Time Stopped

And has never re started.
15 months and 18 days later...
Cancer took my beloved. It was quick and brutal - for the speed of it, I am thankful. On the 31st March he was playing golf and felt a bit unwell. On the 4th of April, they found a tumour. On the 13th of April he stopped eating. On the 13th of August, he was dead.

So, he died in North London, where the palliative care is the best in the world and so they let him die at home, with me, in our bed.
At 11am on the Friday morning, he became lucid again for the first time in days. "Love, is this it?" Yes my love, but it's ok. If you need to go, I've got everything together. You don't need to be worried or afraid. I'm here and you can go now. "Ok. Love". Then nothing more.
At 3am on Saturday, I woke beside him. Burning like a hot star, burning its last. The great supanova of a life well lived like a furnace beside me. The breath ragged and shallow.
I wet a flannel with cool water and sponged his face, neck and hands. Oh darling. It's alright. You're just so hot now. It's a hot English night in August. I'll open this window. Here, let me put some lavender on your temples. There now....

The nurses could come back for another injection do you think? To ease that rasping rattle? What do you think love?

More cooling water. More lavender.
And the breathing slowed and lost it's desperation. The rattle lifted and became a rhythmic gentleness - the same rhythm that had been my bedmate for these 20 years. The breathing and the smell of him. Mine. Imprinted on me.

I lay down and took his frail body in my arms. Such a big man once. Never fat. Never fat. Solid with a military bearing. Straight backed and impossibly dressed with urbane coolness. A voice like honey. The Scots burr tempered through the Atlantic and a genius IQ. Sharpness and wit, musical and vivid. Not conventionally handsome but possessed of a vibration that found my own. I could still find all this in the shell that was retreating from this world. The essence was still there. I could feel it with every breath I took with him. Each gentle breath.

His head beside mine as we shared the same pillow and the gentle breath, my lullaby, my sound of safety and feeling protected all these years. For safe I felt. And holding him in arms I fell asleep beside him.

I dreamed a little. I dreamed of someone at the foot of the bed. I dreamed peace. I dreamed this was all a dream. Mostly I dreamed calmness and drifting.

Then I awoke.
I awoke because I was cold. So very cold.

I was so very cold because he had become so very cold. My arms were around him still, but the feeling in his skin had changed. It was like ice and his fingers and arms already had stiffened in death.

I lay still. His fingers circled my wrist on his chest. They would not bend. They would not move and I had no interest in moving them. My head against his. I breathed into his ear. Darling are you still here? Darling. Although I knew there would be no answer from him now.

The morphine driver in his stomach clicked again, letting me know that a dose was delivered to keep the pain at bay. The pain that was now gone.

My dear friend staying with me to help us put his head around the door to look at us. I pretended to be asleep. Just a little more time. Just a little until I say the words. Until it is real. Now we are just still asleep together in the early morning half light. Our bodies together. I'll keep you warm shall I? Yes. Here's the blanket. I can reach it and pull it up over us. A little longer...

Here time stopped.
All else that day, the next day, the day after that, the month and the year after that have been a half life. A going through of motions as I wait to join him. I even considered dating. The thought is repugnant and vile.
I had sex with a lesbian. It didn't feel like cheating. It was warmth and comfort. But still vaguely repellant.

I will never suicide. I will never flirt with death to get there sooner.
I will just wait now.
Wait.
I am getting good at the veneer of Getting On With It. But he and I were everything to each other. And I feel nothing on my own.

My other half is gone.

Thank you for reading.

Dennadee Dennadee
41-45, F
1 Response Nov 30, 2012

That was beautiful, the way you wrote it. I lost my hubby to cancer too. I also feel like I'm just waiting, because I won't do anything else. This part too, "I am getting good at the veneer of Getting On With It. But he and I were everything to each other. And I feel nothing on my own." Wow, exactly how I've been feeling. Thank you so much for sharing your story.