Friday, March 4, 2016

The gift of details

Two years ago today Kevin experienced the first of several pulmonary embolisms. It was the beginning of the end that came before we even adjusted to the beginning of the beginning. The embolisms weakened him so much he couldn't endure chemo, let alone any other invasive treatment. This marks the first time the doctors pulled me aside and told me it could happen at any time, that death was hovering. It was the first time I called his kids and had to say I don't know. It might be important that you come now. We had 23 days left. We didn't know that.

Those days are a blur to me now. I rely on his Caringbridge site to help me remember the progress of those last weeks. I wanted to say those last desperate weeks but I don't want desperation to be the prevailing memory. I'm sure I felt desperation but now, two years gone, what I remember is the love and sorrow and fear, the fatigue, the casting about for something - anything - that might make a difference, as I knew there was little difference to make. I remember the way we were connected, as if there were no boundaries between his heart and mine. I remember the arc of his eyebrows and the way he finally slept with the oxygen mask on, my relief as he rested beside me.

I remember the little details more than the larger story and, in many ways, I think that's a good thing. It's in the details that I find the tenderness, the connection, the reminders that life is bigger than death. The bigger story, the Kevin died from pancreatic cancer story, is too much and too simple. His life was more than that. Our life together was more. Our story and his story are better than that.

I remember listening to his breath.

I remember the feel of his skin.

I remember the kindness that surrounded us. I remember the nurse who held me while I sobbed as I truly grasped that it wouldn't be long. I remember the small kindness between all of the friends and family who were there. I remember the love I felt from all the people following from afar.

I remember the care Kevin took of me, even as he was dying. I remember him doing his best to make me laugh, to ensure that I know how much he loves me.

I remember the love.

I remember the love.

I remember the love.

And that is enough. The cancer may have stolen his life but it didn't steal everything. When I look, in the details of the memories and the present moment, the love endures.

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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