He said he was tired. He was thumbing through a set of movies in the living room. He said he likes to watch two movies each evening – that’s his routine. He then goes to bed at 10:30pm. He was fairly insistent that I not break this routine, thank you.
His wife was in the bedroom next to the living room. She was asleep and would probably not wake up again. She still had color in her face and, actually, looked pretty good. But we all knew that the toll was being taken slowly, surely, predictably. Her hair was combed and she had been set up on a pillow so she could “watch” TV. It was on and turned up quite loud. This was, he explained, her routine every night.
And so routine was the desire and expectation despite what was going to happen in a few days. He said this is how their evenings had been for as long as they had lived in their apartment – several years, at least.
I understood. While it might seem that one would be smothering the other one who is getting ready to pass, I remember how tired I was. My context and senses were set on NUMB. I understood, I think, the gravity of the situation but I simply didn’t have the energy to hover, grope, fear, worry. It wasn’t denial. Rather, it was like a trance. Autopilot. Zombie-like. Yes. I understood him. Completely.
And when I left, I sat down at a table in the waiting area and wept. His tears would come soon enough. But he was where he was – a place that’s pretty lonely and desolate. It would come. But for now, he was doing all he could do. And I hurt for him. I understood.
I left him as he started his second movie. She slept with her TV turned up too loud.
It’s Tues, May 20, at 3:15pm as I write this updating postscript. I just received word that she passed shortly after I left on Sat night last week. It was peaceful. She had her husband of 65 years at her side.