Unbearability~

Handsome Husband died Sunday evening at 11:21 Pacific Time.  It was a long process for him and much of it wasn’t pretty.  In either sound or sight.  Death seldom is, is it?   Movies and TV keep it fairly clean-not unexpectedly.  Who wants to tune into ugliness?

We don’t see, via any type of “entertainment” what cancer does to a body.  How it bruises and mis-shapes the body of the man you love.  How it bores holes at the base of the spine-a combination (of sorts) of a tumor and a bedsore.  And all the dressings in the world won’t disguise the seepage of blood from it.  Or the smell.

We don’t see the lymphedema build up in the body, swelling hands and feet to the degree that legs can no longer bend, and fingers seem to hang off a blob of dough.   We don’t see the part where the body can no longer support the internal lymphedema and so it sweats its’ way through to the surface, ultimately soaking  hospital gown and bedding.  Continually.  So that gown and bedding, including pillows, must be changed just as continually.

We don’t see the fingernails slowly bluing.  Same with toes.  Or spots coming to the surface to bloom on hands.  Little red spots marching across the knuckles of the man you love.

We don’t see the breath slowly traveling up the body.  Gut.  Chest.  Throat.  Finally, mouth breathing.  Each breath becoming more and more shallow.  Accompanied by a horrific gurgling, gasping sound.  Our daughter Rachael-Grace says she’ll never be able to listen to a coffee maker again, without remembering that sound.

I saw my Handsome Husband’s face slowly lose color as each breath became a gasp, with long seconds in between each breath.  My breath was held in each time, waiting to see if he would breathe out again.  And he did.  Until he didn’t.   It all happened at once.  I watched his chest, watched his throat move to bring a breath up, watched his mouth move, instinctually wanting to inhale.

And then I watched as, within seconds, his entire face drained of color.  I’ve read about that phenomena in books.  The character’s face drains of color.   And I’m here to tell you that such a thing is very possible.  It was only seconds, maybe less even than that.  As instantaneously as a switch being turned off, the color drained.  He went stark white-lips included and believe me, I’ve never seen lips that white without makeup making them so.  Ever.  No color. None.  It was almost frightening.  And then he didn’t exhale.  Color gone.  Husband gone.

11:21 pm, California time.  April 21, 2013.   A clock, a time, a day, that slams into my heart space and will, I know, be seared into it for some time, as I go through the grieving process.

I’m exhausted.   532901_10152250938645400_1112002834_n

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34 thoughts on “Unbearability~

  1. I have never met either of you, but I read this posting today and cried for you and your handsome husband and devoted family. I am sad for your loss, but so grateful to have followed a bit of your love story. I hope you get some moments to rest before long. It sounds like your own body will not give you any choice except to sleep. I’m praying for you.

  2. Send you all peace, love and prayers. . my heart is with you all. and although we have never met you feel like a dear friend.

  3. So sorry to hear of Chucks passing. He was a good friend as we worked together at McGuire AFB for many years. Will miss him much. Take care of yourself. Prayers are with you. Bob Johnson

  4. Thank you for keeping us informed of all that has happened. What a beautiful story of love and dedication. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  5. My thoughts & love are with you Alison as you grieve the loss of Chuck! I am so sorry that you are going through this.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss Alison. I can not even imagine what you have described so eloquently here. I know you know that you are in the thoughts, prayers and hearts of so many, as you are with Joseph, Arden, Finn and I. I wish for you some peace, but know that is unlikely at this moment in time. Take care and know you are loved deeply by so many.

  7. I am so very sorry for your loss. You & and your family handled Chuck’s dying with such love
    and dignity. I’m sure he was so very proud of you all.Sending you all my love & prayers.

  8. My sincerest and heart felt condolences Arlene, to you and your family all. I wasn’t thinking when I sent a message to Chucks face book page last week. I am so sad with you. The worst part of life is death. Surreal Isn’t it? That feeling will keep you strong and able to go through the motions, of living. I too witnessed the ugliness and rapid progress of lung cancer that ate my loves body ever so slowly and purposely over the 10 months he fought to live. Chuck knew both of us from AA meetings. Tom went home with 24 years sober April 17th 2009, at home on morphine, with a few of us around his bed, holding him in my arms, watching his breathing stop and the spirit leave his earthly vessel. His eyes were deeply staring into mine when he was taken up. I felt drawn into him, that I could have been pulled right in through his eyes… And then gone! Empty shell, free of the bondage of death and pain. I know he was somehow able to be with me for around the first year. He showed me direction and gave me answers that only he could tell me. We were/are deeply dearly loved like few are blessed to experience here! Truly. I hope you feel free to call me to talk in a few months as you are ready. I am here for you, perhaps we will meet. Tom O’brian knows me, and can contact me when you come around if you ask. Blessings, Grace, and peace that passes all understanding, be upon your head. Warmly, Mindy Gullo (Doyle) 609.369.6166

    Sent on purpose

  9. Your journey…………awesome, fearful, angry, tearful, joyous, loving, hating, sharing, honest……………………

  10. Alison, although I did not know you my heart is breaking for you and your children. The love you shared with Chuck is evident for no one can write the words you have been sharing if that was not so. I will keep you all in my prayers as you struggle to regain your strength and some normalcy to your life.

