Almost two weeks ago I wrote that I would, the next day, finish my post of June 5 and tell you all what happened to Adam after Tom’s death. A good friend reminded me that I had neglected to do so. Probably because I don’t want to face it. But you can’t hold things in. When you do, bad things happen. Your gut churns, you sleep, you don’t sleep, you drink. You find a way to suppress the pain but it comes out some other way. So if you’re trying to block your pain remember this. It’s not like I’m really good at addressing my issues; hey–it’s been almost two weeks since I said I’d write a follow-up to that post! But I’m learning from a dear friend who is facing her own grief now, and she’s helping me a lot.
So. To recap. We thought Adam was doing really well. He’d had enough surgeries of one kind or another on his brain to enable him to reduce the amount of steriod he was taking for the cerebral swelling and begin chemo. He’d had (I first typed “we’d had”; yes, we endured together) a couple of rounds of chemo–I can’t remember if it was two or three, when Tom died.
(Oh dear. I had to pause to eat my frozen dinner entree: Amy’s black bean tamale verde. It is unsurpassed if you have to eat frozen. Bliss-ish.)
So while I was eating I remembered this. Right after Tom died, I guess it was the day before his church service, which would have been July 2, Adam had a chemo treatment. It’s memorable because Duke ICU had made casts of Tom’s hands to be given to his children, and I went over while Adam was in the treatment room to pick up the casts to take to Tom’s wife at the service.
We drove to Winston-Salem for the service and Adam was doing well. He was walking well, he was cogent, it was good. He never had bad side-effects from the chemo.
After the service there was a reception. Again, Adam was doing well. He talked to Tom’s colleagues, Tom’s mother, and other relatives.
Then we were standing in a hall outside of the reception room and he collapsed. I got a chair under him so that he didn’t hit the floor. He had done this before and usually recovered himself quickly. But not so much this time. We were in a room full of neurosurgeons and their interns. People were freaked. Because they were upset, I was too, and we went home.
That was approximately July 3, and the middle of the week. We were supposed to leave the following weekend for a 2-week beach trip, leaving on the Sunday, our anniversary.
By then it was evident that we weren’t going anywhere, but Adam was insistent. Although we were to leave on Sunday, he spent Saturday trying to load things into the car and haranguing the kids about packing their stuff. He came into the kitchen wearing a pair of shorts with both of his legs stuffed into one leg of the shorts. Once he tried to put on the shorts as if they were a shirt.
Time out. What do you do when your *husband* starts doing these things??? God only knows what my kids were thinking, because asking them was out of the question; I was hanging by a string. I took him into the bedroom to deal with the shorts and told him to *stop already.* Stop trying to do things because he couldn’t do them and that frightened me and made me yell at him which I did not want to do!!!
Well guess what. The next day, Sunday the 7th, we loaded up the car anyway. I didn’t want to go. I had visions of us trailing the Dosher (Southport) hospital helicopter all the way to Duke, cursing ourselves for having given in to Adam and come to the beach.
If you find yourself in this position ever, be reassured that God will deal you a hand. After loading the car to the gills, it wouldn’t start. It. Would. Not. Start.
We unloaded the car. Well, the kids did. I don’t remember a thing, and in fact wouldn’t be able to relate the story here had not Caroline, in her unparalleled eloquence, written about the incident for her creative writing class this year. I was broadsided when I realized my complete amnesia about the event. But reading her account made me remember.
The kids unloaded the car.
The next day, Monday, July 9, the day after our 23rd anniversary, Will asked me for a mop.
Adam had had his customary Boost in the morning and had vomited it up all over our bathroom. Will cleaned it up. He didn’t say “may I,” he didn’t hesitate, he took care of his dad. And you know what? He’d been taking care of him all along.
When Adam had his first grand-mal siezures, Will was the one who rescued Adam. At the time we didn’t know what was going on. But Will was the one, he was the one who rescued his dad with strength and silence. He was a rock.
So on Monday, July 9, Will rescued his dad again. Put him in bed, cleaned him up, and cleaned up after him.
After a period of assessment I told Adam I could no longer care for him and that I had to take him to the hospital. I put him in a wheelchair and wheeled him out of the house, into his black car (hearse?), and ferried him to Duke North as he continued to retch into the bottom half of a plastic milk jug. Valet parking was full. Really? No problem. I had a handicapped sticker.
The admittance process was grueling because I had to answer stupid questions while my vomiting husband was sitting alone in the foyer of Duke North. That’s just how it is. Stupid paperwork.
He finally got into a bed, was comfortable. I stayed. When I left he said, “thank you for bringing me here.” It was the last coherent thing he would say to me.
I’m wiped out and I bet you are too. ‘Night for now.