We officially, so to speak, just reached the point where there are things that I or his daughter Bronwen, who is here with us, can no longer do for Handsome Husband. We had been assisting him out of bed so that I could get him to the bathroom. The last few times was a process that could take an hour easily, as he maneuvered his way from bed to edge of bed to standing while leaning on his cane, to wheelchair, from stationary oxygen tank to portable, to a small bathroom. Once finished, reverse process, all the while with him zoning out, as we put it, between the meds and the disease. Exhausting for everyone, painful for him, but it has been a way for Handsome to maintain some modicum of dignity and doing for himself.
All of this is no longer possible. The pain caused by all the tumors that require him to be heavily medicated. Neither he nor I can manage his body, and it breaks my heart to have to turn him over to the nurses and other staff here. Its okay, I know that. He’s so medicated that he may not even know. But I do.
He looks like he’s dying. His pupils are huge with the medications. His hand, when I held it this morning, seems like it must soon explode, it is so swollen with lymphedema. That’s the same arm where the dastardly Wilson resided. Well, Wilson isn’t back but all of his cousins and relatives are, and Handsome Husband’s arm is thick with tumors of all sizes. His nurse said that the pain level would be intolerable without the meds. I believe him.
Handsome Husband’s body could be a study on the internal systems of the body and what happens when cancer attacks. You know, one of those brightly colored maps that computers allow. Hallucinations are ongoing with this poor man. Except that they aren’t hallucinations as we interpret them necessarily, and he knows that they are hallucinations and that they aren’t real. He is having rapid fire TIAs, which is why the hallucinations happen-the brain has to fill in the empty spaces in between the memory lapses. This cancer has attacked all of his nerve endings, and that is causing tremors and trembling, which has to be exhausting. Every part of his body is swollen in some way, or marked in some way, or shows, in some way, the horrible devastation that is happening.
I hope that he isn’t aware of this any longer. I hope, in his mind, he is hiking Crater Lake, or looking out over beautiful Colorado from Pikes Peak. I hope his mind sees Crazy Horse or wanders Custer’s Battlefield on a hot, lazy day with grasshoppers leaping through the tall grasses. Go to the Pacific Coast Hwy in northern California, dear man, and remember the thrill we both felt when we gazed out over the ocean for the first time. Be anywhere but here, I beg you. I’m here with you, but more, I’m with you and remembering with you, the places we’ve been, and the places we’ve loved. Our love is bigger than this, bigger than what has happened to your body. We are still us, and I know, somewhere in you, you know this still and you are hanging on to that love.
I love you now. Always did. Always will. Always. Into the next life and back again. I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.