Yes, it has been awhile since I’ve posted to my blog. I guess because I used the blog to share my thoughts as a caregiver for my husband, Ron. With his passing six months ago it no longer applies. Also, it brings up all the stressful times and starts thoughts running through my head of the “what if’s”. I try to avoid those thoughts because I can’t change the events or outcome.
Why did I decide to post today? Ron has been on my mind today, more than usual. Probably because he liked Halloween. When he could no longer give out the candy he would “stroke tally” how many goblins we had. Then we would have a discussion of the number being more or less than the year before. Like either of us could really remember what number that was. Tonight I found myself thinking of past Halloween’s and then caught myself counting the number of kids in each group that came. Ron would be pleased that we had 44 visitors. I’m sure it was about the same as last year, but I missed the discussion.
They say it gets easier as time goes by. I agree you become accustomed to your new normal, but easier, I’m not so sure. I have been busy taking more quilting classes, learning the nuances of my new sewing machine and trying to get back to my exercise routine. But do the feelings of not seeing that person everyday go away, no way. Yes, I am moving on in some ways, but it all still seems so surreal that he is gone.
We had a new great granddaughter born a week ago. As I was going to the hospital to see her I realized she is the first of our greats that he will not cup his hand around their tiny head and rub it. Who knows, maybe papa cupped her tiny head and rubbed it before she came to us. At least I’d like to think he did.
Yes, today has been day of Crying Moments.
It has been 3 months today since Ron passed away. Seems like yesterday and it seems like it’s been forever. It is has gotten easier to deal with the day to day as I have been keeping busy; exercising 3 times a week, going to quilting classes, sewing at home a lot, etc. Nights continue to be difficult. Not every night now, more sporadic. Weekends are long since I don’t have my great granddaughter like I do during the week for company. I am getting there.
After Ron passed away someone came to the door. When they rang the doorbell the bell went crazy. It kept ringing so I had to climb up on a chair and pull out the batteries. A few days later the doorbell rang but there was no one at the door. This happen a few more times. I finally told Ron to stop playing around that I was ok and he didn’t have to play games with me. It stopped – for a while.
Today my great granddaughter got sand in her eyes and she started to cry. The doorbell rang. I told her I needed to answer the door. No one was at either door. Then I got thinking about times it rang in the past and no one was there. It was usually when she cried. When Ron was alive he was always concerned when she cried and wanted to know what was wrong or what she needed. It wasn’t unusual for her to crawl up on his lap to be consoled.
I think I have solved the mystery. I think Ron is ringing the doorbell to let her know he is concerned about her. Also, to let me know he is checking out how things are going. I hope he hasn’t checked out the roses since I don’t prune them as good as he did. I don’t know if these are laughable or crying moments. Just keep checking on us! I will keep trying to do my best.
It has been 44 days since Ron passed away, but whose counting. Some days it feel like it just happened and other days like it has been forever. I have no idea what makes the difference for the time frame. Last week I talked strongly to myself about trying to get back to some form of normalcy. Whatever the heck that is.
I haven’t worked out for months so I wanted to get back to doing that. Amazing how everything starts spreading once you stop exercising on a regular basis. I needed to do many things in the yard; plant annuals, prune roses, etc. I’ve been wanting to take more classes on how to use my new sewing machine, but couldn’t leave Ron. Also, I have several sewing projects I need to finish. Oh, the list goes on and on. So where to start. The sewing store was starting a new Beginning Quilt class so why not do that. I could learn the correct and best way to do a quilt. Maybe I could rid myself of bad habits learning on my own previously. I went to the first class and came home energized. I can’t wait to get started. Next up getting back to Curves. I went on Saturday and again Monday. It felt good to stretch, bend and lift my body parts again. It kicked my butt, however it felt good. Next hit the yard. The yard was Ron’s pride and joy. So even though my heart isn’t in it this summer I couldn’t let him down and not get everything done. Of course, I was happy I took the time once I finished.
