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Here Comes The Sun - The continuation of “Memories We Share”
Last night, there was a power failure. I was folding the laundry and suddenly found myself in complete darkness, no street lights, no car lights, just black on black.
So, did I stand there and wait for the power to come back on? No, I struck out, inch by careful inch, scooting my feet across the floors of three rooms to gather the long handled lighter and four candles. Once I could see, I opened the windows and let in the cool breeze.
It amazed me when I realized this morning that, while this interruption was short lived, I immediately recognized the problem, went in search of the solutions and by being cautious, I managed not to bang my toes or trip over a piece of furniture. Not so amazing you say? Well, for me, in comparison to the way I have been approaching the other challenges in my life, it was completely astounding.
Somewhere along the way I had either forgotten that I have choices or I gave up on them, being too emotionally exhausted to even try. In the midst of my other problems, you would have found me sitting, or even lying down, waiting for some sort of solution to find me or for the end of the situation, no matter the result.
Perhaps it is because I loathe the end result that I have refused to take much action. You are dying from COPD. That is a fact and one that I thought I had been facing. While you were under Hospice care, that fact was in our faces every day. Then, as the months passed and your COPD did not advance as quickly as predicted, Hospice left. Slowly, I think I started to believe that maybe you were not going to die soon at all. No doctor has said this, no tests have confirmed it, but your breathing didn’t seem so very bad and the largest problems seem to stem from finding a happy medium with your pain medications. I have attributed you being asleep, dropping things, and not being coherent very often when you are awake all to the medication. I still believe you are over-medicated and will continue to ask our Nurse Practitioner to slowly lower the doses of Oxycontin at the rate of 10 milligrams every two weeks.
There is a new factor coming into play though, or perhaps one that I have chosen not to acknowledge. You breathing is getting more labored. You can no longer lay down in the bed and breath, even with piles of pillows propping you. You are also ever bent forward as you sleep in your chair, a sign I read about that means you are seeking to find a position that allows the most air flow possible. Last week you even turned on the oxygen for a short while, something you have not done voluntarily in months. Even you have made choices and are dealing with the COPD on your terms.
What have I been doing these past months? Hating your disease and watching you slowly die. I have, in effect, been dying with you. It didn’t seem right to do anything else. If I worked outside of the home and was not your sole caretaker then there would be other aspects to my life and no one, including me, would think it wrong or selfish that I attend to those areas. If you were suddenly taken by a car accident or a heart attack, I would be devastated but no one, including me, would think that I must then set about my own death. Yet that is what I have been doing, passively dying along side of you. Is that what you want for me? No, not at all, we have discussed this. This has been my choice, inaction to do anything to preserve my life or look toward any kind of a future for myself, if indeed you do die first.
I have had to ask myself a very difficult question. Do I even want to live beyond your time. I have finally made a decision and I no longer think it is a selfish one or that I am deserting you in any way. Yes, I do want to live and I don’t want to wait until you pass to start living again. There will be time for grieving, time for sorrow … after you are gone. There has been too much already, nine months of it since Hospice was first brought in last June. You did not cause this, you did not ask me to join you, that was my doing.
Will it be a difficult balance, to have a life apart from the reality that you are dying? Very much so, yes. The existence I’ve been dragging myself through has been difficult, as well. I need to set myself free, love. I will still be here for you as long as God allows, but hopefully when you are awake you will see a smiling face and a more relaxed and even calm life-mate.
Just as you will go on before me if this disease takes you first, and I can not follow, I need to go on by myself now to a place you can only visit briefly. I am going to a life without so much worry about the future instead of staying in an existence of anxiety. The curtains are coming open and the windows too. If you are chilled, I will cover you, but I need to breath. And it will be bright, your eyes will have to adjust, as mine have to darkness … look out now, are you ready? Here comes the sun.