It is now past sixteen months since my dear wife departed. What I remembered of the last week of her life in St Vincent Hospital is all a blur but I remembered a few moments of clarity when I knew the end was near for her and for me. The end of life for her, and for me also, the end of life with a partner of over half a century. Two days before she departed, I was visited by the “end of life” nurse who took me through what was happening to her, what I can do to make the time she has left comfortable, and what needs to be done after life is over.
Listening to her was an out-of-body experience for me. I understood everything she told me and yet was asking myself why was she telling me all this? The next morning the Doctor asked if I would like to move my dear wife to the floor below where other “end of life” patients were located and that he said he would try to get a private room for me to be alone with my dear wife. I thought that was accepting the inevitable and I politely declined.
In her last days, there were moments when she looked long and hard into my eyes, and with our eyes locked, I told her to get well because I wanted to take her home. Not a word passed her lips …in fact not a word has passed her lips for the last two years and more. Dementia had robbed her of her ability to speak.
It was at around 4am the next morning that she left us. There were five of us there with her at the end. Remy, Nalza, Far my son Zack and me. At around 4 am, in the quiet of the morning, I realized that she was no more with us, told my son, and then told the nurse who called the Doctor to confirmed her passing. How do you deal with the passing of someone with whom you have shared a life for over forty years? With great difficulty and much sadness. There was fear of life alone. There was fear of how my son and daughter will cope. But all this fear and uncertainties were somehow bearable when I think that my dear wife no longer had to suffer through dementia and the last week of pain and suffering that pneumonia had inflicted upon her.
Now in hindsight, after five years of taking care of her through her dementia years and that last week of seeing her life slipped away from her while at St Vincent, I know that I can face anything in life alone. In all those five years of her dementia and in that last week in St Vincent, there was only me, my daughter, and son to keep us together and going through life. Nothing else matters. And once she departed I know that all things must pass. Even me.
I am reminiscing about a life past because the present is sometimes unpleasant. What makes my present bearable is my belief in my ability to do what is best for myself and for those I love. And after that, if I can, do good to, and for others. Everything else will fall into place. That is why sixteen months after my dear wife left me, I live life as I had always lived it when she was with me. Nothing much has changed. And writing had been my solace. And to those of you who read what I write….much thanks. By so doing, you make an old man in Fitzroy, happy. Enough said.