A lingering death is not pretty. My wife and I wished so much on Tuesday evening that euthanasia was allowed. If an animal of mine were in such a condition of wasting, surely I would have it put down. And yet, so much suffering happens every day among humans who simply linger on with a terminal illness. This isn't a political statement but one that I consider reflective of love and caring.
As the Higher Power would have it, our fervent wishes to ease Mom's sick and suffering were granted. Perhaps she knew that we were all there, telling her we loved her, assuring her that it was okay to rest now. And so that's what happened.
Her body was still warm. We put her sweater on her, covering up her nightgown that had the Sun, Moon and Stars on it. And her cat, who had been sleeping on the adjacent bed, came to sit on her abdomen, no doubt sensing death had come.
I talked to my first sponsor last night. He is on the other coast, but I was so grateful that he called. Only a few people have called. We have received a few emails. And the blogger community has been kind and caring with comments.
In the days when I was a child, it was de rigueur to visit the home of the bereaved and drop off something like a casserole, pie, or a flower. I told my sponsor through tears that I didn't want casseroles or cakes or any kind of food, but I longed for the human touch. I wanted that for my wife. I wanted her fellowship to surround her. Just to have a friendly face show up and sit for a while would have been wonderful. No one has come. Not a single AA or Al-Anon has asked to come by. I don't understand this as we have entertained so many at this house. Perhaps this is just the new order of things in which people are busy with their lives and their own problems. I am working at letting this go, but it is gnawing at me because isolation leads to more sadness.
So this afternoon, I am leaving to visit Pop. He is being visited by the priest today. He took the news with sadness yesterday but seemed to be accepting. I know that it won't be long for him though. Hospice called this morning to say that he is declining, and so morphine and Ativan are being prescribed. I hope that he will still want to go out for a milk shake, but reality is that his body is also worn out.
We are both grateful for your thoughts and kindness. All will be okay. Our lives will get back to some kind of rhythm again. Death is a part of the rhythm. Here is a poem that an Al-Anon friend sent:
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure:
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And thought this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself,
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.
~ John O’ Donohue