Today marks two years since Adam passed away at 4:30 in the afternoon. His parents and I were there, holding his hands, as he slipped away. The miraculous appearance of our priest, Lisa Frost-Phillips, allowed Adam to have last rites and for us to have a tiny sense of his well being as his spirit drifted away from us.
Last night I was thinking about that day. You know, I remember almost nothing of it until the moment it became apparent that he would pass away. I don’t know which of my wonderful caregivers was managing my house that day. I remember nothing of the day before. It was just another grinding day of going to hospice with my burdensome backpack to while away the hours of our vigil. Usually Adam’s parents stayed with him in the morning, then I arrived in the early afternoon while they returned to my parents’ house for lunch and a little rest. Thankfully we were all there when Adam’s final hour came.
For some crazy reason I didn’t have Lisa’s mobile number in my phone. I couldn’t reach her when Adam started to fade. I was terrified and distraught. And lo and behold she appeared. She appeared.
Also unusual on that day was Adam’s nurse, a woman we hadn’t seen in the two or so weeks he’d been at hospice. I thought we knew everyone. I like to call her the Angel of Death; I’m convinced she helped Adam along to the place in which he already dwelt in every way but one. It was time—beyond time. He was suffering. The angel helped.
I feel bad that I got the heck out of there as soon as Adam was pronounced. I didn’t linger to cry and hold his chilling hand. I felt that his soul had flown and that it was best that I did the same. I mean, now he would be everywhere, not just trapped in that betraying body. I didn’t have to stay to watch the funeral home van drive that body away.
So I drove to my mother’s house where many people were already gathered. I had to meet my sister there; she was driving in from vacation, and she would be devastated to hear that he had passed away before she could see him again. She was. Mom had to go get Caroline from camp and let her know, and bring her home. Fortunately Caro was able to return to her friends later that evening; they were better able to give her the comfort she needed than was our group of dazed mourners.
I do remember what I was wearing, as I always do in emotionally charged situations. I’ve worked hard to wear those clothes again, to divest them of the emotion that permeates every thread. Sometimes I succeed; sometimes I don’t.
Despite today’s laundry list of chores, it’s looking like I won’t get much done. Sadness is really debilitating. It’s like an on-board sedative dispensed by your body in order to get you through. So instead of the calls I was going to make and the errands I was going to run, I’m going to clip my neighbors’ crape myrtle blooms and set an arrangement beside Adam’s marker in St. Matthew’s’ memorial garden, and then I’m going to hang out for a while in the garden of Hellebores at Duke Gardens that was given by their friends in memory of Adam and Tom.
Last year at this time I was just glad to have made it a year. That achievement was a bit intoxicating and helped me make it through the day. Today I’m feeling a little more solemn.
And on this day I also remember all of my wonderful friends who helped our family through the 5 months of Adam’s illness. And I honor those who continue to help us out in so, so many ways. Thank you, friends. Love you, Adam. I still wear my rings for you, as I am still yours.