|Posted by Cathy Douglas on December 7, 2010 at 3:40 PM|
Dan died a little after midnight. His last sensible words were, "Keep loving me."
Here's how the last four days went:
Friday was a great day. I even got down to work for an hour or so, and to the grocery store. Dan even drove somewhere, to see about getting a tune-up for the car.
Saturday he was not making so much sense. The previous day having been busy, it was no surprise that he slept a lot.
Sunday he hardly slept at all and was not in his right mind. That was my last post. He must have been awake for eighteen hours that day. I think if he'd lasted very long like that, I would have needed some serious help. But it ended up just being that one day. That evening, in my room, I lit a white candle for life and a black candle for death.
Monday, he seemed about the same when I woke him up at 4 am to take his meds. He thought I was waking him up to go to work, and insisted on getting all his clothes on. I needed to dress him, of course; his coordination and strength were gone, along with his mind. Once he got it through his head that he didn't need to go anywhere, he was very, very tired and let me get him into bed. When I asked if there was anything else he needed, that's when he said, "Keep loving me." I told him that would be no problem.
I put a call in to Hospice, asking for Sheryl, our nurse, to come over that morning. We talked about how to treat him now, especially about getting him on a morphine pack so he wouldn't have to be woken up to take the pills. We had to wake him to take his noon pills, though, and when we did he was really, really out of it. He didn't really know how to take the pills, so I put them in his mouth, leaned his head back, and squirted some water into his mouth with a syringe. As soon as we were done, he went right back to sleep.
The next time I had to wake him was when the evening nurse came to install the pump. He had a lot of guck in his lungs and was sort of flailing. The only thing he communicated was that he wanted the two nurses to quiet down. This pair did talk really loudly, for some reason, as if he were deaf. I like dealing with Sheryl when I can, but because the equipment didn't come until evening, the ones we formerly called The Spanish Inquisition had to come over to install it.
Once the nurses left, I sat with him most of the rest of the night. He was talking a lot, but in jerky grunts so you couldn't understand him, and moving around in strange ways. He had his elbows bent and was moving them around as if they were wings. He pointed to one arm and was trying to tell me something about it, but it was impossible to understand his words. His eyes he kept fixed on the ceiling the whole time.
At 9:00 I sent each of the boys in to say good-bye to him. Then I came back in. I stood above him and spoke as clearly and directly as I could: "You are loved. You are forgiven. You are free."
At that point I felt really sleepy, and I don't know, just like he was working on something he didn't really need me for, so I went into my room and slept a little. When I woke up at 11:30, he was sleeping soundly, like a man who'd done a hard days work and was resting, snoring. I made some coffee and brought in a blanket and just sat, dozing a little now and then. I lit a blue candle for freedom and set it on his nightstand. As it burned, his breathing became more and more irregular, more and more ragged. An hour later, when the candle was done, I didn't hear him breathing. I set my blanket in the chair and got up to check on him. His face was cold and his arms, under the covers, were rigid. His eyes were still fixed on the ceiling, until I closed them.
I wanted to stay in the chair, so I fetched myself some water and a regular candle to see by. Then I just sat.
There was something going on in the corner of the room, just off the right foot of his bed. Some sounds, and I don't know, something.
I stayed in there. A couple times I thought I heard another breath, but it was just the morphine pump, so I turned the thing off. A voice in my head told me to go to bed around 3:30. So I went to my own room. I slept well until 5:00, knowing my husband had finally put pain and sickness and worry behind him.