So last week had the appearance of “normal” activities, I was feeling pretty good and felt like a “new” norm was forming. Fewer Crying moments. I was finally getting there.
Then today rolled around. My neighbor told me I had a broken sprinkler head. He was not only nice enough to fix it, he even went to the store to pickup the part. He also pointed out 2 other heads that weren’t working properly. While I can do a lot of things, adjusting sprinkler heads is not one of them. This was the first thing that came up I couldn’t handle. So I have to call my lawn maintenance guy. Then I went to the mail box and Ron’s Death Certificate finally arrived, after having to call last week to find out why I hadn’t received it. The Department of Vital Statistics forgot to process the information. Well that was a slap upside the head. Normal has not arrived after all. Tonight has been a tough night. So I will pull up my “big girl panties” and start all over again to try to get to a “new” normal.
I was going to write this yesterday, but I just didn’t have the “oomph” to do it. Last week I thought my head was in the right place to face this. I called the florist and ordered flowers for my parents and sister, like I do every year. Not that it is easy ordering flowers for them, but it has been long enough that the emotions aren’t so raw. It usually doesn’t had an affect on me until I’m at the cemetery placing them that it hits me how I miss them and how many years each has been gone. This year, of course I had to included Ron. He would think it frivolous to get him flowers. He never minded my getting arrangements for my family. He always went with me to deliver them until the last few years when he didn’t feel good and preferred home to being out and about. He would tell me not to waste money for flowers when he was gone. Of course, he would say that. Where was I to put his flowers, since he wanted to be flushed down the toilet. There was no way I wasn’t going to put flowers on him. He loved the yard and the flowers so he should have some to enjoy.
My daughter and her husband went with me to put flowers on, as well. I needed that support. It would have been more difficult to go by myself. At times I forget Ron is gone. However, a cemetery has a way of putting it all in perspective – it kind of slaps you in the face so you can’t ignore, deny, or pretend it never happened when you are staring at the replaced grass.
I needed to do some shopping, which I spread out as long as I thought I could get away with without the store thinking I was casing the place. There was a part of me that wanted to be alone and part of me that wanted people around to get through the day. So I figured shopping with strangers filled that bill.
I took a big step this week. I am opening the bedroom door and the blinds during the day. At dusk I close it all down, again. Not ready to have it open at night. Not in any hurry – a day at a time.
Still a lot of Crying moments but I don’t want to forget or not talk about the Laughing moments. Those are the ones that will get me to the other side of all this hurt.
Yes, it should be easier as the days go by. Not happening. I think I have adjusted pretty well to Ron’s passing, then it’s like something slaps me in the face; a picture of him on my computer screen, pruning the roses (he was better at it than I am), or a million other things. The tears well up and down they come.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself today as I was pruning roses. No overwhelming thoughts. Then my sweet neighbor came by to see how I was doing. Next thing I know I have tears running down my face. She also let me know the mother of another neighbor passed away. I love these neighbors and felt like I should walk over to express my sympathy. My feet didn’t want to go so I went back to pruning. After a while I see the wife pull in the driveway. I wave and ask her to express my condolences to her husband. I was keeping it together, thanks to the distance. Whoops, she is walking towards me. We meet in the middle of the street and in no time at all we are both crying. My loss of Ron still so fresh and the loss of her mother-in-law just happening. I’m sure we were a sight having a pity party in the street. We both knew what the other was feeling on some level and respected that pain.
I let her talk, like she was kind enough to let me talk about Ron’s passing 3 weeks ago. It seems we all need to do this to help process what has happened. I think that is the first step in the grieving process. Don’t keep your thoughts inside. Let them out. If no one’s around to listen, just say the words out loud to yourself. It’s ok to be angry, be hurt, be relieved, since caregiving is not easy. I try not to get hung up on the guilt when I have these talks, of what if. What if I was a better caregiver, ignored the DNR and took him to the hospital. Would the outcome be different. What if he wasn’t on hospice. Would the outcome have been different. Then I remember these were Ron’s choices. He didn’t want to do doctor’s and hospitals again. Not sure he totally understood hospice, but it made the process easier because he made the decision. I’m hope the guilt gets better.
