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June 20, 2011

At some point last night, we noticed that Carol’s ankles were swelling. We decided that we had to get her back into the bed. It took all three of us to get her there. She didn’t really fight us but kept saying no. We got her situated but she would not lie back against the mattress, she still wanted to be leaning over. We propped pillows all around her and put one pillow on the table. She was bent over lying across it and looked very uncomfortable to me, but she seemed to be comfortable. Krista stayed with her during the night.

When I woke up this morning I fixed a quick breakfast, took a quick shower, dressed for the day and took over for Krista. She went to her room and slept for a while. Kelly had already left for the day. The rest of the morning was quite difficult.

Janine the bather arrived around 10:45 or so. She needed my assistance in order to bathe and change Carol. We also put clean sheets on the bed. In order to do all of this we had to lay her down flat. She fought us like crazy, thrashing her arms and moaning until I said “You stink. We have to get you clean so you will be ready to go.” She relaxed after I said that and she let us do our job. After we were finished we raised the back of the bed almost straight up and propped pillows around her. She didn’t fight that either. She appears to be comatose. Janine left at about 12:30. I sat in the chair at the end of the bed. I checked my email and then began playing a game on Carol’s laptop. I would look over at her periodically. 

Each time I looked at her, I noticed that she was breathing slower and slower and that her color was changing. She was beginning to take on a pale shade of bluish-purple. I got up, went next to her, and patted her hand. I told her I loved her and even though I was going to miss her terribly it was ok for her to die if she was ready. She was breathing very slowly. The time between breaths became longer and longer. She took a breath and then didn’t breathe again. I called for Krista. She came in and looked at her. We decided that she was still breathing very slowly. She went to the other room, called Kelly and told him to come home. I sat watching Carol. When Krista came back into the room I told her that she had not taken another breath. She was gone. She died at 2:48 PM, PST.

Krista and I stood holding each other, shaking uncontrollably and crying for what seemed like forever. We took one last look and left the room to begin letting people know she had departed this world. My first call was to Hospice and Krista’s was to Kelly. Hospice told me they would contact the funeral home for us but I asked them to wait until Kelly got home. Next, I began the process of calling Mom, Dave, Uncle Lynnes and numerous friends. Aunt Carol Mae, Uncle Lynnes’s wife called Uncle Jimmy and Uncle Delmer for me. Mom called Uncle Jerry and Uncle Bobby. Dave called our children. I’m pretty sure I called others as well but I don’t really remember. My mind was jumbled and numb. While I was making calls Kelly came home. He ran straight up the stairs. When he came back downstairs we held each other sobbing. Krista soon joined us. The three of us just held each other and cried for a while then one of us made another phone call to Hospice, I don’t even remember who.

Krista had texted several of their friends and they were beginning to gather outside where Krista was sitting on the porch. Kelly joined them and I continued with the phone calls I had not made yet. Pretty soon Kelly came inside and got a bottle of scotch and went back outside. Pretty soon Stacey came in and got the big bottle of scotch and a funnel.  I had to laugh watching her pour it from the big bottle to the smaller bottle. She said something about the big one looking ghetto or something along those lines, I don’t remember. Kelly came in and asked me to join them outside. They were going to toast Carol and he wanted me to join. I went outside and there was quite a little group gathered around. Kelly said something, I don’t even remember what and then he passed the bottle around and we all took a swig. I am not a drinker. It burned all the down! We stood talking for a while and then I went back inside to finish my calls.

While I was on the phone the funeral home came to get Carol. They were very tender and kind. They told Kelly what they were going to do, how they were going to do it and suggested that we might not want to watch. I went to the backyard and sat on the patio. Kelly went back out front. He came and got me a little later and said they were gone and I could come back out front if I wanted. During all of this we forgot to call the harpist and tell her not to come. Apparently she showed up just after the funeral home arrived. Kelly felt really bad but later in the evening it provided a chuckle for all of us.

The rest of the afternoon and early evening was a giant blur. I’m not really sure what happened. I felt numb. At some point I went back outside with everyone else. I could not bring myself to go back upstairs the rest of the day.

We ate dinner on the patio with the neighbors but I’m not sure what it was that we ate. I do remember the brownies. Chocolate is the universal comfort food! We sat and talked, laughed and cried until pretty late. I finally decided that I needed to go to bed and headed upstairs.

It was so hard to walk by her room. Typically it was lit and either the TV was on or music was playing. Tonight it was just dark and empty.

My heart aches. My head hurts. My eyes are leaking non-stop. We wanted this to end but now that it has, I think maybe we have changed our minds. Maybe. I’m not sure. This is NOT fun. This was the first time in my life I have actually been with someone when they died. I didn’t really know what to expect but I’m not sure this was it. That being said, I feel so blessed to have been by Carol’s side when she died. It was not horrible like I was expecting. It was actually quite peaceful. Oh wait, isn’t that something that people tend to say . . . “they went peacefully.” I guess it is true. One minute she was taking a breath. The next she wasn’t. Just like that (visualize snapping fingers) she was gone. It all seems so surreal. Maybe this is all a dream and when I wake up . . . . . no, it isn’t a dream. I wish it was. My thoughts and emotions are spinning out of control. I feel exhausted and spent.