Today is my husband's birthday. Happy Birthday, my beloved!

Once again, he's proved us all wrong by opening his eyes to see another one. This is an important milestone.

Yesterday, we weren't sure if he would. He went into congestive heart failure again. A slew of rapid phone calls between his cardiologist's and pulmonolgist's offices and me on a course of action. I popped him with a large amount of heavy duty diuretic and potassium, but not without consequences. A "quick" trip to the Emergency room to semi-stabilize him lasting four hours with my ex-husband burning up minutes on my cell phone to call the squad. But for his comfort we (two daughters and myself) transported him via my van to the hospital.

He was eventually released for home. It is his ultimate wish to die at home surrounded by things and people he knows and loves. I, being his Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, made sure he would be released before I even took him. My girls and I know this, but I'm glad I have their support even though it is very difficult.

So now he is in his own bed. I can't give him his Lasix because his blood pressure in only 50/20. He needs the fluids to maintain that blood pressure. He lost eight pounds of fluids yesterday with the Lasix and it only marginally reduced the extra fluids putting pressure on his heart, and filling and compressing his lungs. It's an oxymoron at best.

Our youngest daughter stayed here last night to help me and allowed me to get some rest. So I'm doing well. Or as well as can be expected. The hospice admit nurse from my #2 daughter's job will be by today. It is time. Not because the end is imminent and we are not capable of handling what is needed, but it gives us a break.

The girls will be by with the grandchildren like any other birthday. My husband will blow out his unlit candles because of the oxygen with his grandchildren's help. He'll eat maybe two bites of the cake and maybe a bite of his ice cream because it's required. We will try to make it a jovial event with this heavy cloud hanging over us. For the second time this will be done at his bedside. The first time he was in the hospital.

Once again we take humor of the situation. In the past it has always been around a holiday and a Thursday that my husband has had a crisis event. Yesterday was time for an 11-year old joke. "It's Thursday, do you have gas in your car?"

And the wait continues...

The Final Gift

It's no big secret to anyone following this blog that I've cut back on my blogging. I've even changed what I do blog about and when except for those blogs I'm committed to do. This is another of those times.

For the last couple months I've been struggling with the care of my husband. For those who do know, he is terminal with a bad heart, bad lungs, and cancer. Yes, he's been terminal for a long time...11 years and counting.

It's my anniversary today! Happy Anniversary to us for passing the 21 year mark in spite of life's hard knocks. That's what faith, forgiveness, and fortitude has done for us, but I'm afraid this is coming to an end.

No not divorce but death.

My husband's condition has rapidly deteriorated over the past year since my stroke. He has honestly given his disease ravaged body a good fight for staying with me. This year so far he has fought numerous bouts of pneumonia and congestive heart failure. At the end he's bounced back, but had not bounced back fully. Each time has taken its toll to the point where there is almost nothing left.

I watch him struggle to draw a breath and stop breathing completely for a few moments, and can see the truth. We've had the revolving door of in and out of doctors' offices, the *ologist's brigade, over the past several months to where we are all exhausted. All of it to hear the same thing, ""It's time."

They all wonder why he is still breathing and talking. I wasn't sure myself, but for years I've been praying for peace and comfort. I no longer pray for healing. That has been given to us in spades although it might not seem that way to most. I've been blanketed, no cocooned, in peace and comfort that I've forgotten all my worldly training.

This week that revelation was brought home to me by my hospice nurse daughter while we were discussing his condition. For the past month now, my beloved has imposed on our children to take me out and do fun things like the farmers trade and swap, movies, lunches etc. for several hours a week. Another child, or grandchild, or extended family would sit with him and take care of his needs. I couldn't see why he was doing it or at least refused to see why.

The reason was to get me involved with life again. To make me realize that life goes on even after death. It was his gift to me. My daughter said, "Mom, you need to tell him that you will be fine without him. It's time to say goodbye."

Now I have counseled umpteen gazillion people to do the same thing. I've even done it with family members like my mother, sister, assorted others. I've counseled others as a nurse and a minister. BUT it never dawned on me or recognized that it was time to do this with my husband.

So this week as I stroked his face and kissed his lips, I told him goodbye. I will be fine that he could stop fighting. He could look into my eyes and see it was the truth. I gave him permission to leave me until we meet again. This was my final gift to him and there is nothing more precious left to give.

And now I wait, because I refuse to mourn his passing until he breathes no more.