On Friday nights I used to try to play video games or watch TV until I'm too exhausted to stay up a moment longer I try to avoid the inevitable, to sleep through the waves of grief that will hit me come morning but nothing I can do will save me from another cycle on the water wheel. Lately I've learned that it is actually easier to grieve when you are not also exhausted, so I've given in.
In my heart's memory every Saturday begins the same way. At 7 AM Sara is in pain, and I spend the morning running from pharmacy to pharmacy to get her the prescriptions the doctor orders.
No amount of drugs or rearrangement of the bed seem to help her feel comfortable. By 5 PM she's having trouble breathing, I am opening windows, cleaning fans and putting them in. At 6 PM she's in too much trouble and I can't help her, so I call the paramedics. They arrive in 15 minutes. I have copies of the DNR and Health Care Proxy ready, along with a list of drugs she's taken. They put her on an oxygen tank and put her in an upright chair to carry her out of her bed, and down the stairs. I know this is the very last time my sweetie will be in the house with me. I break down and cry, but still I realize I need to take the car or I won't have transportation back.
They take her into the ER. Two doctors look at her, she needs water desperately, she's barely got the strength to tell them I'm in charge when they ask. A nurse comes to tell me how she's going to die. That after she's gone she'll still breathe, her face will tense, and she'll gasp for air. A paramedic comes in to take blood tests. I decline, sobbing, there's not a damn thing they can do for her. She looks at me in between thrashing to try to breathe and get more air into her lungs, and says just once in between mutual affirmations of love: "I'm so sorry."
At 7PM they find her a private room. Nurses who have taken care of her before and met Lynne and I are there to take care of her. She's thrashing. Around 7:10 she calls my name out once, and she's gone. I am not sure, though so I run to the car, I need the phone, and come back, the nurses are all around, they look at me with sorrow and tell me she's really gone. In a way I'm glad. I've been watching a horror movie. Imagine watching the one person in your life who ever loved you get eaten alive by some strange alien creature for the past two years. I am glad for her. I am glad she cannot feel pain, and I feel incredibly guilty at the selfish insensitive bastard I've become when I realized how our life together would end, and as I took care of her, and how happy that bastard is that the vomiting, the midnight thrashing, the wasting away of the most beautiful creature in my life has stopped.
These are my Saturdays. Today marks 6 months of them. I hate them, I despise them and I fear them more than any of you could possibly know. I am still angry at those who had knee-jerk reactions of sharing more of her with me without asking me and yet, I can't offer those who did everything right anything better, which is to say my anger and hatred and desperation at the entire fucking ordeal. My bile at the patients in England who are living longer with melanoma thanks to new tumor shrinking medicines. I would sacrifice them, their children and pets if it would give me another good month with my Sara, knowing it would assuage the incredible guilt I feel now at not being more able to share in everything she was going through, the pain, the love or the courage or loneliness she was experiencing. This guilt is literally killing me and I hold it at bay only thanks to small selfish spurts of exhaustion.
I put this all now to explain to all of you that I withdraw not because you are not interesting enough, or too inconvenient to reach or that I'm so rich with friends that I don't have time for you, or that you did not do enough. In all cases the opposite is true. I am truly and completely utterly alone, and this is as much for your sake as it is for my own. There is nothing so good in my life that it can mask or cover this up, no memory I can post in shared humor or melancholy with you that is any less obscene in it's despair, and I am too tired to hide it anymore or warn people off with gentle, socially acceptable hints to be misinterpreted later. This is all I have to share with you.
Be well, be merry, and understand there is nothing more positive within me I can offer you in your own grief than my absence.