I knew it would happen eventually. Just wasn't expecting it quite so quickly. The betrayal of his physical body and his brain...he didn't deserve that. No one does.
This is a very hard post for me to write. The last couple weeks of his life things moved pretty quickly. The dementia had spread to his brain stem, the part of his body responsible for the very basic functions of life that we take for granted; ability to swallow, breathing, and functioning of his heart.
It is too raw and painful for me to share all of the details of the end of his life, but I will tell you that up until the last two days of his life, he was still able to let me know that he felt my presence. At the end, I was spending all day and night, not wanting to leave his side. I would sleep right next to him in his small single bed, and he would snuggle right up to me, as if acknowledging that he knew I was there.
The last day of his life, my sister stopped by for a visit in the afternoon. She has experience as a hospice nurse, and her presence was very comforting. She left after a couple of hours. At that point I just crawled into bed with him, totally exhausted myself and just wanting to be close to him. I sensed that he was near the end. I laid my head on his chest and just closed my eyes, just resting, not sleeping. Just the two of us, with me holding him in my arms. I suddenly realized that his chest was no longer rising.
I like to think that he chose that very special moment in time to transition from his body. Physically together and holding him close for the last time. It was all very surreal. But also very peaceful.
Shortly thereafter, two very dear friends (who didn't know each other before that day!) Amy and Camille, came by. They both had planned to stop in for a visit. Little did they know that their timing was nothing short of a miracle. They helped me with some of the more practical things that had to be done. And then Amy followed me home and stayed for a while to make sure I was ok.
The last two weeks have been a blur. Phone calls to be made, final details for arrangements...all the things that must be done at a time like this. Calling hours were a blessing I never expected. So many people came; the consoling words and the many wonderful and kind things that were shared about him really touched my heart.
Family and friends have been amazing. So grateful for their kindness, caring and support. Dr. M. has been with me every step of the way. Her reassurance that I did not have to travel this sad journey alone, that she would be there to support me, has given me so much comfort and encouragement. I was able to share my deepest sorrows with her, knowing that she provides a soft place to land, during this very difficult time of life.
Jabberwalky, who has walked this journey for a very long time has been an incredible support to me as well. Having a spouse with dementia, she knows first hand how difficult it can be. Our email correspondence has helped both of us to keep our sanity. It helps so much to know that someone else really knows and can relate to the heartache of watching a loved one succumb to this disease.
My sweetheart. His body and his brain failed him, but his soul is within me. I feel his presence. Every day I feel his love, his gentle kindness and his soft voice telling me that he is still here with me. It's the guy I fell in love with; the dementia has him no more. He is finally free of this cruel disease..
* He found a way, even at the very end of his life to let me know that he was still there!
* My hairdresser Lisa, who came every 4 weeks to cut his hair. They had a very special connection, and one of the sweetest things she said was that she would still come to see him even if he was bald!
* Healing relationships. A gift from him that I never expected; his illness and passing has brought family members even closer together.
* Gifts of love and caring from friends and family. The thoughtful phone calls, visits, offers of help; all so appreciated.
* He is still with me. I hear his soft voice, reassuring me, telling me he loves me, and letting me know that he'll be with me as I transition into uncharted territory. I won't be alone.
* And for you, dear readers. When I poured my heart out, you were here for me. The kindness, the thoughtful comments, and the caring has touched my heart. You reached out to me to let me know that you cared. And that means the world to me.