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.

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