Friday, May 18, 2012

On this night one year ago, I spent my first night as a widow. May time be damned.

17 May 2011, At The Beginning of My Longest Day.

On 17 May 2011, at about 1.00 AM, the phone rang.

I was not really asleep,  and when I picked up the phone, the duty doctor for the ward told me Arthur's condition had deteriorated, and he was not expected to survive.  I was shocked and asked what was happening. He explained that Arthur's condition had got worse and he needed to tell me about the change. The doctor was concerned about me driving the car, and said I did not have to rush, I could come in the morning as he thought Arthur could survive for a few days, but he didn't know how long it would be. I said I was okay to drive and would be there soon.

The words rang in my mind, 'We do not believe your husband will not survive this hospital stay'.

I put Chelsea, our little female dog, in the car and drove to the hospital. The roads were empty and everything was still. I took the laptop with music loaded into it, and a few other things. Arthur's first wife's little Bible was one of them, along with some blessed water Arthur and I collected about 20 years ago at an Anglican Church in the South East (South Australia) that was supposed have a vision of Christ on the wall, and the Buddha given to him by the last friend he made while in respite at the Care Home in Semaphore.

I parked the car, and left Chelsea to sleep on the seat. It was dark and cold and so quiet.

I was frightened.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Night of Sixteenth May, 2011.

Written on 16th May 2012, 11.45 pm

I ordered the Memorial advertisement for 17th May. I am still staying with my Mum, all my will to move on drained by the loss of our dogs, Ajax and Stamp. Every day, I still do many things to try to locate them; newspaper advertisements every week or so, leaflets handed around, posters taped to poles or their Facebook page updated. https://www.facebook.com/AjaxandStamp

I 'talk' to Arthur, I pray to a God whom I doubt, and just grieve: all joy, all wish for the future stripped from me. I am a cork bobbing on the sea, a sea whose soul-less creatures pull at me to sink to oblivion. To write, even, hurts too much.

A year ago at this time I was asleep, 11.45pm on the 16th of May, 2011.

I had spent the day at home, tired and resting, a sleep I now regret. I believe now, though, that I was getting the rest for the ordeal ahead of me, although I had totally refused to believe, even at that late stage, that I would not be bringing Arthur home. After all, the day before, the nurse told me Arthur had not been approved for palliative care at home, that he was getting better and would be going home.

I was upset, as the lovely social worker was trying to arrange more help for me at home and without palliative care I did not know how we would get it. The doctor told me on Arthur's admission he would not survive, but I made Arthur promise me he would be with me for my birthday. Naively I thought the strength of our love, his love, could deny nature. When this nurse told me Arthur's lung infection was responding well and he would be going home later in the week, I was confused but relieved. I felt the familiar worry, of coping without enough services, settle into my mind. Things were normal.

I went in to the hospital at about 3 or 4 pm with the laptop and I fed Arthur his tea, some beef soup and chocolate mousse I think, and some spoons of the warm, very sweet tea I always made for him.

I put on a movie on the laptop, 'When Saturday Comes', about an English football club in the time when Arthur was young and I spoke to him about it. He was too tired to watch it to the end. He was sleepy. He complained to me of earache. He wanted his ears syringed out. He thought they had wax in them.

I tried to get it done but the only doctor allowed to do it was in Casualty and could not come. Arthur got distressed, saying he could see ants moving about on the ceiling. I calmed him and said he was seeing things, but it was alright. Arthur was given some pain tablets crushed in jam. Later he was still saying his ears hurt. I went to the nurses and insisted something be done. They tried their best to help and called up a doctor. The  doctor prescribed some morphine and Arthur was given an injection.

I stayed with Arthur until he fell asleep, about 10 pm (on the 16th of May.) I kissed him on the lips, and made sure he was comfortable. I packed up the laptop computer and went home. I curled up to sleep with our four dogs. I expected to be back next morning to see that he was treated for the earache. I spent the time before he fell asleep talking to Arthur about football, the things he had seen as a kid in England, our dogs at home and that I loved him.

At home I fell into a light sleep, dogs by my side, in our bed with sheets unchanged, my husband's scent on the pillows.

I was not prepared for Arthur to die.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day Of 2011, My Last Year as Arthur's Wife.

I say goodbye to 2011, and I say goodbye to Arthur, for the first time. Goodbye, my Husband, goodbye our Earthly life as husband and wife. I loved you then, I love you now, I love you forever.

In the turmoil of grief this record stopped on 18 July 2011 because on 19 July 2011, the unthinkable happened. Two of our beloved dogs, the litter-brothers Ajax and Stamp, got out of the yard. Despite my desperate searching, I have not found them. The grief of their loss, the broken promise to Arthur in his final hours of life that I would care for our dogs, the endless fruitless search, has sapped me and brought me to the brink of total despair, and pitched me into endless pain.

