After making his choice, Michael worked half days. Passing off his life’s work to others was important to him. He wanted it done right. After about a week he could no longer drive and took to our bed. He was fairly self sufficient and I continued to work. About a week later I received this email, “You will have to make sure to be home to let the hospice nurse in at 5:30. I can’t make it down the stairs anymore. I am sorry.”
Things were moving quickly, but we did have enough time to plan an open house. Lisa, my best friend, and her husband came down from Baltimore. We also got help from good friends Jen and Tim along with my sister Alice and Michael’s brother Andrew. It was a good thing too. 138 people showed up! There was a line that started at the staircase, ran down the hall into the kitchen and out the back door. Jen became ‘the hostess’ so folks did not have to wait in line. She made a list and sent folks upstairs in groups of 5 and 6.
And there was lots of food! It was so crowded Lisa was trapped at the kitchen sink. She told me later that at one point she had to go to the bathroom but couldn’t make it out of the kitchen. So she just kept doing dishes and after a while, she said, “It just went away!” I was not really aware of any of this at the time. I generally stayed by Mike’s side, in our bedroom, making sure he had an advocate with him at all times during this, what my sister was now calling, a “Living Wake”.
Michael was in total control that day. He passed on his meds to make sure he would be present for everyone. As 3:00 approached, our cut off time for all visitors, Michael asked how many were left. About 15 we told him. “Send them up in two groups,” he commanded. “I want to make sure everybody gets seen.” After the last group left I took a private moment to clean him up and give him his morphine. He wanted to thank everyone personally for their help so he asked the 7 of us to come up and be with him as he fell asleep. I asked him how he thought the day went. Michael thought for a long moment. “It was like a real tough football game…but we won.”
“Get some rest.” I told him. “You don’t have to do anything else. It is all done. I love you.” “I love you too,” he said as he slipped off to sleep. That was Saturday. He slept straight thru Sunday. On Monday, after Alice and I changed his sheets, I kissed Michael and told him I loved him. “I love you too”, he said. These words seemed to come from another place. Not from Michael. Not from this room. “Alice, did you hear that?” We were amazed as we wept. Somehow we both knew these might be his last words. The next day Michael died.
Even after the sudden loss of my husband to illness – call me Anne Frank – I still believe the universe is a friendly place. Just like I made sure my husband was totally supported and loved, I believe, when we work with it, the force that governs our universe does the same for us!
Ours was not a special brand of Courage. We had only an average every day every man’s kind of Courage. We had the Courage to chose to allow the present moment to just unfold…without judgments and without expectations. We had the Courage to give up the need to know what tomorrow looks like
You don’t have to have a terminal illness to be Courageous. I believe if you choose to live in Einstein’s friendly universe and from this you begin to cultivate an unconditional Trust that you are always safe and all your needs will always be met you will be living a Courageous life.
What kind of Universe do you live in?
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