Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm not ready

Five weeks ago, the telephone rang just before 8:00 a.m.
I had just gotten out of the shower and was towel drying my hair.

"Hello, this is M.S. Hospital calling."
My heart sank. "Yes?" I managed to croak.

"Your husband is desaturating."
That meant his oxygen level in his blood was very low and if they were calling me, it was because they could not get it up to acceptable levels. Bad news.

"Is he conscious?" I asked.
"He's sleeping."

"I'll be right there."

My mind went into over-drive. He's in a coma and the nurse did not want to tell me. She did not answer my question, but just said he was sleeping. If his sats were that low, then of course they couldn't wake him up. And we all know there is no resuscitation in the palliative ward.

Is he alive? Will he still be there when I arrive?
"Please God." I prayed. "Not yet. Not yet."

Driving as fast as I could, my mind sending David signals.
"Don't go, yet, sweetie. We still have lots to say. Lots to do yet. I haven't given up hope of bringing you home!! Hang on. I'm coming."

I don't know how I managed to do it, but I missed the exit. How on earth could I do that? This car has been driving to the hospital for 3 weeks, doesn't it know the way all by itself?

And then a great wave of peace washed over me. If I missed the exit there is a reason. And there is nothing whatsoever I can do to stop or change whatever will be.

That peaceful feeling did not last long, as it took me an extra 20 minutes (on top of the usual hour) to get to the hospital. Frantically I parked the car. Slammed the door. Bolted up the stairs to the third floor. Passed the nursing station. Hmmm. Nobody there, that must be a good sign. Nobody to waylay me before I enter Hubby's room. Round the corner. Hubby's door is open. Hmmm. Another good sign. If it had been closed....

Tore open the curtain to see David lying in bed, looking a little groggy, but reading the newspaper! I ran over and gave him the biggest, most giganticist hug you can imagine.

He looked at me in surprise. "Am I dreaming? What are you doing here so early?"

Apparently his oxygen mask had fallen off sometime in the early morning hours. I don't know how long he was without oxygen, but when the day nurse came on duty, she saw David in bed, face a grey colour and his mask dangling over the edge of the bed. She put it back on and then got the oxymeter to measure the oxygen saturation in his blood. She told me at first she couldn't get a reading, so called for help. He was still breathing, so after a few minutes the oxygen reading was 50 (normal being from 90-100). The nurse told me it took an hour to get his sats back up to normal. They had to put extra oxygen on to do that.

What a scare for everybody.

His doctor sat on the bed and said "that was a close call, but it wasn't so bad, was it? There was no pain, no shortness of breath."

"But I'm not ready!" came Hubby's sharp retort.

David has had many close calls over the past few years. I sometimes think he is living on borrowed time (as the old saying goes). When I got home that night, I needed to write; as if drawn back into ancient times:


He is standing at the edge of a Cliff.
Looking down.
Scared. Fearful.
"I do not want to go there."
And he steps back.

"Wife," he says on coming home, "I stood at the Brink today."
"I know," she murmurs, pulling loaves of fresh bread out of the oven.

Time passes.
Another Day.
He finds himself standing at the edge of the very same Cliff.
Looking down, he sees fierce-looking animals.
"No, I'm not going there."

Years before, in a dream he saw himself walking to the end of the Earth.
To the Brink. Where there was nothing but air below.
"I can't go there. I don't have wings to fly."
Just then an angel floated by. His father.
"Not yet," he sang to him, "not yet."

And so he went back home.
"Wife," he says, "I stood at the Brink today. There was nothing below. Just Air."
"I know," she murmurs, ladling out soup for their supper.
Night time. They are sleeping under the Stars.
Wife looks up into the night. And cries softly.
One of those Stars will soon be Husband.
She knows in her heart.
He rarely leaves the House anymore.

Once again He stands at the top of the Cliff. Afraid to look down.
But he knows he must. He's been here before. His body is showing him the way.

Looking down, he sees before him a black pit.
"No, I'm not going there."
And he steps back.
To let somebody else go.
Looking around, he sees many Souls taking the Leap.
Some take the plunge with strength and dignity; others hesitantly with fear.
Nobody returns.

Now there are people with him as he makes his way to the Cliff.
His footsteps grow heavy.
Second Son says "it's just the natural order of things".
"Have a safe passage" whispers a relative.
"We'll make you comfortable when it's time to go," chants the medicine man.
"Are you alright?" concerned friends ask.

