His heavy-duty oxygen concentrator lies sleeping in the hallway. One gets used to noisy machines, but once they're turned off, the quiet is unsettling.
David was admitted to the Palliative Care Floor at Mount Sinai Hospital yesterday. It was snowing. Very strange at this time of year, especially since we've had such a warm spring. Driving was a little freaky. They put him in the ambulance at the hospital, while I dashed to the parking lot, unlocked my car door, paid the exit fee and barrelled down the road, hoping to follow. A couple of blocks away I saw a yellow ambulance. Oh good - visibility was poor, so following a big yellow ambulance made my job easier - until it took a wrong turn.
Oops - my mistake - wrong ambulance. Good thing I knew where I was going and happened to end up at Mt. Sinai just as the Real Ambulance was arriving.
Things are much more relaxed. I can finally breathe a little bit, knowing he is receiving good care. The nurses are angels, the doctor - superb. Comfort is their goal and accommodation almost takes my breath away. I slept on a cot beside David's bed last night. Not too comfortable, but he slept like a baby all night. I wanted so badly to open a window, but they were sealed. Lights and noises kept me awake. I had not brought anything with me, so slept in one of David's T-shirts. Tonight I will sleep in my own bed, with the windows wide open. I hate being away from him, but really cannot sleep in the hospital.
I know this "letting go" process is a gradual one. I am learning to "let go" of his personal care. I need to let the nurses bathe him and look after him, particularly since I can't be there every day. The drive is about an hour. Twice as far as the active hospital. But I am wearing out. So I have to take a step back.
It feels like our paths are beginning to fork - he taking one and I the other. We can still see each other, still hold hands and kiss, still share coffee and meals, but I know it's time for him to move on.
I have come to realize that the human spirit is incredibly strong. I may have said it before (long ago when I first started blogging) that his body is crumbling, yet his spirit shines brightly and strongly through his eyes.
Most people would have left this Earth by now. But David's mind is still sharp. I bring him the mail and we open it together. He "instructs me" (as if I didn't know) on paying the bills and other household accounting. This keeps his mind active and busy and makes him feel as if he's still a part of Normal Life Out There. He wants to do some physio to gain back a little strength, so he can sit in a chair and hopefully stand up once again. I am humbled by the strength and fighting spirit he has.
As I drive home, I watch people doing everyday things: shopping, eating, walking. I speak to my children. "What can we do to help?" they ask. "Just tell me about your day. I need to know there is a Normal Life Out There somewhere".