Saturday, August 11, 2012

Uncharted Territory

I last posted on March 13, 2012.  At that time, I was exploring what is meant by "coming home" in a number of contexts.   One of those contexts was one of someone "being called home to heaven".   Following my retirement and a wonderful trip to Wales, that someone in my life was my beloved husband, John Anthony Taylor.

Our final adventure together began as my Wales trip ended.  I knew that he would be going into the hospital when I returned.   Even as he picked me up at the airport, he was clearly struggling and I felt some pangs of guilt at having gone away.   We stopped on the way home, retrieved the dogs from the kennel, and I spent the next few days getting over the jet lag.  He was admitted to the hospital on May 13th for a procedure on his heart that was supposed to help with his congestive heart failure symptoms.   On June 13th, John was flown (and I drove) to Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina for evaluation to determine if he would receive a rather complex heart and aortic arch transplant.   His condition deteriorated rapidly after he arrived at Duke, and he developed pneumonia and a renal infection.   He had a balloon pump inserted on or around June 20th and he was intubated on June 23rd.   On July 5th, the doctors told me his kidneys were starting to fail.  I called his family and suggested that they speed up their plans to come to Durham.  They arrived on the evening of July 6th.  We had the balloon pump turned off, the blood pressure elevating medication stopped and the breathing tube removed around 11:30 am on July 7th; and he was gone within ten minutes.

The next few hours were spent in meetings with various members of the Duke University's representatives for decedent affairs.  My sister-in-law telephoned local funeral homes and cremation services in Durham.   We selected a lovely box for the ashes.  John's body was removed from the hospital and his cremation was scheduled for the following Tuesday.  His brother and younger niece came to go with me to some appointments there in Durham and take care of some other items of business that needed to be done on Monday.  We decided on the date for his memorial service and wrote the obituary.  I waited in Durham for the appointed time to pick up his ashes on Wednesday, then I returned  to Virginia.

The first few days I was back, I was a veritable whirlwind of activity.   I cleaned up the kitchen, went to work out, and tried to get back to my Paleo diet.  Everyone thought I was handling things so well.  I was so proud of myself even as deep down, I knew better.  I decided that I needed to visit my family, so I made arrangements to attend my family reunion.  Then the memorial service was on July 31st.  Once my family had left, and I was alone at the house, it really hit me; John is really gone and he's never coming back!  I am never going to have a conversation or share a hug with him ever again!  I was gutted; completely devastated.   That evening, I received word that the cousin who, along with his angel of a wife, had been my support system in Durham, had also passed away. 

Folks, the little boat that is carrying me down the river of my life has been tossed about on whitecapped waves, repeatedly bashed against the rocks and has now become marooned on a rather large boulder in the middle of the stream.  I am wounded in a way I never imagined, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to get off this rock and back to floating down the stream.   The storms and flooding of retiring, the exhileration of going away for my first international trip, and the ordeal of watching the man I love lose his battle to stay alive have given way to the receding waters that have left me stranded with my oars out of the water.  Despite my attempts to push myself off and back to the water, the vessel simply will not budge.   So I sit here watching the currents that comprise the days of my life go by, wanting to get back into the stream but not being able to face the prospect of the storms and floods that would either enable me to float off this rock, or scuttle the ship completely.   I have tried so hard to grab onto the ropes being tossed out to me, but I keep coming up short.  So the sun's searing rays pierce my brain, resulting in my feeling burned, dried out and thirsty, all the way into my soul. 

I know because I believe in the trinitarian God that at some point, I'll have the strength to work the oars, to catch a rope and to get back into the river.  I don't know when that will happen, where the currents will take me or what God has planned for me at this point in my life.   When I look back as far as my last post, I realize that I still have quite a number of my homes as defined therein.  I still have my families, and friends.   I still have the house in which my husband and I lived out our entire marriage.  I still have the dogs we adopted 14 and 10 years ago.

So, I now have to figure out how to steer the vessel in the river once I get back into it.  I'm sure that will take some time.  I will probably allow my calculations and chartings to spill onto this page from time to time, and I ask in advance for your forgiveness.  I've never been a widow before.  I'm in uncharted territory now.

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