Sunday, June 25, 2017

Flooding Memories

Gary is dying.  I know that.  I've known it for a long time.  Not just since the Doctor told me in February that if he lived until August, he would call it a miracle.  I knew it long before but shrouded myself in unhealthy denial.  I am not in denial anymore. 

I have visited Gary more often in the last two weeks because I sense his end is near.  Today his vitals were perfectly normal.  I walked into his room a few minutes after they put him down to nap for the afternoon.  He was so soundly asleep that I checked his chest for breathing.  For a split second, I thought he might be dead.  I felt nothing.  Yep, I have my emotions buried so deep that in the moment of thinking he was dead....I felt nothing but relief.

He does not seem to be suffering.  Most days he still eats three meals per day.  He has no emotion and if he has eyes open, he only stares through people. Most of the time he sits with eyes closed.

This disease is so unfair. 

So, with all that said, I made an offer on a townhome this week.  It was accepted and we should close in 30 days.  I am very excited that I will have my own place that does not have haunting memories of Gary in it.  The memories will mostly be of the past during good times.  I am committed to it.

Today, I started packing.  I began with the bookshelf.  Memories flooded my mind of businesses, vacations, sailing, friends, and Gary's life before me.  So many books.  So many ideas.   I am taking them all with me since the new house has extensive shelving in the library.

Heather and I opened a bottle of Asti to share.  No particular reason.  I would feel weird celebrating.  I feel weird grieving. 

Life will be strange without Gary.  Life was strange with Gary.  For those of you when knew us, that last statement was FUNNY.

Thanks to all who support me and pray for Gary.  I somehow sense that he knows he is saved and loved by many.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day Gary!

It's Father's Day weekend 2017.  Never in my wildest imagination would I have pictured visiting my husband in Memory Care Unit in his last stages of life on this weekend.  We were supposed to be playing Golf in Panama surrounded by Gary Jr., Heather and their families.  God had a different plan.

On Saturday I visited Gary.  The angel/caregivers were all busy readying the tables for the Father's Day Celebration.  The tables were covered with checkerboard cloths, the napkins were tied like neckties for the men and peanuts and pretzels were on the table!  They were served chicken wings, hot dogs, potato salad, French fries and onion rings! 

I would like to say that Gary enjoyed it but that is probably not the case.  He ate every bite but as usual he showed no emotion. 

Gary Jr. sent a Father's Day card from Pennsylvania so I read it to Gary.  Deep down, I know he wants to see his children again but for various reasons that just won't happen. Perhaps that is what he is hanging on for.....then again, maybe not.  I left the card on his pillow so perhaps the angels will read it to him again before bed.

He has some sort of eye problem.  I managed to see in his eye that was encrusted with mucus.  An eyelash seemed to be the culprit so we flushed his eyes and called the nurse to keep an eye on it.  It is amazing what things can happen when we as humans cannot take care of such small eyelash....really?

Today, I will go to church and have lunch out.  I am by myself again as my family that has been visiting has started the journey back home.  It was fantastic spending time with them and I am glad they visited Gary.

Steve and Denise were a welcome sight during such a tough time.  Since I lost my Dad and Sister this year, it was nice have scheduled grief time.  There were very few tears but lots of laughs.....very therapeutic.

Steve prayed over Gary and asked for God's will and peace.  I hope it comes soon.  That is about all I can say for now....

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weeping to Crying to Sobbing

I finally allowed myself to breakdown. The events leading up to this day have been mounting for weeks.

A friend said, "Ada, you are not leaning on your faith.  Jesus has this.  There is a wall coming at you that is very big.  You are lying to yourself if you think this death will not get to you. You are really good at lying to yourself."

I said, "You are wrong.  I've been grieving for Gary for years. I'll be fine.  I'm okay with this."

Sure Ada.  Keep telling yourself that....

So, today I went to see Gary before breakfast.  As soon as I saw him I started getting emotional.  He looked no different than he has for quite a while but my brain was remembering all those conversations and knowing my friend is correct.

As I fed him breakfast, I started talking to him.  He stared at me as he opened his mouth for each bite.  No emotion, no words, no nothing.....just chewing and swallowing.  I started to weep at first.  He looked at me and tears rolled down my cheeks.  Grief tears....they are silent and white hot on the face.

