Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rounding the Final Corner

Inside our little apartment here, there has been a steady creeping-in of the furniture of illness. How else to describe it. First, there was a wheelchair - a giant wheelchair to fit his 6'8" frame. And we found a way to fit it into the bedroom, near the closet. Next, there came the oxygen concentrator, with miles of tubing and cords and whatnot, along with cylinders of oxygen. For 'just in case.' We managed to find room for these things, too. Then came the fully electric hospital bed, which found its place in the middle of the living room, surrounded by his bookcases and favorite books, near the floor furnace so he can keep warm, and facing the window so he can look out and watch the come and go of sunlight. We took out the dining table to make room, putting it in storage. Our friends loaned us soft, lovely sheets in his favorite woodland colors, and he's bolstered with large, lovely pillows - nothing could look less like a hospital bed than this. Then came the bedside commode, as his legs became too weak to make the 15 foot walk to the bathroom. And at last, we have the bed alarm, to let me know when he's moving around, so that I could have some peace of mind and sleep for more than an hour at a time. From January 13th through February 8th, these things have crept into our lives.

I think to myself, in just a few days all of this will be gone and I will reclaim this as a living space as opposed to a dying space. Will that happen gradually or all at once?

I'm standing in the bathroom, brushing my teeth. His toothbrush is in the holder beside mine. Will I keep it? I start to cry when I think about it. Little things catch me unawares now. The sight of his cane propped up in the corner where he always keeps it. His shoes next to mine on the closet floor. His shampoo on the bathroom windowsill. His collection of salt-free condiments in the refrigerator. Little things. Ridiculous, the things that trigger me.

As his time is drawing to a close, he becomes more fretful. More forgetful of his surroundings and circumstances. He's now in a stage of paranoia and complete confusion; now all his meds are in liquid form as he has such trouble swallowing. He's stopped eating. Now, the slightest thing can set off hours of anxiety and fear. He senses other people's agitation, their Giant Wet Feels. He takes it all so deeply to heart, as he always has, and it's wrecking him.

I am determined that he will leave this world as softly, as gently, as sweetly as humanly possible. Which means I now have to protect him from everyone. I have to be the Dragon at the Gate now. I'll do it.

With no apology. 
Couldn't source the original image - this comes from