Today is December 30, 2016.
One year ago today, I woke up on day 4 of what turned out to be a 10+day illness. My wife Barbara and I had enjoyed Christmas dinner together in her nursing home room. Due to my being sick, I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, but we had texted back and forth some. The last text from her agreed with me on trashing the part of the Christmas dinner that had not gone into the freezer “except for my cake,” she said.
Later that day, I received an urgent call from the nursing home, telling me she was being sent next door to the hospital because of an incident that might have been a stroke. I rushed up there, despite still being sick, and found that they had her in the ER. After I put on a mask, they let me into her room. Eventually, hours later, they moved her to ICU.
That stroke was the first of two (the second came in March of 2016) and it felt like I lost her that day. The stroke took her ability to speak, write, and read. All of those were such huge parts of who she was and what mattered to her. While there were days when we found moments of hope, it became clear that her warrior spirit was locked in a body prison.
The days and weeks between her stroke and her death will be with me as long as I live. Some of our friends went way above and beyond in helping out, as did family members on both sides. I saw her struggle to communicate and the frustration she felt when her efforts failed. In the end, all I could do was be there for her and take care of necessities she could no longer handle. I hope that she drew some comfort from my work.
On the morning of December 30, I had hope that she would fully recover and return to our life together. By the end of that day, my hope was that I would be up to the challenges that lay ahead.