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Endings and Beginnings

Last evening my companion and lover embarked on life’s greatest adventure …exploring the afterlife. I’m feeling; well I’m not sure what I am feeling. Numb. Abandoned. Relieved. Anxious. Angry. Exhausted. Lonely. Afraid. Once again, I find myself taking a first step; admitting over and over that I am powerless over almost everything that matters. Like his dying.

Last evening, listening to him stop breathing, then gasping for air in a desperate ripping, tearing cacophony of gurgles and rattles, we all just wanted his struggle to end, but also didn’t want him to die. We willed him release while longing for more time. But, once again, we were not in charge, and we had to admit we were powerless over my beloved’s life and death.

After hospice had come and removed all of the stuff of his illness, the house felt both empty and strange. Just as we were ready to sit down and rest, a looked passed between us and we burst into a flurry of activity. Lost in our grief, we felt compelled to exert some control over our world turned upside down by cleaning and rearranging furniture.

I attended my first 12 step meeting wanting to fix my kids. What I learned is that the only person I can fix is me and no matter what I do, I always have to start with step one…admitting that I am powerless and my addiction to control not only messes me up, but everyone around me as well.

Tonight, our first evening without him, without his wheelchair, walker, hospital bed, urinals, bed pads, and other end of life clutter dominating the space, I find myself wondering how I would have arranged our life if I’d had that option. A part of me wishes I could have prevented him from suffering the ravages of rheumatoid arthritis and the agony that accompanied our family addictions, but then our story and experiences would have been very different. He would be not be the man he came to be; we would not be who we all are today. In our desire to avoid suffering we forget that struggle and suffering enlighten us, gentle us, make us a tad less judgmental, fill us with gratitude.

I remember how my mother wailed in despair “how can I live without Howard?” when my dad died. Now I am wailing, “How am I to live without Earl?” Somehow life goes on, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. For now, it is enough that the girls are here with me. I am surrounded by life and chatter, tears and laughter. We prayed his table grace; “Lord have mercy on us. Keep us safe, sane, sober, and serene. And thanks for this food.” Then we promptly burst into tears.

Yes, the time is fast approaching when I will be alone, but praise be to God, I have a wonderful family, amazing friends, a warm accepting church, my faith, the 12 step program, and a head full of grateful memories. That’s more than enough.

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  • Sad news – all too often. Time is neither your enemy nor friend. Twenty-two years ago it happened to me.

  • So grateful he’s been relieved of the bondage of his physical self and released into the handed of our loving Father God.

    Praying for your comfort during this sorrowful time.

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