot of Gravol and some morphine. The first morphine Arch had received. Truly amazing that he hadn't needed any major pain killers. Before Arch fell asleep he made a couple of jokes. So typical.
It didn't take 10 minutes before he was sound asleep and Charles left. Before he did, he left me with 4 syringes filled with Morphine. He didn't leave any instructions with me but I have since thought that he might have done that so that I could apply and overdoze if I felt it necessary. Empathic doctors will do that. I didn't use them but would have if I felt Arch was in pain and I could have relieved any suffering.
Arch's youngest son had come out a few days earlier and took my boys to school and eventually headed off to the airport to pick up his sisters.
A couple of hours later after napping on and off the nurse arrived and we checked on Arch and he seemed to be sleeping peacefully. I offered her a cup of tea and we went into the kitchen. The phone rang that was next to Arch's bed and it was his good pal meeting my step-kids at the airport. As I was talking to him, I looked down at Arch and realized he WAS GONE. I was left in shock and speechless.
To conclude what was the most traumatic day of my life, I was grateful to have the nurse close to me.
I kept going in and checking on Arch and his eyes were at half mast to try to make sense of it. The nurse phoned my GP who returned immediately to pronounce Arch DEAD! Is there a word that has more impact than that? Of course I knew he was. The GP and I went and had a cup of tea together in the kitchen and had a good chat. He is such a wonderful friend and MD. While we were doing that Arch's children all arrived from the Airport and rather than them walking into the house and unexpectedly finding their Dad deceased, I met them in the driveway to prepare them. Needless to say they were all in shock. Not only by the news but by the fact that they didn't get to have the opportunity say their goodbyes. It was a situation that is very difficult to express. My GP left after having met all the kids.
We all entered the house and approached Arch's bed so the news could become a reality for them. There was a very long moment of silence and each person left as needed and we eventually met up in the kitchen. Then each person returned to say their final goodbye in private. When everyone had done that, I returned to clean Arch's body and his youngest daughter joined me. It was a very holy moment for both of us. It was our way of passing on our greatest gift by anointing his body.
After that I had to phone the funeral home. They arrived within 40 minutes and what happened next, is imbedded in my brain and I will never forget. Arch's body was still warm because he had been under the duvet and in walk two men with a gurney and a plastic bag. I had to leave the room when they put him in the bag and zipped it up and carried it out to the van. We all stood in the doorway and watched and I began hyperventilating. All I could say was "Here today, Gone Tomorrow". I don't remember anything after that until hours later. I don't know how anyone can integrate the finality of that event. I won't allow myself to think of it very often, but it needed to be expressed here as a conclusion.
My own children didn't know at that point. I will finish at a later time. Can't write anymore now.
My youngest son Ryan just turned 15, phoned and I felt I had to prepare him so told him the news. There was a long period of silence and I don't remember what words were spoken afterwards since he was at a friends house and they were driving him home. Not sure whether I did the right thing in telling him ahead of time. I felt he would want to know versus being blindsided. My boys are very different and integrate in their own way.
My oldest son Shaun, 17 arrived home and as he came through the front door, I rushed towards him, put my arms around him and told him the devastating news. I don't think he said a word, just got on his bike and rode around for several hours. Don't remember what he said when he came home. So much of these hours are a blank.
They were the worst moments of my life apart from telling them their father was dying. This was the reality of that news coming to fruition and I don't think any of us could really accept, nor knew what to do with it mentally or emotionally. It was like being in some Twilight Zone. I don't remember much of what happened after that. We were all in a total state of shock.
If I write any more on this topic, it will become an epistle so will end it here.
~ Tutte ~