I awoke to swollen eyes. Lids so tight. Like a pressure cooker on high. Blinking took less effort. Eyes were barely open. Sinuses full with equal pressure. My heart feeling as heavy as anvil. I miss him.
That was a lot of tears. The sad heavy kind. The kind that flow with no control, a deep ache within. Arms extended to receive a hug that isn’t there.
I can’t believe the time that has passed. I can feel the oiliness of his skin and see the sheen when warm sunlight hits it. I can feel his hair. It feels exactly like mine. I can hear the sound of his cross as he moves the clasp to the back. I can’t hear his voice.
We were two of a kind. Us. Gregarious. Finding joy in the littlest things. The smells of the earth during the fall. Fresh cut grass. A perfect cup of coffee. We shared a love for words. We shared our stubborn ways. Our work ethic. Trees in bloom. We shared a kindness for people. Believing a smile to a stranger may change their day for the better. Sharing in other people’s enthusiasm. Making people feel important. Caring more about the janitor than the CEO. Some of our mistakes are comparable. Others not. We had our difference (queue equal stubbornness). But I think we made the other want to be better. Do better.
My husband said it hurts so badly because he meant so much. And I believe that’s true. I’d rather have sadness because he meant so much than anger because he meant nothing.
I had stayed the night with my mom the night before. I didn’t want her to be alone. He awoke in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. And when my mom wasn’t able to get him back into the bed she yelled for me to help. I climbed on the bed, latching my arms into his from behind and heaved. We got him situated and I went back to bed. I rose early, went home, got ready for work, got the kids ready and returned to their house with my kids in toe. My daughter was three, my son was one. My mom watched them during the day while we worked.
I didn’t feel settled. Something wasn’t right. I made it two hours at work before calling my boss to say I felt like I needed to go home. I arrived at their house and she was surprised to see me.
He was still in bed. My brother and grandfather were with him. He wouldn’t wake up. My mom was keeping herself together, busying herself with getting the kids lunch ready. I took over, fixed them lunch, and ate with them. She put them down for a nap. Their naps were two hours on a really great day. We could at least bank on an hour or a little more.
I called the hospice nurse, let her know what was going on. She said she would swing by. I made it into the room a few times. I never got a moment alone with him. I laid on his chest.
The nurse arrived a little after one. By this time his whole family was there. I listened intently to every word she said. This is what I do. I listen, I learn, I understand. It makes acceptance easier when you hear facts. My mom’s sister and her husband arrived. The nurse said his end of life had begun and that he would pass at some point in the next three days. She suggested my mother not be alone. My brother and I started to work out the schedule. I text the kids’ dad to say things took a turn. I stepped outside, lit a cigarette and dialed my boss’s number. It rang twice. My Aunt opened the door and said he was dying. Right now. I hung up. I ran.
I laid my head on his stomach. Lying next to my mom who had her head on his chest, right over his heart. My brother knelt down on his right side holding his hand. His parents, his nephew, his brother, my Aunt and Uncle filled the rest of the room. I heard a lot of tears. Voices telling him it was ok to go.
His last breath taken. I looked at the nurse for confirmation and she nodded. I looked at the clock. It was 1:47. I left the room. I stepped outside. I lit a cigarette and I called the kids’ dad. Neither of us believing it since I had sent him the first text just ten minutes before.
The kids were still asleep. I kept checking on them. The house wasn’t exactly quiet. I was worried they were going to wake up. Wonder why all these people were here. What do I say?
The funeral home arrived. That was sad.
As they closed the doors on their transport my kids woke up. They slept for the entire ordeal. Over three hours. I think my dad was in there with them, hushing them into a deep slumber.
That’s my April 6th.
Every April 6th for the last five years.
I feel sick today. I felt sick yesterday. It seems worse this year than years prior and I think it’s because it’s a milestone. But I’ve survived it. And I will keep on surviving it.