The Rhythm of Goodbyes~

Our lives, as we care for, and love, Handsome Husband, have taken on a new rhythm.   An awkward rhythm, but still…

Our two sons left for their respective homes in Arizona and Connecticut.  They didn’t want to, of course.  They want to be here when their dad dies.  Our two girls want the same thing, but we had the conversation with them yesterday that it’s time for them to return to their lives.  Jobs, children,partners..life.  Yes, life continues even while their dad is dying.

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Friends have come to pay their respects.  Not in a you’ve already died way, but in a very living way.  Handsome Husband  mentored many young people throughout his military career, and in his ordinary life.  Some of those people traveled from NJ and other places to tell him, again, of their love and respect for him. As I’ve observed them, I’ve also seen that they are, to coin a word, “representing”.   One person is physically standing in front of Handsome  Husband, but the spirits of hundreds are with him or her.  Thousands are standing here with him, writing to him, calling him, telling him how much he has meant to them, and thanking him.  Our younger daughter told me, after a day long visit from 3 of his friends, that it was like having a bunch of big brothers around.  What a comfort that was, she said.

Handsome Husband isn’t going to be here much longer, I sense.  His heart is still strong.  His heart will always be strong, because each beat of it only echoes the love he has always had for me, for his kids, for anyone around him.  No, he isn’t a saint, and he would laugh if you suggested that.  However, I can tell you honestly, dear readers, that his intent, upon meeting anyone throughout his day, was to leave them happier than when he said hello.  He’s a good man.  One of those men of honor and dignity (without being stuffy)!  A man whom many have looked up to.  (yes, that is a dangling participle or something and I find myself not caring in the least).

He’s a favorite with the hospice staff.  No surprise there.  Always polite, always appreciative of the slightest effort made on his behalf.  Each day more effort is required of him as he struggles to maintain a sense of self and freedom, but he  relinquishes small bits of  freedom on a daily basis.  For two nights he slept in a chair, striving to find a comfortable position.  That’s a tough call for him, as he has a tumor around the area of the base of his spine, and it pains him when he sits.  And yet, sit he must, or lose his breath entirely and be overwhelmed with pain from the tumors in his lungs and back.   Now he must sit upright in a bed, however.  In sleep the other night, his body slumped sideways, on his arm, and now his arm is full of lymphedema.  His body is breaking down under the stress of cancer.

Hospice is, thankfully, about pain management, and each day Handsome Husband accepts the increments of upping the levels of medication, as he surrenders just a little bit more to the inevitable.  He had a long career in the military and by training and personality, doesn’t know the word “surrender”.  I’ve suggested to him that maybe it isn’t so much “surrender” as “relax into”.  Take the necessary pain medications, even if it sends him into permanent sleep.  Yes, you’ll be sleeping, and not seeing us, but your sense of hearing will be more acute if not blocked by pain.  Your sense of touch, as we stroke your head or your arms, will be heightened, if you aren’t grimacing with each wave of pain that courses through you.  Your breathing will ease so you won’t be so anxious.

He will miss “us” he tells me, and I agree, my heart shredding to pieces at the thought. I miss him  and I miss “us” already.  The feeling of missing-ness is already acute and growing.  But for now, my love for him is so strong that I want only for him to be out of pain, freed as much from the emotional toll this is taking from him as much as the physical.

Handsome Husband has always been my protector, my defender.  Let me protect you now, I tell him.  I’ve got your back.  I promise you will be pain-free and comfortable.  I’ll be with you to the absolute last-minute until you walk through that veil into the next place you’ll go.  Ride with the lack of pain feeling.  See that open road in front of you.  Windows open, sun pouring through the open roof, breeze singing through you, tunes on.

I am summoning the Archangel Michael to be with my most beloved Handsome Husband.  To guard him now, to greet him as he takes his final breath.  As Handsome Husband has protected me, this angel will protect and guide him.  A strong angel for a strong man.  He is deserving of nothing less. 521720_4633848285294_1629378181_n

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11 thoughts on “The Rhythm of Goodbyes~

  1. I haven’t met your husband in person, but trough your writing I feel that I had. My eyes are tearing as I am writing this. I have met you, we sat together at our last luncheon for Daughters without Mothers. You are wonderful person, and I am sure your husband is too. It is sad that such a good person has to go trough this. You, your husband and your family are in my prayers.

