“In a dark time, the eye begins to see”–Robert Cavett
Tuesday, April 8, 2008.
I called Peggy Puetz in the morning and she came over to sit with Joanie for a bit while I took a break to meet Wayne for coffee and to also pick up a new medicine doser. The one that Mary Pat had brought over was missing this morning. I had left it in a glass on the table next to her bed, and figured either Brandy or Bailey had decided it would be a good thing to play with, and to hide from me. This was the device I was using to give her water since she couldn’t use a straw.
Dorinda and another nurse showed up a little after ten this morning. Joanie was awake, but only barely. They couldn’t find a blood pressure, and her pulse was up to 104. Also, the mottling was now more pronounced and further up on both legs. Joanie tried to smile when Dorinda talked to her, but it was hard to tell if it was a real smile or a grimace.
She was getting liquid morphine now. I would give it to her with a dropper that showed the exact dosage, and would put it in her mouth between her cheek and gums. I tried to give her Atavan, since they were really small pills, but she couldn’t swallow them.
When Dorinda and I talked outside as they were leaving, she was again wondering how she was able to hang on like she was. I didn’t know either.
That afternoon, Pastor Sathre stopped by to see Joanie, but she was barely able to keep her eyes open while he was talking to her, and it wasn’t long before she was asleep. I’m not sure if she even realized later that he had been there.
Mikey Hoeven came over about 2:00 to be with Joanie, so I could go to Eastgate Funeral Home to get the necessary paperwork done and to let them know what the situation. Again, I had this uneasy feeling that I was betraying her, as totally irrational as that feeling was, it was real. I knew it had to be done, and given the fact that Joanie was slipping fast, it had to be done now.
When I got back from Eastgate, Mikey told me she hadn’t stirred a bit since I left. I thanked her for being there for her, and I would keep in touch.
It was now only about 3:00 in the afternoon. Joanie was still sleeping, and hadn’t stirred at all since I had been home. She hadn’t even been awake enough to ask for water, or some more morphine.
She remained mostly unresponsive the balance of the afternoon and into the early evening.
While she slept, I made another pot of coffee and went into the spare bedroom that also served as the computer room and continued to scan photographs. As I did that, I made some phone calls to close family to bring them up to date, and fielded other calls from her friend who wanted to know what was going on. I would take a break now and then, after checking on her and go out back for a smoke, all the while going over in my mind what was happening and what was about to happen. In some ways it seemed almost dreamlike, and when I would walk back in the house, I would wake up, as if it never happened.
A few weeks ago, I had begun scanning slides and photographs from our almost 20 years together. I had plenty of time when she would be sleeping, and television wasn’t even a consideration. At night, I would sit in the dark, in front of the computer screen, and look at the images of our time together, and remember each one. I knew where and when they were all taken, and part of what I was doing was preparing a slide show that would be set to music that we both loved, and one day either I could show it to her, or I could show it to her friends at her funeral. It was hard for me to do that while she was laying in the next room fighting for her life, and was losing the battle by inches daily. It was hard for me to do it, but at the same time, I wanted something that family and friends could see to remember her and remember how much joy she brought to life. Photographs like this one.
Cathy and Joanie
And this one:
John Smith & Joanie
Around 10:00 that night, after I had given her some water and more morphine, and tried to talk to her a little bit, she went back to sleep.
I opened a bottle of wine, and poured myself a glass, and walked out into the back yard, in the dark for a smoke. It was chilly, but I didn’t notice. I wasn’t thinking about the dark just then, I was just thinking about the light she had brought into my life, and how I was going to lose it.
I tried to cry, but I couldn’t. It seemed like everything was so intense at the time, and I was so focused that I couldn’t let go. There would be time enough for that later.