Not that I fear death nor do I forget that this is a sensitive subject. This is particularly something that is on my mind since my husband passed away on December 7, 2017. There is only so much that one person can do by themselves and everyone expects them to hold it together. My stepson and a brother-in-law have been helping me with the details.
Well, we are burying him in his hometown of Fairbury, NE two days after the memorial, those were his last wishes. Therefore since I don’t have a car anymore, and I was in an extreme state of emotional turmoil these were the reasons that kept me from making another simple decision. Whether I could drive myself up there and/or stand this emotionally, I needed someone to tell me what to do. I could not make another decision on my own. My wonderful step son added his opinion and tried to help me make a decision.
I finally did make the decision not to go. I knew that because of his gentle nature Bill would have held me in his arms and told me not to go because of how difficult this is on me and this would upset me further. He would tell me the final decision would be mine.
I knew that this will be the final goodbye to my dear faithful husband and best friend of 30 years. They would take his body in the form of ashes and bury them next to his mother. (Genesis 3:19 “you will eat bread* until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust, you will return.”) I could not say another goodbye to him; only memories of him are left in the people’s hearts and minds who knew and loved him. Nothing of him remains but he is in Jehovah’s memory. My memories of him will always be of a soft-spoken man with a gentle nature and a heart of gold who took care of me and loved me dearly and all of his family the same.
Bill didn’t trust people since he had been hurt many times, but he always ended up forgiving them but never told them that he was hurt by them. I loved him very much and will until I too only exist in the dust. You’d think that there would be no more to say after a person dies, but that is when the thoughts of him and the pain of losing him are still raw. Everyone feels that way when they lose someone. I try to remember only the good things, but the sad things intrude into those good things.
One of the sad things I remember is that the more weight he lost, the more his bulging discs hurt him. He hurt so much that even the morphine didn’t touch it. Then I try to ease that pain with the thought of how I cared for him at home for as long as I could. He was taken away from me and placed in the nursing home when the social worker told me I couldn’t take him home. She said that it takes two people around the clock to care for him at that stage and I couldn’t even take care of him now.
Oh, I did cry some but had much work to do. It’s strange, and I believe that it’s true for everyone. You don’t begin to truly let the death of a person feel real. So far everything has been surreal. That is until everyone has left. Then the loss of that person begins to sink in. I feel it sometimes, but not all at once.
I’ll start to say something and look at Bill’s empty chair before I remember that he is not there and I stare at it for a few moments until I realize that he won’t be sitting in it anymore. I can’t share the beautiful sunsets with him, or explore the woods and find a strange tree that grows thorns, a tree that has a huge middle and the rest of the tree is thin, or go for a walk hand in hand.
There is a side to this that I feel free of, and that is dealing with mom’s Alzheimer’s, and then Bill’s dementia. This is difficult to admit and not everyone can do that. I feel as if a hundred-pound weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can sit and write and not have to worry about the needs of someone else. I can come and go as I please with no one to answer to. At least I can truly say that I have no feelings of regret. There was nothing left unsaid, and no doubts about the care I gave him and that he got at the nursing home.
Even when people do have feelings of guilt, there is nothing you probably could have done better or different from what you did. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. That does not make you a bad person or an inadequate caretaker. Today I feel okay, I’ve cried some, but that may never go away, and if I shed a few tears each day, even that is okay with me.
In closing the series of the Face of Dementia, I can honestly say that I know I’ve helped some people. One person told me that I should write my own story from how there was no love in our family and from a shy child who couldn’t talk above a whisper for fear she would be doing something wrong, to the person I am today. She wanted me to tell how I changed into a confident adult who isn’t afraid to speak up. Maybe I will. I can’t tell you that series would be sullen, but when I look back, I have to laugh at myself for the things I believed to be true.
Well dear readers in closing, when I think of the comments and emails I got from readers who also were glad that I wrote what I was going through so they would know what to expect when their father or mother got to those stages.
Look for the series on my own life. I’m not sure that I have a title yet or that I’ll even write one. I began as an ugly caterpillar and turned into a beautiful butterfly. When I learned to fly a remarkable thing happened.