I looked through a couple old emails from Vernon this morning (and quit when I felt the tears rushing on.) Here is one dated 9/2005, so about the time we first met on Myspace. (Sigh, Myspace…a bit of a Melrose Place for the single 30-somethings around the turn of the century. Good times.)
hmm this is getting weird now. I mean it! You really are SO much the
person that i have ‘had in mind’ . Does that freak you out? It
freaks me a bit – but i admit it’s a calm and warm freakiness, like
the pleasant shock a lost traveller might feel when they surprisingly
find themselves at their destination yet not knowing how they got
there. yeh, something like that… i really hope we were meant to
find each other to share something very special and long lasting
between us. xxxooxxoxx
I’d forgotten how quickly and intensely our feelings had developed. We hadn’t even met each other in person yet. Many throughout our courtship, Vernon expressed a sense of ‘knowing’ about us. I’ll bring some of these emails to share with him today. I think he’ll like it.
I brought him a couple of his love letters to read yesterday. I’ve read them to him so many times since I found them in the spring. We listened to Nick Drake and the Clientele, at his request. These were CDs I played over and over when he was in Mission Hospital all those early months. He seems to like the music on when I leave the room. Probably makes him feel less alone.
He is sleeping a lot more between visits, but we are getting moments of wonderful clarity. Maki had some time alone with him the other day, and though I haven’t heard much about it yet, it seemed like it was meaningful. He said he was very alert with him. He was very alert with me yesterday too. It’s such an miracle, how is this even possible now, we think? It does help us embrace the mystery as we can appreciate how special this experience is. I tell Maki: none of us know how to do this. If you feel like doing something, you are probably right.
I fed him ice cream. I guess he’s been eating a lot of that. 🙂 He has been asking Joe to give him the cup and spoon so he can feed himself. Joe, of course, loves spoiling him and won’t leave his side when family isn’t there. We love that we are finally allowed to give him food and water. I had to sign the Advanced Directive at long last, which suddenly opened up the kitchen to him again. He’s no longer receiving food or water through his g-tube, but he is allowed to have smooth foods and water for oral gratification. He got a nice British tea delivered to his room: sausage, mushy peas, and mashed potatoes. He also got a side of tapioca and ice cream. I think this may have been the first time he’s had a tray of his own at Mesa Verde. How ironic.
Truth be told, he didn’t like it very much. He’s lost interest in food already. Except ice cream. We’ve given him a lot of that the past couple of days, starting with frozen yogurt in the hospital. It’s been so nice to feed him.
I’d already started crying earlier when I asked for chocolate ice cream and the kitchen worker readily handed me a cup. I remembered all the times I used to plead for food for him. At one point, they’d let me feed him thickened apple juice, but even that became contraband once his order was cut off by the speech therapist. Here he is with a vanilla milkshake from In and Out…they are the best.
But he was SO clear with me yesterday, so present. I know he has been remarkably aware the past couple of days, but yesterday it was if his memory had returned from the depths. It was remarkable—it felt like a miracle, a resurrection of sorts. I looked at his eyes and they seemed to be lined in the same direction.
I reminded him a little of our love story, reading some old letters. He loved that. I told him I’d travelled a long way to be with him (in England) and he responded: “I travelled a long way to be with you too.”
(He’s right of course, but he remembered!)
I told him it had been over two years since the accident. “I can imagine that’s true,” he said softly.
I was shocked. All this time, he never seemed to understand he’s been bed-bound that long, or even that he’s very injured. He would get angry whenever I’d try to convince him. Total denial and then, with the memory loss, it would keep happening all over again. So this was different.
I told him that I missed talking to him like this. He told me to stop talking about it. “It’s reality,” he said peacefully but firmly.
Of course I went on a little. “Stop talking about it now,” he said again.
I asked if there were any grudges he had to forgive. Of course he couldn’t think of any. I couldn’t think of any for him either. I’m pretty sure he has made his peace. The truth is, he was always a forgiving guy.
He’s taught me to be forgiving too—he’s still teaching me. Last week, before the decline was confirmed, I’d asked him if given the chance, would he want the people in the truck that hit the vespa to visit him.
“Sure,” he said.
“What would you say to them?”
He looked up with his innocent, wide eyes, “I’d say: Hello. How is it going? How’s life?”
He’s slowing down rapidly now, sleeping most of the time. Hospice told me he would start fading more quickly at this point. It’s been one week since his last dialysis. It usually takes about 8 days from then, they say. After a busy week of visitors, I’m starting to draw tighter boundaries. There is little energy left, and it should be spent on his loved ones. Death may not be today or tomorrow, but it will be very soon now. I imagine his passing will be like Vernon’s own words:
a calm and warm freakiness, like the pleasant shock a lost traveller might feel when they surprisingly find themselves at their destination yet not knowing how they got
there. yeh, something like that…