The day before summer


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The past two weeks have felt like six months. Kevin began hospice two weeks ago Sunday. After over a year of nagging him to try cannabis oil, he finally asked me to whisk him to Colorado to try it. I was willing to move, or simply drop everything and visit Washington a year ago. Only now he’s too weak for the trip. I hope he will forgive me. I hope I will forgive myself for not pushing harder for something I knew in my gut was the right thing to do.

I thought about throwing a mattress in the back of the van and going for it. But things like walking, eating and speaking have declined rapidly each day. By Thursday last week, thanks to brain swelling or stroke, Kevin lost the use of his right arm. By this past Monday his right leg was immobile. If we had indeed gone to Colorado perhaps these cascading changes would have reversed themselves, but at his late stage it’s more likely I would have a partially paralyzed man I couldn’t lift who needed a sponge bath in the back of a van, and who was in tremendous pain. Pot just wouldn’t do.

Instead I’m reading him excerpts from Lorna Byrnes’ books, like Angels in My Hair and A Message Of Hope From The Angels. Lorna, who has seen angels since she was a baby, frankly discusses the hope provided by angels. It is salve for the soul, especially to a sweet, sensitive person like Kevin.

Today marked a day of increasing palliative intervention: a catheter and a pain med pump which delivers Dilaudid in regular intervals. I already mourn the 3-hour breaks when I can speak to Kevin as he takes his meds. As mortified as he is that I must provide personal hygiene help and change chucks and sheets, I look forward to giving him warm baths and gently wash his now-anorexic-looking body. These tender gifts are all I have left. And now these too will be gone.

Kevin liked the stories I read today. He seemed to sleep as I read, but each time I stopped reading he opened his eyes, so I continued for four chapters.

A holy candle burns in our dining room converted to a bedroom. A scented wax candle lends a clean tropical scent, and an oscillating fan blows our nylon, cream colored curtains. They sound like quiet ladies shuffling in ball gowns

Kevin has always had a bit of sleep apnea, but now I count seconds between each breath rather than nudge him in bed like I used to do. How quickly life turns things around.

Some regular things remain. As I write the boys are arguing over a broken xbox microphone. Our trusty dog Joey still dutifully naps beside our bed (even in the dining room). Someone down the street is repairing a loud car. Birds are chirping.

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4 thoughts on “The day before summer

  1. Hi, I was Kevin’s friend Jason’s care giver for almost 2 years. Jason was my son. I know this is a hard time for you but I would not take anything for the time I spent as a caregiver ,yes we lost the baddle but it was wonderful to have him in my life and I am sure you will treasure this time with Kevin. Kevin is so blessed to have you. Pat Ortega

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    • Im so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for your comment. I remember Kevin’s stories about the Ortega family! Adventures, fun and the real difference this family made in his life. I hope you can join us for his memorial later this month in early August in Chattanooga.

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