"I'm not ready." he tells them all.

And goes home to his wife.
Where he finds her preparing his favourite foods. She knows that one day he will not come home for supper.
But every day she cooks.
Every day she waits for him.
Every day she listens for his footsteps.
Every day they sit down to eat.
"How are you?" she asks.
"I"m tired."
'I love you." her eyes go soft as she looks into his.
"I love you too." his eyes speak from his heart.

She knows his time is near; that one day he will not come home to her.
She knows it will be a time when there is nobody about.
Nobody to watch. No one to interfere.

He will slip away quietly in the early hours.


amelia said...

Oh Wendy, how horribly frightening for both of you.
I don't really know what else to say except that I LOVE this poem and if it's OK with you, I'd like to copy it, just to look at it sometimes...

Mark said...

I am crying at the beauty of your love! You are amazing ... you are blessed.

mxtodis123 said...

What a beautiful, beautiful poem. It speaks of the great love that you share. You are such an amazingly strong woman. I'm proud to have met you. Blessings to you and David.

white_lilly said...

Your poem is frightening yet so loving, my heart goes out to you both. You are so amazing and a encouragement to everyone. Thank you for sharing with us all.

Beverly said...

Hugs to you, my dear.

Karin said...

So glad that your hubby was sitting and reading the paper! God bless and keep you both in His care! Scary moments!!

Cheryl said...

Dear Wendy,

I was thinking about you yesterday......and wondering. As I lay in bed this morning, I thought to myself I would email to find out how you were both doing.
I am so pleased that David was ok when you arrived at the hospital, I can only imagine your relief.

Although I am not posting on 'sanctuary' I hold you both in my heart and think of you often.

Your writings are beautiful, you have a deep understanding of life and death......I am humbled.

Take care my friend

Love and light

Maggie May said...

That is a terrible thing to happen but glad that David is still with you! My heart started racing when I read the account of the phone call and the frantic journey.
I had a similar call when my Mum was in hospital and they couldn't rouse her. She did manage to survive longer though. The hospital was quite close by.
It is wonderful when you get that profound sense of peace, isn't it.
I call it The Peace That Passes All Understanding. I believe it comes from God.
You are a talented poetess!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

KleinsteMotte said...

This is a profound post. You are reflecting the final moments yet to come bravely and openly, sharing the transformation with us. How courageous! you a re a talented writer. This piece is brilliant. Special!

Anonymous said...

This is hauntingly beautiful. Fresh.

And I cry, because it reminds me of my dad - Mom lost him to colon cancer. Only he was ready to go, but he tried to wait for me to come see him one last time. He just couldn't make it - he died while I was still 9 hours away from him. So I even identify with the terror of not getting there in time. But we go on.

The wife keeping the rhythm of normalcy when nothing is normal sounds so much like Mom. You have said things in this piece I haven't dared to express. I am overwhelmed by your courage.

Hilary said...

Hugs to you, Wendy. You and David are in my best thoughts. Such a lovely poem.

WordDoc said...

Wow, beautiful, so healing to express this wild ride in such timeless words.

Q said...

Dear Wendy,
You speak to my soul. Thank you for your un-ending love and for sharing these most intimate of times.
You are so very elegant....
so very gracious...
Sending hugs,

Rose said...

What a lovely and touching poem, Wendy! Thank you for sharing this with us; you should publish this--I know it would touch many people.

What a difficult time for you and David, knowing your time together is so short. Yet I know the two of you are finding every moment together so precious. I hope that the peace you felt on that scary night helps to sustain you through the coming days.

I think of you often, Wendy, and as always, am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.



Celia said...

Once again I am awed by your bravery and generosity, to share your heart and poetry with us. You two are remarkable people and I am keeping you in my prayers, especially that David can be home for a bit. Love to you both, Celia

Anonymous said...

Wendy....I cried when I read your post. To know that the time is near for someone that you love so much is heartbreaking. So many times reading about David has reminded me of my parents. Especially my mom who nursed my dad with such devotion.

But the way you express yourself in your move me to tears. May God give you the strength that you constantly need. You and David are always in my thoughts and in my prayers.



Joanna Jenkins said...

Stopping by from Hilary's POTW to send virtual hugs and support at this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

This is so tender and loving. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Grayquill said...

