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.