The hospital bed in the living room has now become a part of the furniture of our daily life, I am sure it will seem empty once the regular hiss and whirr of the pump, the three hourly turn, check and change and the life within, that is clinging on against all odds, is no longer there.
It is seven days since we brought him home, having been told he had mere hours left we knew having him home with us was what we wanted to do. To get him away from the negativity surrounding the nursing home and into some fresh clean air. Back to the home he loved. The infection he left with soon cleared up returning his temperature to normal but there is no recovering from dementia.
Seven days; In life he did everything slowly, why would I think he would be any different in death?
Seven days in which two hours of sleep has been an oddity and 30 minute snatches the norm. Not least due to our fear that he could die at any moment but also to the need to turn him every few hours to prevent painful pressure sores.
Seven days in which we have barely left his side. Eating, chatting, sleeping within an arms reach. The eating had been a challenge for me, (well yes all of it has been a challenge) but eating by a man who has not eaten in weeks and not had water for over a week did not sit comfortably. I did it at first and then began to eat less and not by his side. Not starving myself, just overtly aware of the results of consumption. His body shrinking by the hour.
Seven days in which nothing seems normal and nothing seems bizarre. I am not sure I am thinking straight, not sure I am capable of it having gone so long on so little sleep. I feel hungover, not that I’ve had anything to drink. Numb and in control, going through the motions, waiting but not waiting. You can’t rush death without taking it into your own hands and none of us have any interest in doing that.
His stopping breathing has become more regular, for him a peaceful step on his journey, for us a heart stopping, adrenaline pumped few minutes, and then he starts again. He hasn’t focused for weeks, in the most recent of these episodes his eyes opened wide, we looked wild eyed at me for several long moments, lucid and bright. The nurse rushed to get my mother (we have gratefully received the support of a respite nurse for two of the long nights) and his breathing returned to normal.
Make no mistake I do not want him to die (regardless of the fact it is clearly imminent), we will be with him until the end however long away that is, but these false starts, these poison darts of grief are a cruel trick on natures behalf.