Monday, 5 May 2008
I guess I should finish.
So, it's 1.30am. You're gone. I don't know what I feel. It's not overwhelming grief. Not yet. It'll come, don't worry. It'll come. But not yet. It's not quite relief, though I guess a little. You're not suffering anymore. We keep saying it, both of us. It's over. She doesn't have to be in pain anymore. She doesn't have to suffer. She was so ready.
We thought we were ready too.
Your eyes are open a little, as is your mouth. I'm pretty unsure whether I'm allowed to do this, but I close them. I don't want Gemma or the others to see that. I want it to be more peaceful for them. Over the past 5 days, Dad and I have managed to shield just about everybody from just about all of the really horrible stuff.
We call the Dr. We've already gone over this scenario, and have a signed letter from Russell, her GP, stating that she had Motor Neurone Disease and that this was expected at any time now. He signed it on Wendesday evening. There's a strange piece of paper to have sitting on your coffee table, by the way.
The on call Dr told us he'd be out in an hour or so. There's no rush, I guess. There's not a whole lot he can do. He needs to pronounce you, and sign whatever it is they sign to allow the funeral home to step in.
We know we aren't really allowed to do anything until the Dr comes. It's hard. One of your final requests, is a bath from Dad and I, after you've gone. We'd had to resort to sponge bathing you for a couple of weeks at that point, as you're completely unable to stand, for more than a few seconds, even supported. You hated the sponge baths. They were excruciatingly painful, no matter how careful we were. And the humiliation was too much for you to bear. Laid out on a bed, naked before us. Tears streaming down your cheeks as we quickly go about our business. Chatting and joking as though we aren't washing away your dignity as we wring the washers out.
But you wanted it to be us. That one last time, you want it to be us that bathes your body and dresses you. We wanted so badly to do it for you, too. At the time, it didn't seem like a strange, or difficult request. Now though, I can't believe I how badly I wanted it to be me.
We closed the door to your bedroom. It's 2am and we quietly shut it. It feels strange, leaving you in there alone. Dad puts the kettle on, and Joel wonders out. He goes in and says his goodbye, the tears freely flowing down his beautiful cheeks. He whispers to her, thanks her. Tells her he loves her, will miss her. I'm not sure what else, to be honest. It was their moment.
I sit with Dad and Joel in the dining room, as we curl around our hot cups of tea. We chat. About stupid things. There is a game of Jenga sitting on the dining room table (left over from some of the visitors earlier in the day, I guess). Absentmindedly, as we talk, we find ourselves fiddling with it. Playing the stupid game.
A knock at the door reminds us of the occasion. God. Were we just laughing? It felt good, but wrong at the same time. We were worried about what the Dr would think. Here we are, having just lost you, and we're laughing. Over a game, of all things. But he can't know. Can't know what a relief it is to have you out of pain. How exhausted we are, in every possible way. How ready you were. He can't know, and there's no point trying to explain. What would he care?
He does what he has to do, and signs the paperwork, so Dad calls the Funeral Home. I send Joel back to bed. There's no point him being up, someone's going to have to deal with Alexander in the morning. Have I mentioned yet, how grateful I am for Joel? How seemlessly and graciously he cared for us all. Xander. Me. Dad. Mum. All of us. He was like the glue. Quiet. Unassuming. Just in the background, ready for whichever one of us would need him. Not once complaining. God, I love him.
We call Gemma and Michael, and they come right over. I'm so glad at that point that I've closed her eyes and mouth, so Gemma is presented with something far better than we are about to be. She goes home with Michael, and it's time.
We prepare the bowls of water just as we had twice a day for weeks gone by. The towels on the bed. Your change of clothes on the duchess.
It's harder than we anticipated. A couple of hours have passed, and you're becoming stiff. In my head, I knew that was going to happen. In reality, dealing with your cold body, beginning to lock in place, haunts me.
We clean your front. I brush your hair, and tie it back for you. It's when we turn it over, that the horror, for me, begins.
The bedsores. They are astonishing. How, in just 5 days, did this happen to you? I know with absolute certainty that they weren't there on Wednesday morning, the last day I'd bathed you. They are truly terrible. I stay strong for Dad. Matter of Fact. I weep on the inside. My mind is screaming, sobbing. I want to hurt myself, more than I have ever wanted anything in my life. I want to inflict pain on myself, to do penance for what I see.
I failed you. Your buttocks and one of your hips, have massive bedsores. They are angry and infected, and beginning to smell. I still smell that. I get flashbacks sometimes, and my treacherous mind revisits that smell, assulting me with it. It sends my body into panic attacks of epic proportions, and periods of such self loathing, I can't bear it.
We finish as quickly as we can, and return to the dining room. More tea, more talk about nothing. I know we discuss funeral plans, though most of it is sorted. The type of funeral you want, we discussed with you. You were very involved in the farewell you wanted, so we're left with simply logistics.
The people from the funeral home arrive. We usher them into you so they can do what they must.
Or not. They return, asking if we would mind giving them a hand. Getting you into a body bag.
Dad goes. I watch. I wish to hell I hadn't. then you're on the stretcher. Another problem. Navigating the hallway, out of the bedroom. It's difficult to do on a gurney.
They miss on the first go, and take a chip out of Alexander's door frame. But soon enough, it's done. And it's time for you to go. Actually, really go. Away from us. On your own.
I feel a rising panic invade me. My heart is in my throat, and I feel it beating, far too quickly. My skin is crawling and I feel my respiration increase. I'm brething too quckly, it's too shallow and I become detatched from myself. I participate in the conversation. i hear myslef. I hear everything else. But it's as though I'm watching it all take place, and am screaming, btu noone hears.
I don't knwo what that was. It's like I'm trapped inside my head, and I can't get anyone to hear me. Just listen. Hear me. Please. Hear me. Anyone. I watch them load you up into their vehicle, and I'm desperately holding on, not letting the tears spill over. Have to be strong for Dad. It's what you want. Have to take care of him. Can't wallow.
You're gone. They drive away and you're gone. We knew it was coming. We were ready. Or you know. Something. But now your gone and the house feels empty. I feel empty. What the hell do I do now?
Dad wants to go tell your parents in person. I offer to come, but he says no. Alexander awakes at that moemnt, so I go in to resettle him.
As he drifts back off to sleep in my arms, the tears begin to fall. For him. For this precious, innocent littl eman, who has no idea he just lost one of the most maazing people he'd have ever known. That he's lost someone who loved him so deeply, adn was so desperate to watch him grow up. The tears fall and holding my son, I sink to the soft carpeted floor. I rock him in my arms, silently crying, the sobs wracking my body.
I stare ahead, as I breath Alexander in. And my eyes are drawn to one spot. The spot in the door frame where they gurney holding your lifeless body, took with it some paint.
I stare at it, I sob, and I say goodbye.
When we moved out of that home, almost two years later, I sat in that same spot, alone this time. I stared at it, I was transported to that moment, with those sounds, and those smells. And I sobbed. And I said Goodbye.
I keep saying it. Why doesn't it ever feel done?
The moment my mother met my son. Etched forever in my mind's eye.