Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Healing Garden

I took this pic from Hubby's Room up on the third floor.

The ones below were taken just today, as I walked in the Healing Garden, a beautiful addition to this Hospital. I wish all hospitals had a garden as serene as this one.

It's been over a month since David's admission to Mount Sinai. He still hasn't made it outside yet. We have hopes to bring him out to the garden tomorrow, if all goes well. Just getting him into a wheelchair with 2 portable oxygen tanks is a major undertaking. But we did manage this today - only for 15 minutes in the hallways, but a good start.

I continue to feel like I'm in a twilight zone. David has his ups and downs (he had a major setback a week ago, which I will post about later).

I hate watching him die. I hate that his skin colour is so awful. I hate that he's so frail.

I wrote in a long-ago post "how can his body be deteriorating and yet his spirit shines so brightly through his eyes?" Well, now I know and I hate how the shining light in his eyes is fading.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Life is Strange...

"The lines between us are blurry," says Hubby from his hospital bed.
I know what he means and I find it strange that at the end of his life, we are becoming closer.
How can that be?
There is a part of me that is letting go. I know it is time.
Holding on to someone as tightly as I've been to David cannot last forever.
At some point, there needs to be an uncoupling. A fork in the road. A time when he goes on his way and I, mine.

The letting go process actually started in the fall of 2008. I learned to give up control. Coming home to find the power off and hubby peacefully sleeping while the alarm on his oxygen concentrator screamed unmercifully, was the beginning of this important lesson. Had I been later coming home, Hubby might not be here today. But his journey is not mine to control.

In the spring of 2009, I took a "time out" and went off to Florida for a week. I let go of his care and allowed his son to take over for a while. Full of sand, sea and sun, my energy level was back; my balance restored. Unfortunately, during this short week, Hubby took a step down. Was it because I went away? I don't know. Did I feel guilty? Yes, at first. But then, do I control his illness? I think not.

Now, a year later, we've come to the top of the mountain. We both know this journey is coming to a close. We both know it is time to let go. We are lucky this process is so gradual. Others don't have time; they leave regrets, unfinished business, and final words of love unsaid.

And yet - we both feel this incredible closeness. This blurring of souls.
Maybe this always happens at the end of a life.
Maybe not.
I don't know.

With Hubby, the circumstances are such that right now he is practically helpless, lying in bed, attached to the oxygen hose. He wears a mask making it difficult to talk. So I am the interpreter. Nurses, health care workers, his doctor, even the priest who came to visit, all ask David a question, he mumbles a reply and then they look to me for clarification.
I'm still looking after his basic needs when I'm there, so of course we are close.

But what about me? I anticipate and fill his needs now bringing us this closeness, but what can he do for me?
He gets me to talk about myself. When asked "how was your day?" I usually give a brief account or sweep things under the rug, and then focus on the person asking the question. David has forced me to talk about myself. Essentially, he is living through me. He takes comfort in hearing all about my day with the grandkids, at the hairdresser, the garage, the grocery store, the library. Simple everyday life.
He asks about the progress of my book; encouraging me to continue with the publishing process - not to neglect myself or my work to focus solely on him.

Last week I took a day off to go to the dentist and the hairdresser. These appointments were long overdue. It was time. The weather was strange. Strong winds and rain. We even got hail. Then the sun came out. More rain and wind. More sun. I spent the whole day out, ending up at the garden center. Came home in time to pop a chicken in the oven for dinner - a little later than normal, but with nobody home, it doesn't matter.

I noticed then that clocks were all wrong. In a flash I realized that the power must have been off while I was out. I panicked! My heart flip-flopped in my chest.
Then I relaxed.
David is safe - he's in the hospital. Their generators keep the electricity going.

How strange to think Hubby is safe in palliative care. Palliative care is associated with death, not life.