06 May 2008

Barbara

My cousin's wife died this morning after a lengthy and painful illness. I don't think she was quite 40. They didn't have any offspring, so he's basically alone in his grief. He has siblings and parents, and she did, too, but...

For the past fifteen years he's been the primary caregiver for his wife - she's had numerous strokes and other ailments. Toward the end, she could barely talk. She became almost child-like.

About three weeks ago, she entered the ICU. Yesterday or the day before, she was placed on a respirator. He had the sole responsibility of deciding whether or not she would or could remain there. It took him 24 hours to realize she'd already left; only her shell remained. Her heart stopped beating thirty minutes later.

Now comes the hardest part. Going home alone.

I cannot imagine what it'd feel like to have the one you love at your side 24/7, totally dependent on your care and love for over fifteen years ...

And then, not.

What does it feel like to walk alone into a home you've shared with someone for so long? How empty the halls must feel? How big the bed...  how loud the silent echoes...
How lonely and barren... and cold the rooms... and knowing the biggest part of what took up your life for the past fifteen years is gone. Just gone.

I know people who've been married for a substantial time feel the same in many respects, but to be the one who cleans, washes, combs, dresses, feeds... what do you do with your time, now? What busies your hands? What settles your mind when you start to think of all the 'should have dones' and 'could have dones' and 'maybes?' With whom do you quietly sit now? Now that your 'purpose' for living the past fifteen years is gone with that last beat of her heart?

I cannot imagine.
My heart is broken for him.
...

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pass the popcorn, please!