It was hard to leave the hospital for a number of reasons. For Kathleen, tearful goodbyes for one. People she will never see again. Ever. As in the big ‘ever’. For me, it was like leaving a supportive family. There were so many young nurses who treated Kathleen as a beloved aunt, and so many older nurses who treated her like a treasured niece. And for me, just overwhelming kindness and respite. I remember coming in last Sunday morning, and the nurse who was Kathleen’s “constant” (when you have to be constantly monitored, the nurse assigned is called a “constant”) had turned down her sheets and arranged her pillows so perfectly and lovingly, I was expecting to find towel art like at one of those fancy Caribbean resorts. You know, a fresh bath towel origamied into a swan? There were a lot of tears shed. Seeing the hospital retreat away through the back portal window of the ambulance taking us home only added to the defined intensity of the moment.
I was thinking a lot about that guy from back in November who I happened to pass in the hall as he casually asked the nurse, “You called and said my wife is in a coma. Is she here or on the 6th floor.” I cant even remember what he looked like now, just the unphased tone in his voice. Its probably been a few weeks now, perhaps a month where I have become that guy. I know Kathleen is going to die soon and it no longer terrifies me like the way it used to… Same with Kathleen to a different degree. As with each new step along the way, we acclimatized. She literally was placed into her death bed in the living room today. We both cried, but not that much.
Twenty minutes later, we were on the side deck, enjoying the sun and having a bbq with family and a friend who Kath was roomates with last February in the hospital. I was tired and didnt really want to do it, but Kath insisted. It took a good 15min just to transfer her out of the livingroom bed and into the wheel chair to get out to the side deck. But reflecting on it after, the BBQ was a profound reminder of what life is for me. Its finite and you must fight to live sometimes. And I dont mean hold on for the sake of holding on– struggle to make the best of whatever situation you are in. Look for light in those dark places. Make friends and relationships no matter where you are and how you are. And entertaining family and guests 20 min after being placed in your deathbed ? Thats the amazing fighter I have known and loved for almost 26 years.