Six years ago my wife Linda died. We had thirty years together, about 28 of them married. When we decided to to cease dialysis for sudden onset of acute renal failure, she was told rather curtly by her PA, “Well, you’ve got 6 to 8 day to live” we were prepared. Or so we thought. She had spent a lifetime struggling with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and the last two years with the renal failure added, it had been a long haul for her physically.
We met in AA, she had a year sober when I walked through the doors of my early sobriety. She always like to say at the meetings that she waited a year for me in sobriety (an AA trope as regards early relationships for those new to sobriety) and then she pounced. That always got the laugh she expected for this good natured ribbing that is part of the culture at AA meetings.
With 6 to 8 days having been pronounced; a Buddhist Monk friend who lived just over the border in northern Idaho moved into our house. We had made all the arrangements some time in advance, she was prepared. Three weeks later he moved back to his temple, she lived another 15 months and had a few months of resurgence and a lot of time for spiritual flow. I think she died relatively peacefully, some mistakes in her care were made and I made some mistakes in my care for her. I was sitting beside her when she died while a nurse who was changing her catheter bag was telling about a close relative of his that had died while he was young. I almost interrupted him when I realized she had just passed, but he too was in an important part of his story.
All human stuff, but one always has regrets and a wish for things to just not have been so Human. Among all the positive things for her and myself, was to be able to spend so much time in conversation. It of course took on a different tone altogether within the situation, knowing that time was short; on the last Christmas day I realized I could no longer care for her. It was not physically possible to move her by myself from bed to toilet etc: So, we arranged for her to be just five minutes away in a care facility. It was a very small town we lived in that was filled with good hearts and kind people, what a blessing. Thank you, Tekoa, Washington; Jewel of the Palouse.
One of conversation dwelt on the realities of our union. Out of 30 years we had an aggregate total of about 2 years of bickering and ill-will; about 4 years of bliss, and all the rest was in the reasonable middle. We realized that was probably the national average. Not bad for a couple drunks who had done their best to throw their lives away in their early years.
I loved her. I love her. She was a good woman, a good friend, a good partner and a good hearted human being. What more could I have hope for?
Today is not empty. I was so fortunate to not throw my life away and to encounter such a good friend. May you be at peace my love.