Oh dear. It was right around this time last year when Joe was admitted to the hospital for the last time. I was out of town but nearby on a much-needed personal retreat when Jeff texted me that he was taking Joe to the ER because of severe nausea. I came home the following day and we quietly celebrated my birthday with the girls in Joe’s ICU room.
Joe spent the next two weeks in the hospital, declining steadily, until finally we told the hospital team we were taking him home. He could no longer walk or communicate, and we knew there was no more they could offer him, as the tumor growth was out of control.
I could tell he was relieved to be home, where everything was familiar and there was quiet order. Joe was at peace (and if I know Joe, probably relieved) that his end was near. We signed up for hospice care soon after.
Such painful memories; I can feel my stomach knotting up just thinking about it.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me… Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:4,6)
I have always loved autumn. Still do. I get giddy at the arrival of the first cool, gray day after summer. But I have a feeling October and November will be tough from now on. And do we even need to talk about the holiday season?
Throughout that final dark and stressful time, we were surrounded by the love and practical support of our extended family, friends, neighbors and church family. People brought meals, visited, texted and generally made sure we knew we were not alone. Many dozens of people wrote tributes to Joe on his Facebook page, which I read to him, and which my friend Joanne gathered into a book. I treasure it. How wonderful (and necessary) to be a part of a community, a crucial lesson for this solitude-loving introvert.
I miss him so much. And I sometimes think about my future: as I prepare to turn 60 in a few days I am reminded I will not have my son to help care for me as I age. My husband is a strong and good man. My two daughters are loving and generous, and they are two of my closest friends. (And I am still in good health, thank you!). I am blessed, and have no fears for the future. It’s just… I don’t know, there’s something about a son…