Note: B&P Headquarters here: We’re still trying to figure out if/how B&P continues… Here’s one we missed getting out at the normal time.
When Debi died in April of last year, and yes, it is already last year, I had to deal with Death on a personal level. How personal, some of you can imagine, some of you cannot, and some of you will, most certainly. Her brother and I sat down at the kitchen table and created a strategy for what needed to be done, and who would do it, and when. Sheets and pillowcases had to be washed more often now, food had to be prepared, and medication given.
And we would sit at the table, he and I, and for the first month, she would be there with us, and then she wasn’t able to sit in a chair anymore. “Do you know who I am?” I would ask, and she would smile, and tell me my name, then there came a time she would just smile. After she stopped smiling, I knew she was gone.
We had conversations about Death, and what to do with what was left, and then those conversations ended, too.
The last month we were just keeping the systems operating, the treatments ended, likely gone on too long, and the waiting began. Visitors came in, had one sided conversations, and they asked one question: When? And I would tell them what the doctors, and team of doctors, the whole of knowledge that kept the body living, and I would tell people what they said.
The truth was I knew. I knew when she was going to leave because I knew the woman. I remember the way she turned her head to look at me, to say something important, a slight toss of her hair, and the way her shoulders set. All of that was gone, and everything else was, too. No one lived there anymore, and life cannot exist without some machinery to keep the body going if the spirit has already gone.
The day she died, I called her son, but her brother was the first person to arrive. There was an internal debate as to what to say. “She’s gone” was what I had. He made an odd noise, and told me he was on the way. Hospice arrived, and after a few minutes, I left, knowing as soon as I stepped out of her bedroom I would never see her again.
I’m lucky to have had that time. We held hands, talked, shared meals, laughed about the funny things that had happened in those two years we were in love, and we talked about what was going to happen. I’m lucky to have been able to make peace with the process of dying.
We lost Jon suddenly, instantly, and I never got to tell him how grateful I was, and am, for what he had done for me, and for having the partnership in writing we had. I never got to have a conversation about the end, or how he wanted to be remembered, and what for.
I’m sorry we never had a chance to say goodbye. And that feeling is never going to leave me, or anyone else who cared about Jon.