Author Topic: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread  (Read 4184 times)

lcoxwell

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Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« on: March 08, 2015, 11:11:32 PM »
One year ago today was the last time I ever got to see my Kenneth's eyes open. After falling out of bed numerous times the night before, he finally slept for a few hours in the morning. I had to get him up for the visit from home hospice, but it was obvious the confusion had completely set in. After the visit, I stepped outside to speak with the home hospice worker. I told him I suspected that it wouldn't be long, before Kenneth was gone; and he was honest with me, saying that Kenneth was in bad shape and that he would be surprised if Kenneth made it through another 24 hours.

While waiting on the home hospice worker to arrive, and during the time he was there, two of Kenneth's sons and his daughter (all in other states and several hours away) called to speak with him one last time. Those were short conversations, because he was so weak and tired and far too confused to carry on a conversation. He kept repeating himself and saying things that made no sense, whatsoever. He also spoke with my son, Matthew, who was the only one of our kids still living with us, and wished him a happy birthday.

Shortly after the home hospice worker left, my daughter and her fianc? arrived from Arizona. My daughter got to speak with him for a few minutes, while he smoked one last cigarette. Then, he hugged her and said he was tired. He said he wanted to take a nap and would talk with her more later. She hugged him, and he said he loved her. As she and I left the room, I called back and said, "Love you, Babe!" Those were the very last words we ever exchanged. He laid down to take a nap, and quietly slipped into a coma sometime after that.
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

Mr C

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2015, 03:47:30 AM »
L, There is so much love in the stories you have been sharing about you and your Kenneth. Sending you (((hugs))) as you go through the next couple days.
Mrs.C, You have been my Sweetheart, Best Friend and Love since 1987. You will be my Wife forever and ever and ever. Love Always, Mr. C

newnormal14

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2015, 11:34:58 AM »
(((HUGS)))

tmppgh2015

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2015, 12:28:31 PM »
We share an sadiversary! Big hugs to you and I hope you found some peace! I still can't believe its been a year!

lcoxwell

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2015, 08:55:04 PM »
I am now down to today and tomorrow, and then I shall stop posting all the "One year ago today..." updates, as I will have passed the one year anniversary.  It is so hard to believe I have made it to this point.  I never could have survived without all of you, at least not survived with any part of my dignity or sanity intact.  With that being said....

One year ago today, I had entered what I call, "The Death Watch".  When I woke up that morning and could not get him to open his eyes or respond to my voice, I knew that the time had come.  I called home hospice, and they confirmed that he had slipped into a coma sometime between when he laid down to take a nap the night before and that morning.  They offered to come and take care of him, but I told them I would do it, that I would call, if I needed them.  So many times, he had joked that it was just the two of us, against the world.  It just seemed appropriate that it should just be us, at that time.  I felt like I had taken care of him for so many years up to that point, that I wanted to be the one taking care of him in the end, too.  I can't really explain it, other than to say it felt like something I had to do.

A few hours later, his mother, sister, nieces, and nephew arrived to see him, one last time.  I have to be honest, I was horribly resentful at their intrusion.  For years, they hadn't visited him, even when he was in the ICU in the hospital.  They didn't come to the house or invite us over.  They didn't call to check on him.  They gave us no support, whatsoever.  I was angry that they had turned their backs on him, just when he needed his family the most.  I was even angrier that I had called them 5 days before and told them they needed to call him and to visit, because home hospice had been called in and I had been told he would go quickly.  I felt like they should have come sooner, and by waiting, he did not have the chance to see them or know they had visited.

I also have to admit being resentful for the intrusion on my time with him.  Instead of spending the last few hours I had with him, I was having to sit in the other room entertaining them and talking to them, when all I wanted to do was sit by his side, to hold his hand, to kiss his cheeks, and to tell him over and over just how much I loved him.  A part of me felt that they shouldn't be there, that it had just been the two of us and our kids for so long, that it should just be the two of us and the kids in the end, as well.  I wanted to lie down on the bed beside him, with my head on his chest, just listening to him breathe, without having to hear their voices in the other room.  As selfish as this may sound, I was happy when they decided to leave, so I could just focus on him.

