July 4th, Hospice Day

Coming up on a year is serious business. June was tough, with our wedding anniversary and remembering the day, a year before, when he was found unconscious in his car, while I was at work. He called me from the ambulance, trying to make me feel calm, but failing miserably as I heard the fear in his voice. Scott was going for a CT of his brain, full contrast. I had insisted on it, seeing subtle changes in his behavior, noticing he was harder to wake in the morning or after a nap. His mobility on the stairs was becoming dangerous, and he was making choices that were not safe.He insisted he felt fine, and everything was status as usual. I sensed otherwise. I certainly did not want him driving if it was unsafe and time to give up.I knew that would be the most difficult freedom to give up of all.  He even took to wearing a “Pepe” hat, to go with the giant Grand Marquis the church Pastor had given him, so he could slide in and out of the car, on those bench seats of blue leather. He loved that stupid car. It reminded me multiple times a day that I was losing my husband, who was now driving a Grandpa car, complete with a stupid hat and walking like an 80 year old. Damn that car! That was my denial. Angry. Not wanting anyone to feel sorry for us. Proud. Not dependent. Denial is a hard place to exist. It is static,bitter,selfish.Very resourceful. Scott’s denial was much more like him, fun-loving, graceful, grateful and loving. I still marvel at his ability to smile and have the capacity to love and be loved.

Now it’s The 4th of July, one year later. My denial is back, still kicking and screaming. To be honest, it never really left, popping up at unexpected times. Like, when I look at paint colors or have imaginative fights with someone who no longer lives here and I find myself defending my choice of drape colors to no one in particular. “I really want those light blue raw silk panels…and they’re on sale… and I think they will go great in the dining room with the…”. So buy them and stop arguing with a dead person. But I can’t, because it doesn’t feel the way I remember it. It’s so hard. These invisible rules. These invisible people who you feel but can’t see. Right now, I’ve spent way too much time trying to buy a new car. I want more than anything to get rid of that Pepe-mobile. But a large part of me just can’t. I’m more of a VW convertible or Volvo station wagon girl. I’m working on it, bit by bit. I have a wonderful grief specialist. We’ll get there, little by little. At the moment, I’m looking at our closet, which is empty for the first time in 10 years. I managed to get a lot sorted, but then I came across his bureau top, left exactly the way it was a year ago, on July 4th. The day I had to have him go to Hospice. We could not control the pain anymore at home. I had been up three straight days, giving morphine and sedatives under the tongue, on top of his oral meds. The breakthrough pain medicines were not working.Doing it alone. With two teenagers who were very concerned. Sometimes our decisions we make are for the good of the group. Not easy. In some ways, harder than his death, which was a release and a peace I now understand.

I thank God everyday for sending a good friend of ours, Steve. He sat on the side of the bed for a couple of hours and just whispered in his ear, one arm around his shoulder and the other, holding his hand. I can’t tell you what it is that they talked about. I do not know.It was a private conversation, between two of the best husbands and fathers I know. It was a shared moment between two friends. I do know, had he not showed up, I don’t know what would have happened, because my love refused to go to hospice that day.  Again, denial at it’s worst. Scott was willing to do whatever he had to to not leave us. But it was time. Without a doubt in my mind. Steve and his wife Cheryl were at a crossroads in their marriage. And so were we.


One thought on “July 4th, Hospice Day

  1. Sandy, the image of Steve and Scott together is a beautiful one. Thank you for sharing it.
    I can relate to all you write here — the details are a bit different, the essence the same.
    I just finished remodeling our kitchen and I debated every detail (lights, drawer pulls, colors) with John. I believe he’d approve of most of the choices made, although he would think I spent way too much on the fancy glass tile backsplash…

    It gets easier…except on random days when it is very hard. Tap into your rich network of friends and family to get you through those days — feel free to call this far-flung one!


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