III. Death with Inspiration and Gratitude – 3 of 4
This blog post is part 3 of a 4 part series. I thought this series may be helpful to anyone who is facing the death of a loved one or knows anyone that has passed away. At times you may find it difficult to read, yet in the end I hope you can see the inspiration and gratitude I found in this 24 hour period.
I was jolted awake. I sat up and found myself tangled in the gauzy canopy material. I was over my face and wrapped around one of my arms. Come in, come in. Both Marc and Pierre were there, almost falling into the room. I had been asleep for almost 3 hours, it was 1:15am. It was dark and I was disoriented waking up in my daughter’s room. I untangled myself and felt a sense of calm and peace. I wasn’t sure how I was going to react when Ian died, but I sure didn’t think it would be with a calm and peaceful feeling – but how could I not after having just left the place that Ian was about the enter.
I pushed past Marc and Pierre and ran down the hallway to my room. The bedside lamp was the only light in the room. I ran up next to Ian, the oxygen still pushing clean fresh air into Ian’s lifeless lungs. I looked into Ian’s face- he wasn’t there-he was lifeless-he was a shell of himself. It was the same wan sunken checked face I had just hours ago kissed on the forehead goodnight and yet the person I had kissed was no longer there. I felt a flood of mixed emotions. First and foremost was what we do next, what abut the kids, its over, what abut his mother-so many thoughts were racing through my head. I asked what had happened and Pierre said that he had been listening to the monitor we had set up and Ian’s breathing had become more and more shallow and longer apart. He decided to go upstairs to our room and sit with Ian as he wasn’t sure what was happening. When he came upstairs he sat next to Ian in the dining room chair which had been brought upstairs sometime earlier on Saturday. He said his breaths were getting farther apart and then they just stopped. Pierre ran down to get marc and he came up to see and then they debated as to whether to wake me up! I guess Marc didn’t want to bother me.
Earlier that evening, I had called my friend Lisa whose husband was also battling cancer. She ironically had given me the information about what to do if a person dies at home. If I hadn’t had talked to her, I would not have had a clue as to what to do. “You first have to call the hospice nurse so they can pronounce the person dead. Then call the funeral director so the body can be taken. It’s best to call the two people at the same time, so that once the nurse is done, then the body can be whisked off as soon as possible.” I told marc and Pierre that we needed to go make those calls, but first could someone please get Ian’s wedding ring off his finger, as I didn’t want them taking his body with it on. Marc stepped up to Ian’s side of the bed and gently lifted Ian’s arm and grasped the ring and slide it off his finger. Marc handed me the ring and I slipped it into my pocket.
We went downstairs to the kitchen and called the hospice nurse. It would take her a couple of hours to get there. While we sat waiting for the nurse I was compelled to go up alone and spend some time with Ian. The oxygen was still going, so when I got to the room I took the plastic tubing out of Ian’s nostrils and gently took the tubing out from behind his ears. I then turned off the oxygen machine which immediately deadened the room. The calm I felt was overwhelming. I felt serene and grateful that he end had come quickly, swiftly. I went to turn off the electric blanket as Ian had been bone chillingly cold since returning from Seattle. I reached for the control panel and on the display was the letter “E.” I had never seen the letter “E” before and was very struck by it. The usual settings were 1 through 9 and H for high. After feeling I had done what I needed to do I went downstairs and sat at the counter with Pierre. I told Pierre about the “E” on the display of the electric blanket. Without missing a beat Pierre said, “Eternity.” I gasped and pulled the new wedding band from my pocket. Pierre didn’t know anything about the Valentine’s gift that Ian had receive a week ago. Inside the band I had engraved, “Eternally Yours.” Pierre and I looked at each other and smiled. Ian had told me that someway, somehow he was going to send me a sign to let me know that he was ok, and I figured this was it.
I was very concerned that the kid’s weren’t going to be able to say goodbye to their dad. I was reluctant to call the funeral home, as I didn’t want Ian to be gone before the kids got home. I called the funeral home and told them what had happened but that I wasn’t ready for them to come and take his body. They agreed, but said they would be there if I wanted to call back. The nurse came downstairs after pronouncing Ian dead and advised that I call the funeral home back and have them take the body as soon as possible. I was so confused; I didn’t know what to do. I did the first thing that came to mind, and that was to call my friend Susie and ask her what to do. She was up skiing in Vermont, but had given me her phone number and told me to call if I needed anything. It must have been 2 or 3 am, but she was so supportive and helpful. She told me to call the funeral director and have them come get the body as it might be more upsetting to the kids to come home and see their dad dead in his bed. Also his body would start to deteriorate which would not be a good thing for the children to experience – or for me for that matter. I hung up the phone and called Daniel Jowdy, the Kane funeral home director. He was at the house within about an hour. When he showed up he was wearing the best cut black suit I had ever seen on a man and a gorgeous black wool overcoat, behind him stood two men who were faceless. He spoke in a soothing yet respectful tone. However he reminded me of the Angel of Death, almost too well put together and with the two men standing behind him it was eerie.
I told Daniel my dilemma about the kids being away for the night and that I was afraid that they would be upset if he were gone and they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. He very calmly said, “We can not deny the children the privilege of saying goodbye to their father, I will make arrangements for an opportunity to view Ian’s body on Sunday.” I felt so relieved! I then walked Daniel and his helpers up to my bedroom. I went and sat on the couch in the family room – I didn’t want to see them take Ian out on the stretcher.
After the funeral people had been here and taken Ian’s body, Marc, Pierre and I all went back to bed; it was around 4:30am. When I went back up to my room, the funeral people had made my bed and even folded Ian’s CAL blanket so that he insignia was right in the middle on top of the bed. It felt very respectful. I slept for about 2 hours and then woke up and started writing in my journal. Around 7 I took a shower. While I was drying my hair I had the hot air flowing on my face and I closed my eyes and I could hear Ian whisper from behind my left ear, “It is so great here. I love you, but it is so awesome here!” This took my breath away! I felt again so comforted. I felt so at peace! I know that Ian is in a better place. I wasn’t sad for Ian passing, but I was sad for me and the kids.
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