I didn’t lose Carol, I didn’t carelessly forget where I had put her. She didn’t pass away or pass, to where? The words around death smooth and soften the unpalatable. Is death so frightening we can’t talk about it for what it is? Well, it’s certainly not a picnic in the park.
Today I’ve been musing on how long we had to get used to the idea that Carol was dying, it was about 6 days. Some don’t get that long and there is no better or worse. We all knew she had a shorter life expectancy than most but that didn’t actually make it better. We all knew she’d been on a downward trajectory since having to stop dialysing at home and the subsequent loss of her independence. But the days before her brain haemorrhage she and I had been out on a day trip, we’d had a friend round for a meal, we’d planned what we’d like to do in my new life of redundancy (now retirement, bugger working again).
So looking back 3 months it was a shock. We had to implement Carol’s decision about what she wanted her end to be and that was the hardest and the easiest thing ever. Easy because she was so clear about what she wanted and what she definitely didn’t want. Easy because I didn’t want her not to have the life she wanted. Hard because I love her and have loved her for so long.
Carol’s death was peaceful and it also had a beauty. I feel privileged to have held her hand as her bodily systems closed down and stopped. She came awake for the last minute before death. She looked a bit surprised but in a good way. A bit like when I’d given her a surprise present that she really hadn’t been expecting. And then, Carol definitely wasn’t there anymore.
I didn’t lose Carol but I have lost the daily momentum of our life together. There’s no longer anyone to talk rubbish to or to deal with the random irritations (like power cuts) of daily life. The trivia, the stupid jokes. She gave me a fridge magnet that reads “My husband gives me sound advice, 99% sound and 1% advice!” I don’t miss the relentless tedium of kidney disease and all the associated admin and clutter and medical appointments, but I miss the games we played to soften the hardness of our life.
I’m a bit unsure what my safety net consists of now. Counselling has helped me for the last 5 years but surely at some point I must stand on my own 2 feet. Literally. Breaking my leg has shown me so many lovely friends and family who have stepped up and helped me practically, each in ways that made sense for them and for me. Brilliant.