20 Days Before His Death

I'm not really sure why I'm sharing these vignettes. Maybe so you know me, know him? I think that somehow if you know us, his death will mean something more to you. And if it means something more to you then it will, in a weird way, not be such a loss. Another widow friend of mine calls this Widow Mouth. It's when a widow shares the whole story of how she became widowed over and over and over again, all details included, in an effort to make it more real, or less hurtful or ________ (fill in your reason here). But the real purpose of Widow Mouth is to feel more at peace.

In the retelling of this story I see now the signs that he was not doing well. I didn't see them then. I saw life and fight and being cancer free. In re-reading these posts I now see death and discouragement and tiredness.
 
Our story, in it's retelling, brings me closer and closer to some weird sense of acceptance. He's not coming back. Every time I tell it, I feel that and it becomes less and less terrifying. It makes sense of the senseless...sometimes.
 
---
March 26, 2009
A Visit To the Cancer Center
20 Days Before His Death
11_01_09.jpg
Yesterday, I was afraid of Art.
He had a PetScan.
We arrive
and wait
for wheel chair transport, compliments of the Cancer Center, to take us to the imaging Mark Taper Imaging Center.
At Taper Imaging,
we wait…
and fill in paperwork.
We move to the you-are-responsible-to-pay-for-uncovered-costs-associated-with-this-procedure-sign-here window.
We move to the waiting room with the TV that no one is watching
And wait.
We are led to a small, muted yellow toned room where they remove, from a lead lined cylinder, radioactive material. The nurse injects it into his just-put-in-for this-procedure IV line.
We are led to a purple waiting room with semi-comfortable chairs where…
he moves from the wheel chair to the semi comfortable chair.
I wait for him and
we wait
for an hour.
They come for him.
The nurse we know. She is sad to see him again, looking unhealthy.
We wait
for Art to get back into the wheel chair. He and the nurse leave.
Art waits in a tube that takes pictures of him, six inches at a time.
I wait in the purple room.
He and the nurse return.
Three hours have passed since we have arrived.
We wait for the elevator to go to the cafeteria.
He waits…
at a table while I get lunch.
We go to the Cancer Center to have his picc line cleaned.
He waits.
I wait
and worry. He is looking uncomfortable and is telling me he doesn’t want to wait anymore.
I insist we wait.
He insists we go home.
I debate. Infected Picc line? Clogged Picc line means new picc line on Tuesday or worse another hospital stay.
He starts to get mad.
I hold my ground.
I offer my lap, where he can lay his head and sleep.
He sleeps.
11_01_09_1.jpg
I wait.
Nurse comes.
She waits while I rouse him.
He sits up, he gets his bearings
The nurse leaves. I wait 20 minutes before he can move to the wheelchair.
11_01_09_2.jpg
I wheel him into the Picc line cleaning room.
We wait for the nurse.
He gets weighed. 160lbs!!!!! only on his 6'6" frame.
We wait for the nurse.
He gets mad.
“I’m not waiting.” he says.
“We need to leave!” he says.
I ignore him.
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I try to find the nurse.
“We need to do labs on him.” She says.
“I am waiting for doctor’s orders.” She says
He raises his voice to me.
“I’m not staying. We need to leave…now.”
I think “Who the hell do you think you are?”
He raises his voice to the nurse, “I am not waiting for labs.” He blusters.
I leave the room.
And I see that I am afraid.
Afraid of his anger, afraid of what it says about me. I take on its message, believing that it speaks the truth.
"Unworthy."

11_01_09_4.jpg

 it says.

"Not good enough!"
it screams.
Later,
I am either brave enough to look at it
Or too exhausted to care.
Either way, I know, the anger was lying.

I am good enough.

I am worthy too.

The cancer has made that clear.

And so has he.


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