Again… and Again… and Again…

Hi all…

Today is the first day of a reoccurring nightmare that seems to happen again… and again… and again. I feel like I am caught in a downward spiral that has no bottom. No end. No light. I keep thinking that eventually I will be able to find my way back to my own heart, but I am still lost. Lost. Lost in the pain of again…

Yesterday, November 18, 2020 was the last day I was allowed to hold my husband’s hand, stroke his face, kiss his forehead. It was the last day his oldest brother was allowed to visit him. Visitation at the VA hospice unit where my husband is has been suspended. Again. I was told I would be able to stay with him and not allowed to leave the building if the VA decided to stop visitation, but that information was false. I would stay in his room, not leaving at all until he passes away, therefore not exposing myself to Coronavirus. But no, I can only see him when he’s down to “hours” left to live. Hours. By that point I assume he won’t know who I am, he won’t know I’m there and he will die thinking he was alone. The suspension of visitation defies logic, but then again, I understand it. If I, as the spouse of a dying veteran, am prohibited from visiting because of potential exposure, what about the staff? Don’t they leave the building? Go home? Shop for groceries? Who are they potentially exposed to when not at work? Can’t they carry the virus and not know it? All the same things that happen to the families of the hospice patients can happen to a staff person, right? We’re all human and have to live, but denying hospice patients human contact from their loved ones seems beyond cruel. My husband cries, a lot. When asked what I think about how to help him find a way to keep him from being so sad, I always told them, let him see his family more. He’s lonely. He’s dying from loneliness. Literally.

As I sit here at my computer, the tears don’t stop. I continue to cry without even knowing it now. I am beyond crushed in spirit, my heart completely shattered into nothingness. I know I shouldn’t feel guilt, but I do. I should be there right now, holding his hand, playing music for him, wiping his face to keep his beard and mustache free from being sticky with food, or nasal discharge. I would wash his face every day and then comb out whatever debris was stuck to his facial hair. Seems like something I shouldn’t worry about, right? I do. He deserves to be kept clean, and he is, but this kind of thing is not something the staff of hospice should have to do. Especially when I want to do it for him. Who will sit and pray with him? Who will whisper that it’s okay to go be with his Daddy, or to hug my Daddy around the neck when he seems him again. The staff of hospice don’t know the small intimacies shared between my husband and me on a daily basis. The songs I would play for him have meaning to us both, the playlists are personal. Who will turn the TV off or on? Make sure that channel 64 is on? Who will turn the volume down when it’s too loud?

I just can’t seem to make any sense of the why behind the decisions being made anymore. Why is it okay to make the sick and elderly die alone? Why is it okay that lack of leadership and lack of personal responsibility determine that my husband be dying from loneliness? I have tried for many months to figure out how human kind can care so little for their fellow human beings, and I am no closer to an answer today than I was when I was banned from seeing him back in March. Should I be grateful that I got to see him from August 30 thru yesterday? I am, but not in the way people seem to think I should be. I only got to see him because I pushed for him to be admitted to the hospital from the long term care home he was in. By the time I got to see him, he and the Grim Reaper were dance partners. Had I not insisted he be admitted to the hospital, I never would have known how sick he was. How much the forced isolation took from him. From all of us.

I am grateful that I am part of this group of people I call family. It breaks my heart to know that so many of us will soon lose the husband, father, Poppy, brother, father-in-love, uncle, friend and man that we all love. Some of us have had the chance to say goodbye to him, and some haven’t. I’ve said I love you to him so many times over throughout our lives together, I know he knows I love him. To know that our children have had to say goodbye to their beloved Daddy is beyond painful, but knowing that they have to explain to their children that Poppy is gone, is excruciating. Our three year old grandson is his Poppy’s heart, they all are, but the three year old? How do you tell him his hero is gone? No child should have to know that kind of pain…

I keep telling myself that I will be okay again, but I don’t really believe that anymore. I know we shouldn’t ask the age old question “What else can happen?,” but I do. I ask that because I truly believe there is no end to the suffering I am experiencing. At one point I thought I would be able to salvage some of myself and start over, now I’m so completely broken, there is nothing left to salvage. I am melancholy. I am bereft. I am floundering in a world that holds no joy for me right now. Joy. Something I have firmly believed in. Until yesterday. I believe in God, but do not consider myself a christian, just a believer. Christianity is not kind, I am. Or at least I try to be. Christianity is full of hateful people that think I am not child of the God because I don’t think like they do. I pray. Constantly. I believe that prayer is helpful, but prayer backed up with condemnation is not. I believe that Jesus loves me as I am, and if that’s not enough to make me worthy, it’s okay. My husband believes as well, and I will continue to pray for him. Always.

Again… and again… and again… I just keep thinking that what is happening to us is cruel and unnecessary. I know none of us get out of this life alive, but none of us should have die alone… People need their loved ones and I need to see my husband. Again… and again… and again…

Stay safe, be kind and have a Happy Thanksgiving… Until next time…

Photo by Barb Enos

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