After he finished eating, I rolled him into the living room where we could be alone.  I talked to him.  I really talked to him.  I told him my fears and about my anger with his disease. I shared my love for him and that I was lying to him when I said I would be okay right away.  I told him that I miss him everyday and that I will for a long time.  I miss our talks, his advice and our jokes. 

I went from weeping to crying.  He looked at me and seemed to understand that the woman sitting with him was feeling a strong emotion.  His forehead wrinkled for a moment.  I kept myself from sobbing and dried my eyes.  I moved around in front of him and took off his sandals and rubbed his feet and legs.  He took his right leg away as it was apparently hurting or uncomfortable.  His left leg and foot took the rubbing.  He started to relax and closed his staring eyes.
He was so peaceful just a foot away from my emotional turmoil.  I knew I was about to lose all comportment so I rolled him into the big room and kissed him on the forehead.  He appeared asleep.  I thought, "Is this the last time I will see him?"  Then I realized that I should as a different question.  The better question is:  "Is this the last time I will see him alive on Earth?"  Heaven is not that far away for any of us.

I went to the parking garage and as I opened my car, I saw a box of tissues in the floor so I reached for them and the waterworks started.  It was almost as if the tissues gave me permission to take the lid off the emotions I have had screwed on so tightly.  Like an oil well, my sobs gushed forth.  Stop it Ada.......I stopped for a moment and called a friend who understands.  That voice allowed me to cry, sob and let go.  The grief tears were a welcome relief and only a small preview of what I think is still in me. I received validation that it was okay to cry. I've been through a lot of situations in the last few years so I deserve to let go.

Since 2015, I have lost 3 syblings, my Dad, my job and soon my husband.  I closed a 156 year old college and laid off 200+ employees.  I did a national job search, moved and started a new job in Southern California while simultaneously being a caregiver to Gary.  I wrecked my car and almost died just a few months ago.  I had a Cancer scare recently and will have surgery soon.  I guess I am pretty tough with God's grace and mercy pulling me through all along the way.

With that said, it was time to go to church.  Fix the make-up, touch up the mascara and put on my big girl face......done.  Church brought all the players I needed into one space.  People who care for me deeply and could see through the smile. My swollen eyes were a dead giveaway.
I will lean on them heavily in the near future, of that, I am sure.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Stark Contrast of the Two Garys

I arrived at Sunrise Senior Care this morning at 9:45 am.  Upon greeting me at the door, one of the caregivers told me that Gary was still in bed but awake.  They had saved his breakfast.  Apparently, he was super sleepy and they let him rest. 

He has a new roommate to whom I was promptly introduced.  He smiled and spewed forth an incredible, unintelligible sentence.  I smiled and told him it was nice to meet him.  He was watching a western on television.  Gary was awake but had his eyes tight shut.

I looked at him.  His left hand was not swollen as much as it has been in the past but the right side of his face and eye were very puffy.  I touched his face and he opened the left eye.  No visible recognition.  I put my hand on his and he grasped it firmly.  Maybe he knew it was me.  I sat next to him for a few minutes while the new roommate was talking incessantly about something.  I just smiled at him. 

Then, out of nowhere, the unit dog Annie (weighs about 5 pounds) pounced on the bed, onto Gary's chest and licked his nose.  Both eyes became wide.  No startled look nor sign that he liked it.  Just a stare.

I glanced up at the pictures on his wall and noticed the stark contrast between the old Gary and the Gary who is now a body that stares.

The angels came into bathe him and put him in his chair so I stepped out of the room.  That is not my responsibility anymore.  I waited and chatted with the angel on duty in the big living room.  Most of the other residents were sitting outside on the veranda in the shade.  It was so peaceful.

Soon, Gary came out for breakfast dressed in his backpacking Tshirt and pants!  I'm not sure why the angels picked that outfit but it somehow seemed oddly appropriate. 

I take lots of pictures now because I don't know how much longer I can. 

He ate all of his breakfast and drank two glasses of juice.  In no way is he going hungry.  I soon kissed him goodbye and left to run errands.  Every time I walk out and leave him, I think it might be the last.  I am at peace with that now.