I watched him pass from this life to his next. Even in the end he was beautiful, but as I talked to him and kissed him I watched in marvel as every line, every crease, every ounce of stress melted away from his face as if I were watching a slow motion camera catching time. It was nothing short of amazing.
He'd been in a coma for a day and a half when the end came. His breathing had become rattled. They call it the "Death Rattle" and once you hear it, you know instinctively what it is. I sat by his bedside caressing him and telling him repeatedly that I'd be okay and if there was a light that it was okay to go towards it.
His eyes that had been closed for a day and a half opened just the tiniest sliver and he never took his eyes off me until the call came greater than me. I knew he didn't want to leave me; that he was trying to memorize everything about me to sustain him until we're together again. He had told that himself just eight days earlier.
I struggle and vacillate on a daily basis whether I believe that this is all there is or if there is a life after life. He wrote a note to his best male friend the day before that read: "Respect life. Just as we thought, this is all there is." His words on this piece of paper haunt me. I want there to be more. I need there to be more. With every ounce of me I hope there is more.
I pray with all my heart that there is a hereafter. I so need to be in his loving arms once again"forevermore. I guess time will tell.
Those last days were harrowing days filled with moments, most of which I wish were not part of memory. But one special moment of hilarity that still speaks to his quick wit, his personality and his ability always to make someone else feel good was when I first brought him home to die.
Rescue brought him in the house and situated him in our bed and they departed. Our dear friend, Steve, and I remained at home with Philip. We were attempting to adjust him and make him more comfortable in the bed but we were having a very difficult time moving his dead weight when Steve said, "Buddy, can you move your left arm at all?"
Indomitable Philip smiled and nodded yes and in the same moment he reached over his body with his right arm and lifted his left into the air! Steve and I laughed heartily and Philip smiled as brightly as his paralyzed face would let him. Only my precious Philip could display such a sense of humor in the worst of circumstances.
In those last days our home was filled with loving friends stopping by to pay their last respects. The front door remained unlocked and open to accommodate the steady stream. Friends filled the refrigerator with food for all and other's manned the kitchen making certain I ate at least a sandwich a day.
I'd be next to him on our bed surrounded by a dozen or so friends everyone telling stories and filling the room with laughter and gaiety. Although we couldn't see how it was affecting Philip, all of us knew he was loving every minute of the fun. The last thing he would ever have wanted was anyone wallowing in grief. Especially me.
The morning of the day he slipped away he wanted to shave. Steve rolled him to his bathroom sink, took out his shaver, fixed his mirror and then what we saw will remain indelible in my mind, and Steve's, for the rest of time.
Philip had lost everything except the use of one arm and one hand. He no longer had any peripheral vision in which to see himself fully. Mind you, Philip never told anyone he just moved onward like the man he always was with the spirit of a super-human.
In the attempt to see his reflection in the mirror, he leaned so far to the left that Steve and I had to hold him fearing he was going to slip right out of his chair. It was traumatizing to witness the extent of his damage and inspiring to view the will of this man we loved so much. But, for me, the anguish of watching my vibrant, wonderful husband struggle without complaint infiltrates my memory and immediately brings tears from deep within.
It took a very long time, but he finished the task. Knowing Philip as I did I can tell you, unequivocally, that he hated shaving. He'd shave for me and he loved how I'd love to kiss his smooth face.
I must proclaim that Philip had the most wonderful mouth and the most amazing kiss in the world. I'd know it anywhere! It was one of the things most sad about his last days because his lips had become flaccid from his stroke. He couldn't pucker; he couldn't make use of his glorious mouth. I know he knew it when I'd kiss him. Of all the things I'm certain of, this is one of them: not being able to kiss me good-bye made him exceedingly sad
In the days leading up to his coma and in the days of his coma, I reached out by telephone to his faraway family and friends so they would have an opportunity to say good-bye and have their closure. From all I've ever read somewhere in our subconscious we're aware even whilst in a coma.
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