It’s the beginning of another year. 2018 was the second year without Michael. Now I’m ready to write about the last week with him, May 2016. I think about that last week but more specifically the last day; the last morning. I’ve savored each moment, grateful for each moment.
Mike is home from the Medical University of South Carolina on Monday late. Of course he comes in a medical transport with two gorgeous women. That’s how Michael does it. Bailey was delivered by Moonshadow just in time to welcome him home. The living room was literally transformed in an hour thanks to a wonderful neighbor helping to carry the couch to the garage and a chair back to the living room. My grandmother’s quilt is just the right touch to the hospital bed. I’m as ready as I am going to be for what is to come because I really have no idea of what is ahead of me. I just know that it is important and that I must stay focused. I must be present.
Monday night with Mike and Bailey. It’s Dancing With The Stars night. We loved this show. All night long I would say to Mike, “ I love you!” And he would respond, “I love you, too!” Over and over this night was one of “I Love You’s!” For that I am forever grateful.
The hospice nurse arrives to do the long entrance examination this morning. As I walk her to her car I tell her that Mike’s daughters should arrive by Thursday. She exclaims that I must call them immediately. It is imperative that they get here quickly. I’m shocked but call them and get the ball rolling. There is no time to cry. There is no time to feel sad. The daughters are on their way.
The second night is different. This night Michael wakes up and calls for me around 2:00 AM for help. It’s not good. I mean it is really scary bad and I am all alone. Thankfully I now have the Hospice 911 number. I call that number and immediately I have a friend, no I believe it was an Angel. She coaches me how to give him the morphine. She calms me down by breathing with me. It is so hard. It is freaking so hard and I am all alone. Bailey is right beside me as this Angel talks to me for probably an hour. Mike has fallen asleep. His daughters are on the way and should arrive in the early morning. I finally fall asleep.
I wake up and Michael is sleeping with Bailey by his side. The Hospice nurse arrives at 8 AM and to my astonishment he tells me that Michael is in a coma. I thought he was sleeping. My world turns upside down again. How many times can the world be turned upside down? I call JWF, my youngest. Please come and hurry!
Bailey never leaves his side!
Bailey never left Michael!
So Michael is in a coma. Michael is dying. This is real. It’s happening and I am in uncharted waters. I call our closest friends. I call his precious speech therapist. I call our neighbor. Each of them come. And with each visit peace, acceptance and gratitude appear. Our closest friends arrive. We circle the chairs around Michael’s bed. I turn on our favorite music. We pour drinks and for 3 hours we tell stories. We remember the good times together. We laugh and we cry. Peace, acceptance and gratitude visit.
JWF arrives around midnight. I am keenly aware of how grateful I am for his presence. I sleep beside Michael all night and wake up early. It’s just Bailey and me awake and I realize that there is a sweet moment here. I quickly make a cup of coffee and download Cat Stephen’s Morning Has Broken. I take Michael’s hand and sing this lovely song and watch the sun rise holding Michael’s hand. I memorized this moment. It’s Thursday morning.
Thursday morning, the Hospice nurse calls to ask if she can come by in the afternoon and give Michael a bath. I am thrilled at this opportunity. Michael was a fastidious man and he loved his clothes and shoes. He’s a good looking man! Maybe this is why he hasn’t left us? He doesn’t look like Michael. So another Hospice Angel arrives and together we shave his beard, wash his body, his hair and slather cream over his whole body. We change him into a pink shirt. Oh he always looked so good in that pink shirt! Thank you to my Mom for teaching me how to say good bye in this special way!
His daughters and JWF return to the house and we begin to notice that his breathing has changed. It is noticeably different. We surround him and hold hands. Each of us begins to spontaneously share something that we loved about Michael. Slowly, slowly his breathing is shallow and then he is gone. Just like that he is gone. We are holding hands, tears streaming down our cheeks with no regard of wiping them away. We are frozen in the moment. I don’t remember how long that moment was. I memorized it as I took in every person in that circle.
Bailey immediately wants down with Michael’s last breath. She knew he was gone.
So a lady from Hospice comes to verify that the death is not suspicious. She does her thing and then calls the Sheriff’s office and then the funeral home is notified. I remind everyone that Michael’s wish was to be cremated immediately. Once the funeral home comes we will never see him again. Now that was hard for me to put my brain around at that moment. No viewing of the body like we do in the South but that is what he wanted. So I asked JWF to find a lovely bottle of wine with enough wine glasses. The funeral home person arrives and we again surround Michael with our wine glasses raised. We toast Michael one last time in this house as they roll his body out of the front door. Good bye my sweet love! I had the time of my life with you!
I keep wondering why I am writing this, especially this post; sharing these moments with the world. First of all I want my grandchildren to know the story, my story. I want them to know who I am. The second reason is that I hope that I can bring some kind of hope and inspiration for someone as they say goodbye to the person that they love so much.
Here are some things to consider:
❤️ Take photos! Take photos of your hands. Paw prints are great!
❤️ Be present! You can never have a do over.
❤️ Remember the good moments and state them out loud.
Morning Has Broken
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rains new fall, sunlit from Heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day
So what are your thoughts? What are your experiences? I believe that we are better together and I love reading other folks stories.
I’ve thought and thought about Michael’s last week and wouldn’t change a thing. I can only hope that JWF was paying attention. I just want lots of Motown Music when I am dying. James Taylor would be welcomed. I want to dance as I leave this world. Cheers to you Michael for teaching me that I am lovable. I really did have the time of my life with you. Oh, that’s another song!
6 Replies to “Last Thoughts For 2018!”
Love this. So nice to read this. I always remember when Michael forced you out of the car to pitch that woman who was the editor of a magazine. It was the first few months of ripple. He could not speak but he spoke and encouraged you to go for it. What a great man
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Oh my goodness! I had forgotten about that! Thanks Margaret for jogging my memory! Love you!
When I think of the lives we’ve had, the experiences – many of them quite difficult – we’ve added to our life resume since that day I whirled you around the old folks’ wing of the hospital in a stolen wheelchair – two bored teenagers dressed in bright Canary Volunteer yellow – I am more than a little bit self-congratulatory (if I am being completely honest) and a great deal proud of you! Mike was a fine man, and a lovely human being. I’m so glad to have met him, however briefly, and I’m so grateful you’ve shared your last moments with him. Big hugs to you always.
Thank you for sharing these beautiful moments with me. I haven’t yet walked this impossibly difficult path, but your story gives me courage and hope that I’ll know what to do when the time comes.
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Ohhh Jessica!!! I love you more than ever and loved reading this with tears in my eyes. The hospice team is full of angels for sure. I wish I would have done any of these things when my Aunt Sandy was taken to Hospice… but shock took over for about a month. Anyway! This is a beautiful way to honor your story and I LOVE that they shaved and dressed him. I will always cherish shopping with both of you and watching him look at you and give his opinion. xoxo