As I mentioned on my January 1 blog entry, Spouse was terminally ill. And not with Covid — his kidneys were irreparably damaged by medical treatment, and then he contracted an infection that was too overwhelming and he could not survive.
I brought him to …
… a local hospice center for his last five days of life. There, he was cared for gently, as was I. No life-prolonging medical interventions; just comfort care for him and for me.
I am really sad… Spouse died on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, and I was with him until the very end.
Spouse’s last gift is described here:
All day Monday, January 4, the hospice nurses kept telling me that Spouse was “near”. The noise of congestion in his lungs (aka “death rattle”) was getting worse, as well as the number and duration of long pauses of apnea (pauses between breaths.)
By 7:30pm, Spouse was still hanging in there, and I was not going to let go of Spouse’s hand, so I called for the manager of the hospice to ask for permission to stay the night. Permission was quickly granted.
I heard the manager tell a nurse on the way back to her office that she didn’t think I would be staying much longer.But Spouse must have felt my hand holding his hand and may have heard me discuss staying the night. He continued to live on. I asked the nurse to help me set up a bed from a pull-out chair next to Spouse’s bed, grab a padded cushion from a window seat in the room, pile on pillows and raise this “bed thing” to the level of Spouse’s bed. I lay down, never.letting.go.
I pulled Spouse’s favorite ball cap over my eyes and face to block the light kept on in Spouse’s room (and also allow me to breathe by releasing that damn mask!) Amazingly, Spouse’s rattled breathing got more regular and quieter. I.never.let.go.
I kept hold of Spouse’s hand all.night.long. I.never.let.go.
Spouse was quieting himself FOR ME so I could sleep. THAT is just like him — he ALWAYS thought about me and my needs before his.
I think I fell asleep about 10pm. I woke about 2am and needed to pee. I called a nurse and asked for a urinal so I could do what I needed to do without.letting.go. Amazing what you can do one-handed when you have to.
I fell back asleep.
At 6am, I woke when the nurses came in for their regularly scheduled time to adjust Spouse in the bed and give him more morphine. They told me to move so they could get next to him and adjust him. I did… and went to the bathroom for #2. That couldn’t be done in a urinal.
I came out 2 minutes later. The nurses were done. I grabbed Spouse’s hand again and listened … was that apnea causing a long pause before the next breath? Well, there was no next breath. Spouse stopped breathing when I let go. It was his way of “letting go” and not dying while I was in the room.
It truly was his last gift to me. Letting me have one last long night with him, holding his hand. And also, letting go when I left the room for a minute. The hospice people say that dying people do that with their loved-ones. I kinda poo-pooed it, until it happened to me.
Spouse was so peaceful. No pain, no suffering… just what hospice promises.
I made “the” call to my sister and Spouse’s sister. While waiting for my sister to come get me, I held his hand one.more.hour. Until I had to let go… so hard.
Spouse will not have a funeral or memorial service. His body will be cremated and I will scatter some his ashes in a garden in our back yard and the remainder on the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Western Puerto Rico.
Life is short: show those you love how you love them — both in life, and in death.