My husband, Michael, passed away in his sleep on April 11.
It's taken me nearly a week to have the courage to get on-line and blog about it.
Last Sunday was a rough day for him. I planned on attending the International Quilt show in Cincinnati, but his breathing and stamina were so poor, I hesitated to leave him.
"You've been looking forward to that show for over a year," he stated, "Go, I'll be fine." He insisted I leave, so I did. I drove home at 2:30 and returned to his room. He woke up and yelled at me, "I thought I told you to go to that show!" I did, I explained, you've just been sleeping the whole time. We laughed a bit about that.
Then about 6 pm, he went into respiratory distress and asked for me to phone Hospice. The emergency nurse arrived and together we got Michael back into his normal breathing pattern and comfortable. It was the worst attack I'd seen. But, he seemed OK. At 10, he wanted something to eat; he had not eaten all day - just didn't feel up to it. I told him I would fix whatever he wanted or even go out to fetch a meal. He wanted rice pudding and toast - two of his favorites.
I delivered the meal to him in bed and he turned on the telly - there just happened to be a show on PBS about the Orient Express. He was happy - his favorite comfort foods and a train show. "Go on to bed," he ordered. "You have work in the morning."
"Are you sure you'll be all right," I asked.
"Go!" he said "I'll be all right," and he smiled and waived bye-bye to me.
The next morning, I got up, started a pot of coffee and made a cup of tea for Michael. I opened the door to his room and could tell at first glance he was gone. I called out his name three times, no response. I started to get a bit shaky, but I knew what I had to do. Phoned Hospice, the on-call nurse was here in ten minutes, listened to his chest and confirmed that he had passed on probably around 4 am. The respiratory attack the previous night probably weakened his heart, already compromised by congestive failure, and he died in his sleep.
The rice pudding was gone, but the toast was untouched and the television was still on. He probably fell asleep and just never woke up.
I don't remember who I phoned first. My mom, brother, work, my friend Diane, my son and Michael's ex-wife. My brother was already with a patient in surgery, but he left as soon as he was done. Mom and my step-dad made the four hour journey and were here by 3. My dear friend, Diane, was here by 10. What a comfort they all were and still are! Pastor Tom and his wife were here at 3 - my sister-in-love phoned them. Michael's ex had just made plane reservations to be here for two weeks to help me care for Michael. I asked her to cancel those and please visit another time. She phoned all of Michael's children for me and his mum too. Andrea was here also and was a huge help keeping the pets happy, answering the phone and door. It was a flurry of activity all week.
We had a luncheon here at the house yesterday in Michael's honor. We shared a lot of happy tales, celebrated his life and comforted each other. It's how he wanted it.
Now, his ashes are on their way to his son who will host a memorial for Michael in England. Again, just what Michael wanted.
I went to church this morning, thanked my wonderful Sunday School class for catering the meal yesterday. During the service this morning, the church organist - an extremely talented musician - the pianist, the bell choir and the chorus performed "To God Be The Glory". It was by far the most beautiful rendition I've ever heard of that hymn. Until then, I had held off my tears, but mid-performance, the tears tumbled out of my eyes. A combination of joy in the glorious music and a celebration that Michael is in heaven. My friend, Donna hugged me and we both said how appropriate it all was.
Throughout everything this week, I knew Michael was and is all right. And so am I.