Larry and I were initially given six to twelve months, we got twenty-six days, ten of which he was in the hospital, leaving me with sixteen days with my husband.
Not much time at all. Especially when his health was failing and his body was letting him down as the days passed.
During this time period I was busier than ever doing all sorts of “adult” things – the kind of things NOBODY prepares you for in high school or university:
– arranging for palliative care and having home assessment done for future services (which in all honesty, we never really used)
– arranging funeral and cremation
– comissioning a funeral urn from a good friend who is a fantastic woodworker (thanks Steve)
– ensuring his will and power of attorney were up to date
– discussing memorial service and handling death and crossing over with Christian and Wiccan clergy.
– reaching out to his family.
At the same time we began to recognize that six to twelve months seemed to be a very, shall we say, optimistic assessment at how much time we had left. Particularly when we got the CT scan results and the words “riddled” (tumours) “rampant” (cancer) and “obliterated” (his liver) were used in it.
During what time we had left we packed a LOT of living in too:
– walking the dogs while he still had strength.
– sitting on the front porch when he didn’t have strength, even when in 90 degree weather, he was bundled in sweaters and under a polar fleece blanket.
– attending Cannon Coffee Co. for coffee, waffle bacon and eventually just to sit and enjoy the ambiance, love and hugs. Even when I had to push him in a wheelchair into the cafe.
– just being together and realizing that our time was limited and rapidly diminishing as each day went on, so we maximized what time we had together.
It wasn’t fun, watching my husband go from being a vibrant, jolly and strong man with a twinkle in his eye to a skeletal, pale and frail man in the manner of days. This is how virulent the cancer was. He was 165 lbs on the day of the CT Scan and 122 lbs when he was admitted into the hospital – SIXTEEN DAYS LATER. He went from walking slowly to being wheelchair bound to bedridden during this time frame.
We had incredible service from the local CCAC and the palliative care team. The visits from the nurse, Avi, were a pleasure, despite the reason behind his being there. Rev. Doug Moore from Laidlaw Memorial Church was a pleasure to talk to both as spiritual care and as a friend.
During this time, I also found out who our real friends were and not just fairweather acquaintances. While I understand being around somebody who is dying is difficult, both Larry and I welcomed any distraction and friendship.
I also had some unexpected and unpleasant surprises at work which I won’t get into here, however my manager and assistant director at the time were very supportive of me both personally and professionally and I’d like to hope the cause of these surprises is far distant in my rear view mirror as of now.
And at some point, Larry also secreted little messages to me throughout the house. I can’t imagine when he found the time, energy and spirit to do so, however I kept on finding mementos, cards and slips of paper which was his way of showing me he loved me and reminding me to live after he was taken from me. His love and kindness lives on in my heart.
So we packed a LOT of living and life experiences in those final 16 days we had together as a couple and I cherish and honour the memory of them.