I am still staying with my Mother. I have not the energy to move out. I know I must put my grief on hold to search for our dogs or I am useless to them. I know their Mum and Dad, little Chelsea and Trafford miss them terribly, as do I.

When I asked and prayed and cried to Arthur for help in finding them, and he was not able to help me, I knew finally how alone I was. I think his eternal energies are for keeping them safe and being with his son, Anthony. With his Downs Syndrome, Anthony sadly has dementia, and he is now in a special purpose nursing home run by the government for people with intellectual disability. It is a good place but I see in Anthony that failing strength I saw Arthur go through, though without any dementia. I know Arthur needs to use anything he can from Heaven for Anthony. He knows I am strong.

I miss Arthur like the heart misses blood.

Each morning, in the haze between sleep and wakefulness, my first thought is a prayer for the soul of my beloved Arthur, and the second a prayer that this be the day I find Ajax and Stamp.

Christmas Eve was too sad to write about until now. I always lit candles and by their light Arthur and I ate Arthur's favourite treat, fruit mince pies and drank  a glass of port wine as we listened to Christmas Carol records, with our dogs sitting next to us. In preparation I always decorated the house and set the Manger scene under the tree and a Star on top.

I would join in the carols and Arthur would hold me. It was a time for just him and me and our dogs with love. Christmas Eve was our special time together.

This year my Mum visited my brother on Christmas Eve. I was alone, with Chelsea and Trafford, and Mum's little dog Shep. I lit the big lavender candle that was at Arthur's funeral service. I found two fruit mince pies and a tiny glass of Scotch. I put on carols on You Tube with the laptop, the ones we always listened to. I held Arthur's suit jacket, the one he always wore on ANZAC Day with his medals that I had sewn in place many years ago. I sat Chelsea and Trafford with me, and just remembered.

I remembered the Christmases past, Arthur's smile, the children opening presents, Xmas dinners at restaurants for us all, baking for Xmas, decorations, trees, his arms about me, his kiss and the way he said he loved me.  I remembered holding him when he was too weak to hold me, and the last Christmas in 2010 when I sought the best seafood, Alaskan Crab, prawns and oysters, cold meats, salads and ice-cream, all set in a tempting cold buffet.

My Mother, my son Jason, Arthur and me, enjoyed a lovely informal Xmas lunch. Jason hooked up the laptop and I located You-Tube videos from England. Arthur saw his home town of Brightlingsea, historical videos of Manchester United Football Club, and many other things he was amazed and happy to see. It was a magical, special day, the last we Christmas we ever shared together.

This Christmas Eve I held his suit jacket to my breast and cried out the tears I have held back since the day he died, or at least some of them; the others are still behind the dam wall, that is flood I too much fear.

The year 2011 ends, a part of my life ends. I go from wife to widow and happiness has died within me.  The clock moves on and drags me with it, away from my old life, into the one I do not want.

The only happiness for me now is to find Ajax ad Stamp.

May 2012 bring that comfort.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Mysteries

Yesterday was the 17th of the month and I spent it with my Mum. In the shower, of all places, I prayed for Arthur and asked God to care for him, and to let Arthur know I still remember him, and that I am trying hard to get on with life. I said I was sorry I did not care for him better, that in the last days I did not spend every minute with him that I could, that I got too tired and that I was not always there when he wanted me to be. I asked God through Jesus Christ to care for Arthur.

I thought about life and death, and the fear I have that my religion is wrong and there is nothing after death. It is the logical and scientific way, but it is so final and frightening. I do not understand how it can be though. It does not make sense that something as complicated and mysterious as life can just stop and all that we think and understand just stops. We must, I believe, transcend our bodies, because we are more than our body, which is limited in its existence. There are Mysteries to which we mere mortals aspire but cannot know fully in this life.

So my understanding is that Arthur is beyond my earthly reach, but I am not beyond his, that he has an awareness of me, but he is in the light of eternal love.
It does not dampen my longing, though. I long to go home, to go back. I am two calender months from when Arthur died, and my grief is still a frightening lake of dark water. If I go in too far, I cannot see the bottom and the other side is shrouded in mists. I fear I will float across the water, bobbing up and down as waves engulf me, and never see the shore again.

I could grieve and grieve and grieve until there is no more to be wrung from my wretched soul. What happens then? Where is Arthur in my life if I am not grieving for him?

Dear God, I miss his touch, his voice, his smell. After Arthur died, when I took the pillow from under his head, the little cylinder-shaped pillow he always asked to be put under his neck, it was warm with the last warmth his body ever shared. I held it to me and cried to the nurse. "It is warm, when it is cold he really will be gone."

I want to feel my husband's warmth next to me in my bed. I long to hold him close and feel his skin on mine, I long to touch him and hold him. I want to hear his strong heart, the heart that just kept going when all of his body was failing around it, the heart that loved me so.

Love is a Mystery.