Like a freight train rolling down the tracks to an uncertain crossing the cancer is unstoppable. This was the weekend of the crash. Rising concern bordering on panic as symptoms spiraled out of my ability to keep Karen comfortable. Being a weekend it took forever to get any medical advice but finally our home hospice care supervisor recommended the ER. Perhaps I was only dealing with an infection.
If only; last year's scare was a pneumonia, very serious but Karen recovered. She was diminished by it and never was able to come off supplemental oxygen.
Still we had the most precious gift of all; more time.
Ultimately Karen was hospitalized on the palliative care floor of our local hospital. Karen's rejected further treatments this morning so we only made her comfortable with pain medications.
Last night I slept on a cot at her bedside.
We shared what was to be our last kiss.
Today she saw friends.
But today she also shut down. Mostly sleeping during the day.
I left to go home to freshen up. Our son Ian at her side. She woke up, took off her oxygen cannula. She wouldn't let him put it back. Minutes later she passed. Minutes later I arrived.
My lover has died.
I'm sure there is poetry that she brought Ian into the world and he held her hand as she passes to the next. I am sure there is power in her soul that she needed to pass to Ian. He and I will carry her memory forward.
Our friends have surrounded us and showered their love on us.
But one of the final chapters has been written.
This is the "what comes next"
I love her so much.
Photo - William Evertson - The Last Kiss
William and Karen - Karen and I have been married for 41 years. Karen's breast cancer has reached stage 4. This is what happens next.