Today is Dave’s birthday. I am so sad I cannot be with him today but in my heart I know I am where I am supposed to be.

     We ate our breakfast and the process began. I gathered the clothes she wanted and helped her get dressed. Next it was make-up, hair and then jewelry, always the jewelry. Accessories have always been important and now is no different. The whole process took us about an hour and a half. Then it was my turn. Of course, the whole time I was getting ready she kept saying “hurry up, Bob.  Hurry up, Babette. Hurry up.” I finally told her that she took an hour and half to get ready and I needed at least 45 minutes. She was quiet. Is it obvious we are sisters? When I finished getting ready I asked her if she was ready to go downstairs. She said VERY emphatically, “NO!” “Well, alrighty then . . . if that is what you want”, thinking to myself, oh PLEASE you know you want to go downstairs.   

     After having a little snack and a short nap she finally made the decision to go down. I called to Kelly and Krista and the process began. We got the wheelchair and put it close to her bed so she wouldn’t have to walk far and then Kelly pushed her to the top of the stairs as I unfurled the oxygen hose behind them. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall watching. I went down the stairs first unrolling the oxygen hose as I went.  At the top of the stairs Carol decided she would walk down rather than trying the wheel chair again. After a couple of steps she said “I have to sit”. We told her to take her time. She sat a minute and decided she it would be easier if she scooted. She started scooting down the stairs and then she stopped and said “I’m getting a wedgie”. Kelly started laughing and said “a Depends wedgie. Sort of like a thong. A Depends thong”. We all started laughing thinking about Depends thongs, how they would look and be advertised. Again, with the dark humor . . . it keeps us going. 

     Finally, she made it to the bottom of the stairs and we got her in the wheelchair and pushed her toward the sofa. Suddenly she said “STOP!” As I turned to look at her I realized the oxygen line was pulling on her head. Oops! Amazingly, it had reached from the back upstairs bedroom, down the stairs, down the hallway and into the living room. We took the line off so she could settle in to the sofa while Kelly ran back upstairs and brought down the oxygen machine. The sound of the oxygen machine is beginning to become so common that most of the time I really don’t hear it. Once settled, she rested, that was very hard work.

     When Kris and Sean arrived, Carol said wanted to go for a walk. OK. Another ordeal and a different wheelchair, this one holds the portable oxygen tank. I gave her meds first to relax her and help her breath easier and then we discussed how we were going to get her down the three steps at the front door. Kris wheeled her to the door. She stood up, held on to Krista, took a couple of steps to the bench on the porch and sat down. Kelly took the wheelchair to the sidewalk. When she stood up to go down the stairs she did NOT want me to help. At first I was annoyed but then decided she probably felt I wasn’t strong enough or maybe knew that if anything happened I would feel horribe. Kris and Krista helped her down the stairs and helped her get into the wheelchair. I started to push her but she said “NO, Kelly”. Kelly pushed, Kris and Sean walked next her and I followed with Krista and Stacey. Stacey is Kelly and Krista’s friend that lives nearby and is a huge part of their family.  

     It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, warm and sunny. We walked around the block stopping to look at flowers and shrubs along the way. We went to Stacey’s house to see her and Krista’s chickens. Stacey went to the backyard and came around the corner shaking a sack of chicken feed. The chickens were following her like puppies. The cat and the dog just sat there watching nonchalantly. One of the chickens likes to be held so of course, Carol had to pet it. She has always been a sucker for little critters. Mom always liked to tell the story of how she would even play with ants! It was quite comical to watch her holding a chicken and talking to it in the same manner she talks to cats, dogs, and babies. It was a very nice stroll. The weather here is beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold. Today was the first time in three weeks that Carol had been out of the house . . .  actually the first time in three weeks she has been out of her room except to go to the bathroom! She loved it! It made all the struggles of getting her downstairs go away just to see the smile on her face!

     When we got home the ordeal began again. Just going up those three stairs on the porch was so difficult and exhausting for her. It was very hard for me to watch. Seeing someone you love struggle that way is not easy, especially since she has always been so very active. Once she was settled back on the sofa she told us she needed to rest and turned on a movie. Kris and Sean left and Carol slept. I just sat and watched her sleep. Breathing is so very difficult for her, even with the drugs that are designed to help. When she sleeps it does seems to be a little easier for her. I suppose because she is more relaxed.

     Kris and Sean came back a few hours later, as did Rhoda. We ordered out food for dinner and all sat around eating, chatting and laughing. It was such a wonderful evening. It gave the day a sense of normalcy. Then, everyone left and it was time to get ready for bed. It took at least three trips up and down the stairs for me to get pajamas, put away clothes, etc. We both were really tired. Carol did not want to be downstairs alone in case she needed assistance during the night so I stayed downstairs as well. Carol fell asleep really fast. Not me. It is hard to go to sleep. The sound of the oxygen machine, the sound of her breathing, the TV, the sofa, it is all very distracting. Carol likes to go to sleep with the TV on but I think I’ll try to turn it off and see if she still sleeps. It worked! Maybe that will help.

     I missed Dave’s birthday. Well, I sent him a text but that doesn’t really count. I had hoped to get to the store to at least get a card but it didn’t happen. It is hard for me to get away. Carol doesn’t like to be alone and Kelly and Krista both work.  I know Dave understands but I feel like such a terrible wife. Again, my mind wanders to thinking about the important things in life. Today was filled with friends and laughter, important. I am feeling guilty for not getting my husband a card, only important in my mind. The love I feel for my husband, important. Knowing that I am here with my sister in the last months of her life, important. Hmmm, life is fleeting. We never know when it might end. We need to cherish those special moments with our friends and families while we have the opportunity. It was a good day. I wish there could be thousands more of them with my sister. Sadness, again. I don’t want her to die. I want to be able to spend more time with her. Shoot, I’ve just made my day get sad again. God, please help me to sleep tonight.