Some time late that evening, after everyone had gone, I had a call from a dear friend across the country.  He had called to check on Kenneth and on me.  During that conversation, I mentioned that I felt like Kenneth was holding on for some reason, like he was waiting on me to give him permission to let go.  I remember just sobbing into the phone and telling my friend that I just couldn't bring myself to say the words, though I knew I needed to.  I knew Kenneth was waiting on me, that he wouldn't leave, until he knew I was ready to let him go.  My friend told me it was alright, if I couldn't say the words yet, and offered prayers for strength.  I am so thankful to my friend for lifting me up in prayer at that moment.

Throughout the night, I barely slept, afraid that if I closed my eyes, he might slip away from me, and I wouldn't know it.  I wanted, needed, to be there for his final breath.  To this day, just one day shy of that one year anniversary, I still feel like the only reason he made it through that night, was because I hadn't found the courage to tell him it was okay to die.
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

Jen

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2015, 09:04:32 PM »
Nothing you describe is selfish in the least. I'm furious with them for interrupting your time with your sweet Kenneth. They should have been there sooner, absolutely.

I'm lighting a candle tonight for you and for him. Never forgotten. I promise.

(((((HUGS))))))
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other. ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Dying is easy. Living is hard. ~George Washington, Hamilton

lcoxwell

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2015, 10:18:37 PM »
((((Jen))))  As always, you have just the right words to make me feel better.   :)
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

widowat33

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2015, 10:43:54 PM »
Thinking of you.
I believe he lasted that night because you weren't ready to say goodbye too, but not because you didn't have the courage to do it..trust me from reading your posts you certainly don't lack courage. I can't even imagine the strength you have! I don't think we are ever ready to say goodbye, but not because we aren't strong, but because we love them so much. At my dh's funeral in my speech I said that I would never say goodbye, just see you later.
Sending you hugs!

Tweety76

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2015, 04:36:12 AM »
I am now down to today and tomorrow, and then I shall stop posting all the "One year ago today..." updates, as I will have passed the one year anniversary.  It is so hard to believe I have made it to this point.  I never could have survived without all of you, at least not survived with any part of my dignity or sanity intact.  With that being said....

I'm right behind you few days and even the "one year ago today" has not started as strong as it was at 6 months mark, I do think what happened today a year ago briefly every morning. I too am amazed that I have made it this far with my dignity and sanity not really intact but rebuilt and stronger than ever. I feel like Rocky running the stairs while training for the big match from time to time.

What a lovely friend you had supporting you the way he did a year ago. And you weren't by any means selfish back then. Sending you tight hugs!!!!!!!

Carey

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2015, 10:34:25 AM »
There are no words of comfort as you know.  But I admire your strength and wanted you to know that.  I'd also like to kick your DHs relatives in the ass. ;)
I can't look at the stars they make me wonder where you are. 
Stars.... up on heaven's boulevard
And if I know you at all
I know you've gone too far
 So I .... I can't look at the stars --Grace Potter

lcoxwell

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2015, 11:52:48 PM »
I'd also like to kick your DHs relatives in the ass. ;)

I have to admit, this made me smile, just a bit.  ;)
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

lcoxwell

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2015, 12:53:45 AM »
As I have said so many times before, thank you all for the support and for helping me to make it through these last few days.  I have wanted to make this post about my Kenneth's final day, all day long, but have been struggling to find the right words.  I am not sure that I will be able to express this as clearly as I would like, but here goes....

One year ago today, after being up nearly all night long, due to the need to watch him and to take care of him up to the very last minute, as well as the fear of closing my eyes and not being "present" at the moment he took his very last breath, I finally drifted off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.  I think I really just collapsed from shear exhaustion, in all honesty.  About an hour or so later, I woke up once more.  It was around 5:30 or 6:00 am, when I opened my eyes.  Thankfully, he was still breathing those slow, shallow breaths, that only those in a deep sleep or comatose state breathe.  I remember feeling such relief that he was still there, but there was also a part of me that knew, KNEW, that it was only a matter of time, and he would be gone.  I knew he would not make it through the day, and suspected he only had a few hours, or maybe minutes, left.

Much of my struggle from the night before, of when and how to give him permission to move on, was still there.  I don't know if it was the prayers of my dear friend the night before, if it was the many hours of prayer I had personally prayed throughout the night, or if it was the realization that he had suffered long enough, but there was a bit of resolve that I needed to somehow find the courage and the strength to tell him he could let go.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't just tell him it was alright to die.  I couldn't tell him he it was time.  For about an hour, I tried to will the words to come out of my mouth, but I just couldn't say them.  What I could do, though, was to lie down next to him on the bed, to put my head on his shoulder, to place my hand on his heart, and to tell him through my tears that I would be okay.  It hurt like hell, and I am not sure I really believed it, but I knew he needed to hear it.

