July 27, 2014
I can't stand to be with him and I can't stand to be without him. I start crying when I'm with him and have to leave. I run back to the sunshine and the pool, to sounds of squealing children, to life. there I seek out and yet somehow resent the couples, and the women whose partners are sitting next to them. I can't stand to sit next to him because he is gone. I am turning down social invitations. I want to be alone except for my kids and a few family and friends.
I am having heart surgery right now. I have very little issue with the need or reasons, but my rage continues about the particular meanness of it all. The real issue here is the choice of tools. My surgeon is using a spoon. If he were to lay open my chest, clutch my heart tight and fast, and yank it out, I would gasp with the terrible suddenness and assault, but I might be able to heal. With this procedure, he is working through skin, fat, and muscle, slowly and inexorably with his spoon. The dying continues all around me. Ready or not, it comes..all around me. My beloved..and last..cat, my sister in law, who loved me unconditionally and shored me up constantly with her support and gratitude for my loving her brother, my friend's brother, all dropping like flies around me while my partner ebbs away at his own snail pace. This loss, this operation is perhaps the most painful loss of them all, but it is not honored with quick, clean, surgical precision...it is moving like the glaciers, slowly grinding all the gravel of hopes and dreams, all the nuggets of fun and mutual adventure, ahead of it, pounding it all into dust. The spoon, regularly, slowly scooping the joy and pleasure of life out with the remaining life skills. He has forgotten how to walk. He is terrified when we lift him to change dressings or pants, or to move him from his easy chair to his wheelchair. His legs wobble with unfamiliar weakness, his knees bent, all parts forgetting their normal roles, routines of living, and settling into their still, frozen caricatures of death. I still feel a sense of failure and betrayal over my inability to care for him at home. The fact that I cannot care for him at home in his present condition does not allay my persistent belief that I could have done it better and that I owed him that effort. I know that he will die sooner because he is not with me at home. My new learning and hope is that perhaps that is not such a bad thing. Perhaps dying sooner when your heart is being scooped out of you with a spoon is, in truth, a mercy and a blessing.