both of us, Beloved by no more than a laboured breath.
End stage kidney failure is closing in towards the end, no doubt about it. All the classic signs are there; the doctors say whatever they do now will make no difference at all. Keeping him distress-free and comfortable, those are the sole objectives now. He will, eventually, just fall asleep and not wake up. That’s my hope, anyway.
Yesterday he was sitting in his chair, he’d had some soup at lunch and a few drinks of tea and water; he ate a small slice of chocolate cake in the afternoon and I thought: ‘brilliant, there is enough life left to do that.’ Perhaps, perhaps . . . .
Strange, I am still hoping for a miracle, how silly of me. When he wanted to get up to use the bathroom (really, to what end? He produces almost nothing now), I called the carers who promptly turned up with the usual hoist. He was too weak to grip the handles, although the inflatable seat thing was doing most of the work. After much effort and, seemingly, pain, they gave up and brought another hoist, a larger one which scoops him out of his chair.
To my shame I admit that I couldn’t bear to stay and watch; it was time for me and Millie to leave anyway, so I took the opportunity between hoisting manoeuvres to kiss him good-bye and leave. By the time the whole operation would be finished he’d be too weak to take much notice of me anyway.
His deterioration is rapid. Last weekend he was still very different. Both his children visited, over different days, and they really had the best of him, most likely also the last of the good days. Both came over two days, for hours at a time, and both managed to have a sort of conversation with him, although he didn’t entirely make sense. On both occasions he was wheeled into the garden and on the last day with N., Beloved’s son, we actually sat outdoors in mild spring sunshine.
“A lovely family reunion,” Beloved said afterwards, he’d obviously conflated the two visits into one. He also thought his mum had been present; it turned out that I represented the old lady who has been dead for many decades. No matter, he truly loved his children’s visit.
On the day N. was here Beloved and I had our 30th wedding anniversary, although he barely understood what that meant and quickly forgot the date. In the evening, N. and I went to the local pub where we had a leisurely meal and did something we have hardly done during all the time his Dad and I have been together: we talked. Really talked. It felt good.
In fact, I have become closer to both his son and daughter during the period of Beloved’s illness. Isn’t it sad that it takes a catastrophe for people to learn that they can get on without vague undercurrents of resentment and bias.
It’s late and I must end here, but given the chance I will tell a tale or two of a lighter nature, to do with other residents of the care home. The seven weeks up to now have not been unrelieved doom and gloom, there have been brighter moments too and, in spite of the pain and loss I am feeling, the one thing I was truly afraid of will now not happen: his body will not outlive his mind. Look at it whichever way you want, that is surely a blessing.