Monday, February 3, 2014

Quitter Talk*

He's experiencing shorter and shorter periods of lucidity.  His sparkling, dark wit peeks through an impenetrable fog, and those brief moments break over you when you least expect them. He speaks a lot now in non sequiturs, but immediately recognizes he's doing it.  I've stopped wondering what he's trying to say, and just imagine it's a giant game of cosmic improv. 

My Valentine.

The signs are confusing and the message is mixed. His blood pressure is low. His respirations are slowing. His pulse is okay - probably his pacemaker. He's not running a fever. He's not showing any signs of jaundice.  He rallies. He fails. He's not following any kind of schedule. There are no steps to take in sequential order. Everyone dies, and everyone dies differently.

He looked at me the other day in all seriousness and said, "I'm not getting any better, am I." I said no, sweetheart, you are not. "Huh," he said. "This sucks." Could not agree more.

There is now a hospital bed in the middle of the living room. He said he feels like the centerpiece of a banquet, or a reptile behind glass at the zoo.

Now he's bedridden. I can't let him get up any more. His knees now buckle without warning. He hates this part of the process the most, this confinement.  This morning I had to raise the side rail on his hospital bed for the first time. He said, "You know, if I really understood what was happening here I'd probably be pissed off." I told him I just want to keep him safe. "Well, good luck with that," he said, then promptly fell asleep.

My daughter came to visit for a few days and lend a hand with whatever she could. She helped me clear the room last Friday to get the hospital bed in here. She's been sitting with him when I run errands. She's been making food for us. We've been watching movies together, talking, laughing, enjoying each other's company. He loves my daughter - I can see him making this huge effort to be present with her.

We have so few regrets. How many people can say that? We have enormous gratitude for every moment shared; every laugh, every tear, each shared pain and each blinding joy. Forgettable, unregrettable, indelible, painful, perfect.  All of our lifetime together condensed down into these few weeks.

This is Monday. He asked me to make a Pandora station for Mahogany Rush. I did. It was playing while his nurse/case manager was here earlier. He had a few bites of scrambled egg with pico de gallo. He drank a bit of lemon ginger tea. He's sleeping again, only this time he's smiling in his sleep.

There's a sense of unreality about all this. The Feels keep surprising me out of the blue. I know he's going to leave us very soon, but it just doesn't make sense to me. I can't get my head around it. Like it's a movie I saw long ago.

Or a story I read once.

*Asa titled this post when I started writing it on Saturday. He said, "You know, if the Hemlock Society had a radio show . . ."