After spending a few minutes lying next to him, just feeling his warmth next to mine and watching him, I went to tell our two youngest, "The Boy" and "Nutmeg" (as my Kenneth called them), as well Nutmeg's fiance, all three of whom had stayed up throughout the night and helped me keep "The Death Watch", that it wouldn't be much longer.  Then, I returned to sit by his side and pulled out the laptop, so I could write lesson plans for the sub, and so I could contact my son's school to let them know he wouldn't be in school that day.  As I was constructing the email for my son's school, I was listening to Kenneth's every breath, acutely aware of every single one that entered his lungs.  At some point, I noticed the breaths were coming just a bit slower.  I listened to one breath, then the next, then I heard a little "catch" in his breath - a small, minute sound, but that sound spoke volumes - and then, there was nothing, just complete silence.

I looked over at him, holding my own breath, willing him to take the next breath, but there was nothing, just utter silence, and I knew that he was gone. I looked up at the clock.  It was 7:41 am.  My first thought was to lie down beside him once more, and to tell him, yet again, that I would be alright and to tell him I loved him.  I also thanked him for loving me and my kids and for giving us a good life.  My second thought was that I wasn't ready.  I had known for years that that moment was going to come, and I thought I had made peace with it.  I had spent a week, waiting for that moment, saying my goodbyes, telling him I loved him.  I thought I was ready to let him go, but at that moment, my thought was, "I am not ready.  I still need you."  I guess, no matter how prepared we think we are, we are never truly ready for that moment, when we lose the most important person in our lives, whom we have loved so completely.

I remember noticing, somewhere in the back of my mind, that it had been less than an hour, since I had told him I would be okay.  It was the words he had been waiting for, the words he needed to hear, and once those words were spoken and he had permission to move on, he finally stopped fighting to stay alive.  I also remember going into the other room to tell the kids that Kenneth was gone and calling home hospice to tell them he had died.  They came in, took care of Kenneth's body, and made arrangements for the funeral home to come pick him up.

We were given a few hours to sit with him, before they had to take his body away.  My son, who is our quiet, stoic, sensitive one, stayed in his room with the door closed.  He couldn't bring himself to come in and sit with his dad or us.  He couldn't share his pain, so we left him alone and gave him the time he needed.  My daughter, on the other hand, who had wanted so badly to have her dad at her wedding, to give her away, and to be a part of the ceremony, decided that he had to be a part of her special day, somehow.  So, while we sat there, waiting for them to come take him away, we planned the wedding.  She and I sat on the bed beside him, talking about all those little details that go into the planning of a wedding and sharing memories of him.  We laughed, we cried, we mourned.  Those few short hours passed so quickly, but I shall always cherish the time spent with my daughter, planning her wedding and talking about him, as we kept our vigil by his side.
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

Trying

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2015, 06:42:01 AM »
Thank you for sharing Kenneth's final day.  So much of it echoes my final day with Tim.  As difficult as it was and still is there is something truly beautiful about being here to help ease the passage of your love, give them the comfort they need as they leave us and hold them as they take their final breath.  To me it was a gift, not only my final gift to him but a gift to me.

Wishing you peace today.
You will forever be my always.

Carey

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2015, 08:17:44 AM »
I'm not just saying this .. tears are literally flowing as I read this. What courage and strength and what a wonderful wife you are to him. It sounds utterly heartbreaking, but in another way, a gift.  To be able to know that everything had been said that needed to, that he knew how you felt, he knew you were there, those were priceless days and I am so glad you have taken the time to write them. Your writing speaks volumes of the love between you and your Kenneth. I was just thinking, we should have a section of this board for those who KNOW they are about to be widowed. It would be of immeasurable comfort I would think.  Warm hugs to you today, I know you're spent from the sheer mental and emotional exhaustion from the remembrance.
I can't look at the stars they make me wonder where you are. 
Stars.... up on heaven's boulevard
And if I know you at all
I know you've gone too far
 So I .... I can't look at the stars --Grace Potter

Stargazer74

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Re: Continuing My Beginning of the End Thread
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2015, 10:28:46 AM »
I will echo what Carey said.  You brought tears here too.  Your love for Kenneth comes through so clearly and gently.  I am sorry for all that you have had to endure.
?Knock and it shall be opened.' But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac??
C.S. Lewis

?Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.?
C.S. Lewis