I decided it is OK to have a pity party alone or with someone as long as you need to. But, I think you need to be careful if you aren’t making baby steps to move forward. It would be so easy for depression to take over. So glad I have family and neighbors who care and look out for me. But, those Crying moments are still here.
This past Saturday we had a Celebration of Life for Ron. I hope he isn’t too mad that I did this. You see, Ron didn’t want anything once he passed. He has been telling me this for years. But, I needed to do it for me, for family. He passed on April 28th and I waited until May 10th to do the Celebration. I can’t imagine just waking up the 29th and thinking this is it. No closer, nothing.
Ron was not afraid to die, unlike me. He has always been very clear that he wanted to be cremated, no obituary, no service. When I asked what to do with his ashes he told me to flush them down the toilet. I told him I couldn’t do that to him. He told me he wouldn’t be there, it is just ashes and probably not even his. I said I was not going to clog up our plumbing with him so I would put him out in the gutter for the garbage truck to pick him up if they came by. Yes, it was easy to banter and joke about, but reality kicks in when you are faced with following through.
I honored the cremation. However, I purchased an urn that I think he would approve of since he loved golfing and had volunteered for the Senior professional tour several years and was course marshal at a country club for a couple of years until his health started to fail. I honored the no obituary. This wasn’t hard to do, though I think there are people who would like to know he has passed and would only find out with an obituary. The no service! OK so I cheated on this one. I needed the closure.
So on this past Saturday, family, friends and neighbors were invited to celebrate his life. We had a very nice turnout. It turned out just as I pictured it. It was an informal event. His son’s talked about him and then opened it to anyone who wanted to speak. A letter was read that a nephew who could not attend wrote, my daughter, grandkids and nieces spoke and then I talked, which I wasn’t planning to do before I found myself on my feet. My granddaughters husband played guitar and sang a song he wrote and Amazing Grace. It was perfect. There were Laughing and Crying moments. But, most of all there was closure.
Oh, just so you know, I did not put him out for the garbage truck. I purchased a burial plot a couple of years ago and that is where he is resting.
Do the nights get easier? I hope the answer to that is yes. Days – not as hard. Not that I don’t have my melt downs. I find I can’t make those calls that have to be made to the different agencies without the lump in my throat and trying to hold the tears at bay until I finish the business at hand. Today is the first day I have spent anytime in Ron’s bedroom – our bedroom – moving some furniture back and unplugging his pacemaker monitor, fan he had on 24/7, etc. I have busy arranging for his Celebration of Life this weekend, which has taken me on an emotional roller coaster. But still, the days are still easier. Nights not so much.
Nights have always been my quiet time. During the day, before Hospice, I was getting Ron to doctor appointments, getting meals, testing sugar 3 times a day or more, doing blood pressure, checking his oxygen levels several times and making sure he had clean clothes and depends. Once he went to bed I could decompress before going to bed. However, once I went to bed I slept with one eye open incase he got up during the night. Now I find that I don’t think about going to bed. The house is too quiet. I realize there is no one behind that closed bedroom door. I have to force myself to go to bed. Once I fall asleep I wake up around 4 or 5 (the time he passed) and have trouble falling to sleep again. I’ve started leaving a light on in the kitchen during the night. Never done that before. Guess I’m not to old for a night light! I’m not afraid to be alone – I just feel lonely and empty. Once in bed I have my Crying moments.
Tell me it gets easier.
