“He lives most life whoever breathes most air.” ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Even with the oxygen treatment being added to make Vernon more comfortable (his blood oxygen levels are running around 74%) his lungs are working hard. His breathing is so slow…but it has been for days. The thing that I’ve noticed more this morning than even last night is that every few breaths, it takes longer to get to the inhale. Suddenly I sit up: was that the last one? Is another coming? It’s not unlike listening to a sick baby’s breathing patterns: Wait—where is the next breath?! Every once in awhile, he’ll make a loud gasp as he exhales…of course that startles us all. It’s very hard to listen to. I shall have to come in and out of the room more frequently today, I expect.
We have to go in and out emotionally too. We cant’t be heavy all the time. It’s exhausting. Every time there is a sacred-feeling moment, and it seems like the end must be close, I feel so connected, so primed for the moment. It feels like the last goodbye….and then, he lingers and we have to pull ourselves out of the moment and take a break. I called my friend Andrea earlier to talk about it: “It’s so hard, his hanging on like this. It’s already 17 days since his last Dialysis. We expected it to be so much sooner. Is it just that he’s young and has strong working organs? I don’t think he has any unfinished business that I can think of.”
“He has been dying a long time, ” she said. “He should have died the night of the accident, but he didn’t. He kept coming back from the brink for over 2 years (and 3 months yesterday.) You have always made sure he has love and music around him, you visit him all the time, even now in hospice, you give him a lot to live for, a lot to stay for. His spirit may be saying…I’ve got forever to enjoy eternity, I just want a little longer with them here. What seems like too long too you may seem to short to him.”
That really helped my perspective this morning, even though it did make me cry. To see it from his possible point of view makes me relax a little, and think: the timing isn’t up to me. Like birth, its inevitable, but his timing doesn’t belong to me. It’s still Vernon’s story. It’s still his life.
Here is a ‘message’ I saw from Vernon last week in a shop. Loud and clear in his Amatic font, which seems to be everywhere these days: