Warning...description of death. Not gory, but death nonetheless.
I am sure that we all are aware that not knowing is worse than knowing. Even if knowing something is not good, at least we can now start to deal with whatever the news is. Not knowing, at least for me, leaves you in limbo. Too many "what if's", too much time worrying and fretting, not enough time spent on the present and moving forward.
I asked the question. Actually, there was probably more than one question, but the big one had to do with Donny opening his eyes in his last moments here. I was there and I can tell you it gave me pause and made me wonder if I had made the right choice to let him go. The doctors had been clear that he was not going to recover and would likely pass quickly without intervention. I listened to all they told me and knew that the scenario they put in front of me was not what my sweet husband would have ever wanted. They could have kept him alive, but it was not living, but existing. No, that was not what he would have wanted at all. Still when he opened his eyes just as he was passing, I had second thoughts. I could have asked right then. There were medical personnel close by and his sister, an RN, was right there. He died so quickly after that moment and things just kept happening that needed my attention.
It was several days later that I began to fret about not knowing what he knew in that moment. Was he aware he that he was about to die? Was he scared? I kept thinking about those questions and rolling them over in my mind...for months.
I was sad that he was gone. I was scared to be living my life without him. We had all sorts of plans that now were never going to happen. I had a house, animals, a job and myself to take care of. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, but the whole time those questions played in my mind as if on a looped tape recorder.
I sought help for grief. I found some, but I kept coming back to those questions. I read a lot, talked to people who had been in my shoes, wrote here and to Donny...and still there was no peace.
One evening I decided to call Donny's sister. I told her I was not really sure I wanted to know the answers to my questions, but I had to ask. From the perspective of a medical professional she told me what she knew. We cried, we laughed and she said something to me that I still carry with me. She told me that Donny had made decisions that took him to that day when he died and I needed to not feel guilty. I had felt guilty. Did I do enough? I didn't want to mother my husband, but I wanted him around. I told him sometime in the last year of his life that I had come to a decision. I was no longer going to nag at him about his health. No more questions about his diet, did he take his meds, when was his next doctors appointment...nothing. It was hard to follow through, but I told him I wanted to be married to him and to enjoy our time together. I am so glad I made that choice. It was hard at first to break the pattern, but it was so good for our relationship. And you know what? He did better about his diet, his meds, his appointments...all without me nagging at him!
The morning after that phone call to Donny's sister I woke up with a huge weight lifted off of my life. I hadn't realized what an affect not knowing was having on me!
Within a few days people started noticing a change in me. My boss commented that I was singing again! I'm not sure if he was happy or not, but I realized I was finding my joy again. I smiled more, even laughed and the good things in life just seemed more apparent.
So, I will tell you, no matter your circumstance, ask the question! You can do it and I hope it is better for you like it was for me.
Since that day I keep moving forward, not on, just forward. Moving on means leaving Donny in the past. He will always be in my heart and in my head, no matter what comes next for me. I am ready for next. I am ready for joy. Aren't you?
The Hopeful Romantic