Saturday, July 25, 2009

First anniversary of Robert's death

"Will you be able to say goodbye when it's time?" I asked Robert softly, holding his limp hand in both of mine.

I couldn't tell if he was thinking about his answer, or drifting in and out of consciousness, or even if he had heard me.

"No," he said finally, without opening his eyes.

It was a few days before Robert died last August 2, and we both knew he was close to the end. Hospice -- such wonderful people! -- kept him painfree as his bones deteriorated and his body processes shut down. He drifted between asleep (or unconscious) and half-awake, sometimes painting in the air with his fingers, sometimes thinking it was time to go to dance class or out to lunch (though he hadn't been out of bed or eaten for a week), occasionally jumping into clarity for a few precious moments.

As Robert's cancer progressed, I felt trapped in a nightmare that I couldn't escape or rescue my beloved Robert, who was slipping away from me day by day, hour by hour.

Now, though, I am grateful that I was able to share this profound transition with him. I learned a lot about death that I never knew, never imagined. I also learned how love wins somehow, even at the end. Robert was rarely conscious over the last few days, but when he was, he murmured love to me.

Thank you, readers, for sharing with me the exhilaration and sensuality of our great love affair and far-too-short marriage. It feels right to share this part with you, too.

(Photos by Robert's son, Mitch Rice. Thank you, Mitch.)

1 comment:

  1. Joan,

    I know the pain of losing the love of your life. I believe that Robert will always be with you. Every time I see the photo of him in your dance class, with his arms out, like a graceful bird ready to soar, I smile. You were indeed blessed to have found each other and to have fully lived each day with love.

    I also made the decision to place my Gordon in hospice care. I will always be grateful for the compassion and love of the hospice workers who eased his path to death.

    Just a word of advice: no matter how healthy you are at present, it is wise to put your legal affairs in order. Prepare a living will with clear orders regarding your wishes as to any medical decisions which may have to be made and designate the person you wish to make those decisions.

    One last thought: I know in my heart that Gordon would not want me to stop living and loving. As I write about my adventures in online dating and dealing with my everyday life, I often feel him looking over my shoulder and laughing. Our hearts do go on!

    Light & Love,

    Granny Boogies

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