I remember this week two years ago, and it has been weighing on me again. Her shallow breaths, her little hopeful moments and the long periods of pain in between for us both, the visits from harried Hospice workers, all of it.
I do not know why my mind and heart return to that place so strongly and vividly as they do now, but I certainly feel the sadness and sense of being forlorn, punctuated by the little happy seconds of victory.
They were such small ones. Making a little mush of her pills with honey to ward off the bitterness, getting a drop or two of water or soup down her parched throat and seeing her look at me with recognition and love, not fear and confusion.
I remember watching her as the pain would fade after waiting for the morphine to kick in, trying to stay ahead of the agony for her. I remember feeling my own pain subside as her breath evened out.
Every four hours, the alarm would go off and I would administer her medication. Looking wearily at 11pm, 3am, 7am, work time.
I remember Barbara would come in and me reluctantly leaving to try and keep my work in order and rushing back every break to help and check on her, change her linens and diaper, and get back to work. The heaviness of it all that ground me down and made me short with people, all very vivid.
Two years ago today, I wrote "The vigil begins." The gurgling in her chest would turn out to be pneumonia. But we fought on, and if she could not make chitchat, she would at least love me with her eyes.
I miss her eyes now most. Fiery and kind, strong and vulnerable, and in the end pained but hopeful, a study in contrasts. More than a window to her soul, they were a window to my heart for her.