Hilary sent me your way. You are certainly in the thick of it - I am sorry. Thanks for sharing such a personal and touching writing. I would say something profound but I have nothing profound. I know the road you are on is a lonely road and placating words would be insulting. I will do my best to remember you this week.

Frank Baron said...

Please add my condolences to the list. It seems to me that your husband died well, and most likely, your love had much to do with that. I'm quite certain you two aren't done with each other just yet. :)

I honour your grief. Find solace where you can.

slommler said...

Oh Wendy! My heart breaks for you and I am so sorry for your loss! I just came from Hilary's POTW too. You will be in my prayers dearest one.
Hugging you

Bonnie said...

Came from Hilary's POTW. Your poem so captures the feelings of a member of a family on the verge of letting go ... I was deeply moved.

Hilary said...

YOu brought tears to my eyes. My own husband has health issues, has recently been hospitalized twice....everything you said resonated with me......I don't want to go there either.
I am so sorry for your loss....surely your strength will prevail.

CherylK said...

What a beautiful tribute to your beloved husband. Please accept my heartfelt condolences, Wendy.

Shammickite said...

I saw your sad news on Hilary's blog and I came straight here to tell you that I'm thinking of you and sending your my sincere condolences. No matter how much you anticipate and prepare, it's always a shock when it actually happens. Hugs to you, Wendy, you are in my thoughts.

Dianne said...

I know we don't know each other but I have always felt we are all in this together

I came over from Hilary's to offer a hug

Mental P Mama said...

I am here via Hilary. And I am bringing prayers and hopes of comfort for you and yours....

ellen abbott said...

What a moving post. I am so sorry for your loss.

Indrani said...

This is extremely sad, May you have the courage to face this irreparable loss. Prayers and Hugs!
You have expressed your feelings and experience so well in this post. It reminded me the loss of my mother. She was so young, 56. And how I had rushed to hospital...

Land of shimp said...

I am so very sorry that you lost your husband not long after this. I wish I had some magic words that would make it better, but they don't exist. Just please know how much your post touched many hearts, and that I have honest gratitude for having read it.

I am so sorry your time together on this Earth ended too soon. I am so glad you had each other.

Friko said...

Dear Wendy, I am so very sorry.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Dearest Wendy,

I write through a mist of tears and wipe the ones that fallen on my cheek. You have so lovingly painted a portrait of your husband and your love for him.

I have a dear friend who lost her husband about five weeks ago, and this piece reminded me so much of her own experience. He had suffered the consequences of Agent Orange since Vietnam, and she was not there when he "slipped away, quietly in the early hours." I am printing this to give her; she will find comfort in your prose.

I came here via Hilary. So sorry to have met you under these circumstances.

Daryl said...

We dont know one another but somehow I feel we are all connected .. over from Hilary's to say how very sorry I am for your loss ... but as someone very wise told me recently no one is ever truly lost, not as long as we remember. May he rest in peace and remain in your heart forever.

Nancy said...

This post is unforgettable. I am so very sorry for your loss. I will think on this post for days to come.

MaggieGem said...

Here from Hilary's ... so sorry to hear of your loss, prayers and thoughts are with you and yours!

gaelikaa said...

I'm here from Hilary's. My condolences in your great loss. There is no right time to lose someone special.


photowannabe said...

I'm here from Hilary's blog too.
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Your post and poem are so tender and full of love. Tears filled my eyes and I wish I could just give you a big hug.

charmine. said...

I came over from Hillary's,1st time there & 1st time here.I don't know you,but I know what it is to loose a loved grand dad & always think of them & miss them.They too were in hospital before they passed...still makes me sad.

I loved reading the poem you wrote,so touching!SO very sorry to hear of your husband,may god help you through this period.Take care and pray.hugs.charmine.

Deborah said...

What a beautiful way you have with words. They have wrapped tightly around my heart. All my love to you, my friend. Deb

Anonymous said...

What a touching post and especially the poem.

I am so sorry for your loss, but I am thankful for you that you and he had such a close relationship. I hope you have many wonderful memories to treasure, because as long as you, and others, do, he isn't totally gone.

kcinnova said...

Here via Hilary, with the tears in my eyes now sliding down my cheeks.
Your writing has touched my heart as I consider my father now in the hospital so very far away.

May the love you shared with your husband be a comfort to you now and always.

Beth Niquette said...

Your poetry touches something deep within my heart.

I thank you.