Sunday, June 13, 2010

Only the Beginning

Early Monday, the day he died, when I said "I love you," Clint opened his eyes and said he loved me back. As the day wore on, he stopped responding, but he opened his eyes to let me know he could hear me. Later, when the death rattle was so bad the others could not bear it, I had him all to myself. I lay beside him, leaned into him and put my lips to his ear to say how much I loved him, how desperately I would miss him. I said he made me the happiest woman in the world and that I was strong and would be all right. I said I knew how tired he was and that it was okay to let go, to leave. I put a cool rag on his forehead because he was burning with fever, and I touched him gently because I knew his skin was hurting from the fever. I cried. I cried and kept saying how much I loved him and how I would be okay. After a while, he didn't open his eyes any more and I knew he was in a coma. But I kept talking to him, whispering words of love and sadness. I know he heard me. I just know it. His breathing was hard but I put little drops of morphine under his tongue so he could be more comfortable and not struggle. When he drew in the breath that he could not breathe out, I lay my head on his chest to listen for his heart. It was quiet, the last sign of life gone. My tears splashed onto his sweater and I heaved with sadness and at profound sense of emptiness rolled over me. I kept listening, but his heart did not beat again. I thought that was the most terrible moment of my life, the most painful thing that I had ever endured. I lay with him a moment then had to let the nurse have him while I went to tell the others, say to them that Poppy was dead, lost to us forever. We wept together, and we wept on our own. Only an idiot would say how they felt. I only know how I felt, but I do know how they looked, how they acted - wounded and confused and blank-eyed and afraid. I went back to be with him one more time, happy for him, glad he was no longer struggling, relieved he had no more pain. I thought the worst was over, but that was bullshit. It was just the beginning. I had no understanding that my life was poised at the steps of hell, that the worst was yet to come and that it would keep coming for days and weeks, longer. I didn't know I had lied when I said I was strong and would be okay. I'm not strong. I'm not okay. He's been dead for two months, and I get sadder every day, miss him more, plead for him to somehow come back, ache with emptiness, rage at God for taking him away. I am not strong. Maybe I will be one day, but it's not today.

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