    Love Maria

    • I too, have never met you or your husband and yet I find myself reading your post daily. I somehow feel like I am reliving my families experience just a few short years ago. Or should I say my sister’s…her husband had mesothelioma, a non smoker. She did just as you, wrote and kept us all informed. He was like my real brother, I grew up with him, he was mentor and a wonderful man. Also with his kids in his room, even to be married in front of him as he lie there full of pain medication and unable to open his eyes or speak, but like you said, he could hear, we are sure of it. I pray for you beautiful family, it is heart wrenching to see you all endure this, but how wonderful you are to your husband and father. And such wonderful friends to come to see him. Lots of love from Montana,
      Kelly

  2. Sending More Love and Prayers you way!!! Both Leigh and I wish we could be with you there. We have both been with you all from a distance.

  3. Chuck was My supervisor and Mentor in 1983. I was transfered to the Flight line from the ISO Dock where I worked for Chuck. I was eligible for Below the Zone for promotion to Senior Airman. You had to meet a board for the promotion and only three would be selected for below the Zone. I thought about not meeting the board because I didn’t believe I had a chance. I ran into Chuck at Grannies the snack shack. He asked me about meeting the board and told him what I was thinking. He talked to me for awhile and convinced to meet the Board it was the right thing to do. He ended up on the Board. I met the Board and made Below the Zone. He came up to me after it was announced he made it and told me I had the highest score from the Board. He said I only lost 1/2 point because I had a white spot on my uniform on the back or I would have had a perfect score. He taught me to believe in myself. When I made Chief I think he was proud of me and I never forgot the lesson he taught me. I always enjoyed talking to him when we were at the Group together. He a civilian and I Group Superintendent. If something didn’t seem right I would go find Chuck and we would talk things over. Chuck thanks for everything! I wish I could physically be there with you. Know that I am with you in Spirit My Friend. You and your Family are in My thoughts and Prayers. Ronald Reagan Quote
    “Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.” I say to you Chuck, you don’t have this problem, you made a difference in so many lives! My life is better for you were in it!

  4. The overwhelming impression is of a cushion of love and caring surrounding a painful time, physical and emotional. There is no easy way to leave this life, but there is a better way to shepherd it out and you, your family and friends are living it with Chuck’s incredible dignity.

  5. Such a beautiful journey as I have said so many times before. A blessing that your husband is awake and still aware enough to see and witness and feel the love that surronds him. How hard it must be for you, your children, friends, and families. But in the midst of it all, a chance for all to say goodbye..no regrets. Still so hard, so I continue to pray for you daily, but I cant help but be inspired.

  6. I THINK THAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL
    THING I HAVE EVER READ!!!
    Alison,
    You are an amazing and loving woman .
    The love that you and chuck share is
    Truly unique. I wish you both peace
    Of Heart and comfort. May God bless
    You both and watch over you always.
    LOTS OF LOVE TO THE BOTH OF YOU

  7. Although I have not seen Chuck in over 20 years I knew him well for a short period of time and Bronwen and my Daughter Nicole grew up together and remain close friends to this day. She has always said nice loving things about you and her sister and brothers and following your writings is breaking my heart that all of you and most especially Chuck is going through such a terrible ordeal. I can only imagine your pain. The love you have for this man cannot be denied and while you don’t want to lose him I understand how you want him to be at peace because when it comes right down to it that is what is most important. We must put our feelings on the back burner while we help our most beloved be at peace. Chuck knew me when I was married to my ex husband Jon DeGeorge and I must admit although we have been divorced for almost 9 years I was with him 29 and know that if this were happening to him today I would probably b going through many of the feelings you are going through. I woke up with a start this Saturday morning with all of you on my mind and felt the need to get up and check on you. I admire your strength, love and compassion and hope that God puts his loving arms around all of you during Chucks final journey. Sending love, hugs and thoughts of peace.

    Teresa (DeGeorge) Riley

  8. I know your full-time occupation is your husband right now, but I just wanted you to know that my tears today are for you and your heart filled with love and compassion. I pray for more of the strength that has so far carried you to help you through what lies ahead. I know you feel blessed to have had him, but your courage as you face his loss inspires everyone else to give love, too. Praying for you today.

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