There isn’t much I would change about Handsome Husband’s time in hospice. I certainly wouldn’t change the overall scope of how it all played out, because I was able to give him exactly what he deserved: he was surrounded by all the love that he’d given to so many over the years. From the moment we checked him into the hospital and I started making those godawful phone calls, I had an idea in mind and everyone came on board to assist me in making that love felt by him.
Yes, there is one major, huge change, I’d make, in hindsight. Oh, how I’d change this one thing!
The nights would belong to us. To us, as husband and wife. No matter who else wanted to be there with him, we’d have our nights together. After dinner, after the kids or our friends and his buddies visited with him, we would say goodnight and I’d close the door to his hospice room, pull the chair up close to his bed, and the two of us would talk. We’d talk about our wedding day, about raising the kids, about the difficulties, about our triumphs, about our decision to retire and go on the road, about our favorite travel stories, our favorite places, our favorite memories.
I think I would even move the other bed that was in the room over next to his, so that I could sleep next to him again, without fear of hurting him. I’d put my bed in the up position, same as his, so that we could be level with each other. As he tired, we’d whisper of our love for each other, how glad we were that he knocked on my door that long ago October day and found us. We would say to one another all the words that two people who are in love with one another and saying a forever goodbye say to one another. We’d say it in words, and we’d say it in the touching of our hands, and in the love that shone from his eyes to me and back again.
We’d be us again. Yes, we both loved the kids so, so much, as parents do. But we’d always guarded our marriage, the me and the him in it. When the kids were small, our bedroom was ours. They had the run of the rest of the house. Out there we were parents. In our bedroom, we were man/woman, husband/wife, lovers. The kids had to knock if they wanted to enter, even if the door was open. They didn’t lounge on our marriage bed, and (how I can hear the screech of protests on this) we didn’t cuddle with them on weekend mornings. He and I cuddled on weekend mornings, (I’m keeping this clean, folks), then went out to the kids and were their loving parents. Once the kids grew up and left home, we didn’t have to try to find each other as lovers again-we never stopped. All it did was get better, once we had the uninterrupted time. We loved our time together then, and loved it more when we started our traveling life. We were strongest when together, as us.
So, yes, if I could re-visit that nightmare-yet-filled-with-love, time, I’d take back our bedroom, even if it was in a hospice. The door would be closed to the world, opened only to the necessary nurses, until the morning arrived and I opened it and we’d be parents again, he’d be a patient again, all the other roles would continue.