It has only been 5 days since Ron passed away, however it seems like much longer. I guess it’s because it doesn’t seem real yet. This past week has been filled with notifying family, neighbors and friends, visit to the mortuary, getting pictures together for his Celebration of Life on the 10th and contacting those official notifications; insurance, social security, etc. The days have been filled with ups and downs.
The ups, having my daughter stay with me for several days before and after his passing and to keep me together after. She was with me when he passed holding his other hand. She gave me the strength to get through those hard days before he passed and since. Also, my sister has been there to help before and after his passing. Grandkids have been here and a son came from Oregon to lend support. The downs, the outcome is the same, he is gone. I find myself thinking I need to get up and check on him like I used to. Then I remember I don’t have to do that now.
Now it’s just getting through the days. I stopped sleeping in our bed when Ron started sleeping sideways, taking up over half the bed and our pug filled up the other half. Once the hospital bed was removed our bed was brought back into the room. Since his passing I have kept the bedroom door shut like I did when he was in there sleeping, night or day. This has helped at night because I just tell myself he is in there asleep. I haven’t made the bed yet. Not sure when I will do it. There is no hurry I’m not moving back in there for a while. Maybe never. Time will tell.
Crying moments out way the Laughing moments right now.
Monday morning at 5:00 am, Ron, my husband of 32 1/2 years passed away. Fortunately, when my daughter, who has been staying with me to help, and I got up at 4:00 am to give him his next round of morphine we noticed that his breathing had slowed. After giving him his medicine we stayed with him. We talked to him and held his hand. I told him I loved him and I would be ok, he didn’t have to worry about me. There was a flash of lightening, a clap of thunder, the light in the room brightened then dimed. I looked at Ron’s face. He furrowed his forehead for a second and let out his last breath.
After the aide and hospice nurse got him ready for the mortuary for cremation we went back in the bedroom to see Ron. I can’t put into words the look of peace on Ron’s face. He looked rested for the first time in years plus there wasn’t a winkle to be seen. Ron looked wonderful. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do death. I have never been able to touch a dead person or get too close to the casket. I was so surprised to find I could hold Ron’s hand and rub his forehead after he passed. He was still warm and looked just like he did when he slept, prior to his health issues. Ron looked at peace and I felt at peace.
I have many Crying moments, and will for some time. I also some Laughing moments when recalling moments in our time together.
I guess I knew this day would come. So am I prepared – no.
The past few weeks I have been following a couple of fellow bloggers whose husbands share some of the same health issues as Ron. They were reporting how their spouses’ health had taken a turn for the worse. In fact, one just lost her spouse this past week. My heart hurt for her because I know, on some level, what she has been going through. The spouse that says hurtful things to you that they would never say if the Alzheimer’s & dementia wasn’t robbing them of their mind. When the behavior of her spouse hurt her, I told her I understood, which I did. I hate the person my husband has become because of the disease, but I still love the person I married. It is so easy to give others advice, share your words of wisdom and hope it will help them through the hard times because you are feeling good about the status-quo you are experiencing.
Then you wake up one day and find your world is about to be shaken to it’s core. Wednesday evening Ron went to bed early without eating dinner. I went in later to give him his evening pills and check his sugar. He was having trouble sitting on the side of the bed and with breathing. So set his oxygen as high as I could go. The next morning, oxygen too low, couldn’t sit up to take pills, etc. Contacted Hospice nurse. We thought he had aspiration pneumonia. Fever out of control, new concentrator to set oxygen higher, antibiotics, anti-anxiety medicines, try to keep oxygen in his nose, change him, etc. Nothing is helping. Well he has rallied from pneumonia before, he can do it again. OK, so reality kicks in. He is not going to come out of it this time. His DNR request to just be kept comfortable is put into motion. Time for the powerful drugs – started on morphine. After two doses he has stopped moving around and is resting comfortably.
Yes, I knew this day would come. So, am I prepared – I am prepared to make him comfortable while he goes through this next journey in his life – I am not prepared to let him go. Too, many Crying Moments.