No, I’m not depressed, at least not clinically, but I am in a situational funk and I hate it. No summer mania for me this year (not that I want it, but I could use a lift); in fact, summer is only now arriving as it’s been cool, cloudy and damp all through June and into July. Things have been difficult around here lately, and now I’m lost in memories of that terrible night four years ago when Will passed away after hours of extreme pain. Technically he died on the 13th, but it’s the night of the 12th that will always haunt me.
I’d never seen him in such pain in all the years we were together. Not even when he slid down a dirt hill and broke his ankle did he ever cry or scream, although he did cut loose with a string of profanities whenever he hurt himself. I can’t even imagine what he must have been going through that night…only that he was suffering, and I was utterly powerless to save him from it. It took too long for the hospice nurse to get some fire in the belly and arrange for his admission to the inpatient hospice facility, and the trip itself was too long. Clint sat with him in the transport van and has told me on more than one occasion that he was glad he was present with Will because he didn’t want me to see Will’s handsome face twisted in agony or hear his wails.
Thank God the hospice facility nurses were able to get his pain under control swiftly! He relaxed almost instantly as the medications coursed through his bloodstream, then he went to sleep, and basically never woke up again. Clint reminded me that I should call our priest to give Will the last rites, something I hadn’t even thought of doing. We were all so grateful that Father came that even my son William—not a believer—knelt on the floor and prayed with us.
After this, we had nothing to do but wait. Wait to see what would happen if Will woke up, wait to watch him pass away. Finally, around 2:30AM Clint and Ben decided to go home, while William, his then-wife, and I stayed at the bedside. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. I slipped into a recliner that had been provided for me and just watched him breathe…until he stopped.
I crept around the side of his hospital bed to assess him; nurses never stop being nurses, and I was unsure of his clinical condition. But then he reached out his hand which I literally held in a death grip, he took one last hesitant breath, and it was all over. Thirty-six years of love and marriage lay lifeless in the bed, a beautiful quilt covering his body. I still have that quilt. The hospice nurses gave it to me and it has never left my bed, except to be cleaned, in all this time.
It was 3:10 AM. That was the time I gave the nurse who came in to pronounce him. It’s the time that went on the death certificate too. Ben and Clint returned to the facility since William had called them with the news, and we drove home in total silence, the warm wind in my hair and the sun beginning to think about rising in the early-morning sky. I have never felt more lost in my life. And that wasn’t the last of my worst moments: we still had to visit the funeral home that afternoon. I bawled all the way through that meeting, but we accomplished what we needed to.
Now, four years later, it seems hard to believe it’s been that long; sometimes it feels like it all happened last week. I’m actually a lot better than I was in the first couple of years after Will died, but it’s days like today that remind me that this anniversary will ALWAYS be painful, that I will ALWAYS miss him, until my own dying day…until we meet again.