    Teresa

    Sent from my iPad

  11. Alison, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I can’t stop crying. I wish I was there to give you a great big hug. I know how much Chuck meant to you because he would always talk about you. I’m so sorry

  12. I so wish I could share words that might impart some comfort to you at this time but everything I can think of seems to fall short. Please know there are people who you have not even met who hold you in their hearts and in prayer. You have obviously taken good care of your Love in this journey. Now is the time to take care of you. Much love to you beautiful wife.

  13. Alison, thank you for this very beautiful testament to love, life and death. I worked with Chuck at McGuire just before he retired and I will always remember him as the consummate gentleman–gentle of speech and manner, and always always optimistic! My condolences to you and your families. Love, Chris Wagoner

  14. Alison the same happened to my precious daughter when she died on the 18th of January 2013. The second that her soul left her body she was reduced to a horrible ghost-like skeleton. I battle to remember her without the “bruising.” Movies romanticise death. There is no beauty or even dignity in death. Hugs!

    • I’ve oftentimes thought about how movies romanticize death and have found myself howling at the TV- “That’s so not real!”

      I was so fortunate to be with Chuck when he died, but the process wasn’t easy to watch. My sole consolation was that I knew, from past personal experience, and from working in hospice, that what I was seeing and what he was going through, were two different things. For that, I thank god.

      I know too, that this part that is playing in my brain, of these last months, will eventually dissipate and I’ll be able to look at the pictures of him healthy and whole. I’m begging for that time, because this is unbearable.

      Hugs right back to you, tenfold. I’ve always thought that the deaths of my brother and mom were unbearable but they don’t hold a candle to this. I imagine that the death of a child, such as you’re experiencing, is one of the few worse things.

      Be blessed, Tersia~

      • It’s ok to be at the pace or stillness of grieving. It’s been a year and the wounds and love are still deep and fresh and however you need to grieve, you will. Even if that means an eternity. Thinking of you today on April 22nd, 2014. I watched the beautiful video that was made and the essence and evidence of love are radiant in each of those pictures. Hoping that extra bright star in the sky twinkles just for you. Perhaps a new stop along your journey you may speak with HH and tell him about how he’d love that place or something new for him to see. He’s following-right there with you and spiritually engulfing you inside your car on your journey. Wherever that journey may take you—it’s where you need to be for you…for you both. My thoughts and tears are with you today from here in Geneseo, IL.

        • Audra,
          Its going to be a beautiful, and I know heart-wrenching, journey across country for me as I continue the Odyssey of Love. I’m so thankful my daughter will be with me.

          Your words are so beautifully written and touch me to the heart~
          alison

          • The North star may always be HH and your compass Kamahooptra for she’s going to help guide you along your journey and take those twists, turns, hills and valleys along with you and throughout your life. I wish you safe travels and I will be reading and watching as you tip your chin to the sky, take deep breaths and know that the life that’s breathed within in you is the aura of HH helping sustain your glowing radiance here on this earth. Wherever HH may be, his rays will shine upon you.

            May the sunshine regenerate you, may the moon glow be your guide, may the Moonstruck journey reach thousands of miles— open wide; may the laughter be plentiful, may the tears be shed, but know that when you lay down at night, HH’s north star will shine above your head. May the Love tattoo be a token- of what you’re living for-even though HH has physically left you, he still your inner core. May your daughter smile and beam-as you both dance into the night, may you share the hugs and tenderness, as you hold each other tight. Doesn’t matter where you travel, North, South, East or West…this journey called Love-proves-Fucking Warrior Goddesses-ARE.THE.BEST.

            Audra

  15. OMG, I am sitting here sobbing as I read and relive almost the exact same thing when my mom passed…no…when
    my mom DIED. Death has an ugly
    face that we as surviving family must look at and deal with. The sounds are horrid, the visions at times haunting. Cancer itself can turn the death of a loved one even uglier than a “normal, natural causes death” presents. Sounds and smells take over, you can’t avoid them as death takes it’s grip. Given all of this, ppl still expect us to get over it and move on! I say that until you have been dealt the hand of death you should hold your tounge!!!!
    Alison I feel and understand what you are continuing to go thru, & I love and support you! I have felt “Nothin’ but love” from you, Rachael, my Angel Sisters, my life long friends and family & I will return/do nothin’ but the same in return! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
    Much love being sent to you and your family! Love you all!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  16. I don’t know you either but I wish I did! I recently started following your blog. I find your words touching, raw, and real. Have you ever thought about putting this all in a book? I think it would help plenty of people suffering such a devastating loss as you…anyway I enjoy all your words and wish he was there with you!! With love from Susan in Miami!!!

    • Susan,
      Oh, yes, I’m definitely planning a book. One of my primary goals this year is to start it and finish it. The tough part is figuring out where to begin but I’m determined to get it done.

      Thank you for your words of encouragement, and well, just the love, really. It makes it possible for me to get up each morning and put one foot in front of the other.

      And the story of Happily Homeless? Its only going to get bigger in the next year, so I hope you stay tuned~1
      alison

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