To Never Say Goodnight

*warning* The following blog is very descriptive of the death of my husband. I never never shared the details on this blog, and only with close friends/family. I recently submitted this to a writing competition in which it was declined for the award, but I still feel it’s a very emotional, raw piece, that I’m ready to share with the world. It goes along with this week’s emotionally intense and open blogs.

To Never Say Goodnight

The night before my husband died, he asked me to stay with him in his hospital room. It was unusual for me to spend the night there, especially since earlier that evening he had told me to go “home” – my temporary home being in the spare room of a family friend’s row home located on the other side of the city. I agreed, not being able to say no to his weak smile, tired eyes, fading life. I reclined in the lounge chair next to his bed where he lay; hooked up to feeding tubes, and IVs pumping him full of saline and morphine.

We were told we had several weeks left, and now would be a good time to consider Hospice. We spoke with our families that night, arranging travel so that we could all be together, briefly entertaining the idea of going to any Hospice that had an ocean view, but there were none. I made him talk about his funeral wishes, despite his hesitancy to give into talk of death or mortality. I snapped a photo of us with my phone, red eyed from tears, faces wrinkled with exhaustion. I took the photo not knowing it would be our last together. Eventually he told me he did not want to speak of his impending death, but just wanted to close his eyes to relax.

The drugs had taken hold of his mind, keeping him in a cushion of comfort that was completely discomforting to everyone but him. I knew the morphine was lessening his pain, but I also knew it was slowing his breathing, his life. The visit from my brother and his fiancé was important but none of us felt like he was there with us. He was already somewhere else, hopefully somewhere better.

I lay beside his bed throughout the night, turning my head towards him as I lingered between groggily awake and pathetically asleep. I held his hand which was dry and cracking, cold. There was no response when I squeezed. I did not want to wake him, yet I wanted to look into his eyes again, to connect with him once more. He was not there. The night passed slowly, and whenever I would wake I would pray. At first, it was just to give him comfort to release him from his pain. The more times I woke I knew that the only full release from his pain would be for him to die, which only meant immense pain for me. I had no choice. I heard his breathing, suffering through each in and out as his chest rose and fell. I could feel his pain seeping out of his pores; it was no longer fair to ask him to keep fighting. I prayed for him to die. I laid my head on his lap, sobbing as I begged God to take his life, because his pain was no longer worthwhile. I prayed for strength to watch over his family, to make that call, to be their support, as they had been mine.

I do not remember much after that prayer, I just felt him slipping away. He was losing control of his body, and I called the nurses in to care for him several times throughout the night. I had finally fallen asleep, and woke with a start when I realized he was barely breathing. I immediately rang the call bell. When the nurses came in to check him, I watched in pain and agony as his nearly lifeless body was lifted and prepared for examination. This was it. I stepped outside the room with my cell phone in hand. I spoke to my parents and his mother. I forced them to acknowledge what was about to come true. As I spoke the words that he would die today, I broke. It was time. I made them believe me, told them to get to Baltimore as soon as possible, today was the day, I was certain. They were uncertain. We had been told weeks.

I walked back into his room, and saw him lying in clean sheets, looking comforted and quiet. I sat next to him, embraced his hand, and saw his chest rise just a few more times before it rose no longer. I was hysterical, not knowing whether to call the nurses to tell them to come save him, or to give in. I called them, but when they came, I simply looked at them and said that he was gone. The doctor came soon after to pronounce his death. I stayed with him, holding his hand and stroking his hair waiting alone for my family to arrive. That was October 28, 2008; he was 36, I 24. We had been married just a year and a half, and four months earlier, a diagnosis of Angiosarcoma took everything from us.

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Comments 12

  1. Thanks for sharing Brenda. You are amazing and it’s great to see how God is using you and your story to bless, help and heal others.

  2. Wow. You have made me appreciate and love the people in my life so much more. I don’t have much personal experience with death, and none with anyone very close to me, but I’m getting to a time in my life when I know it can’t be avoided much longer. Thank you for helping me to prepare, and to better appreciate the time we have left.

  3. Very brave to share this and I am sure it was difficult to write. I too knew the day TJ was going to pass. He was under hospice care but at home. I informed his family that today is the day and hospice confirmed my suspicions. They refused to believe it…they went out to lunch. YES, they went OUT to lunch!! He passed while they were happily munching away at their favorite local restaurant. To this day it is their belief that I killed him while they were gone! Needless to say I have severed ties with his crazy family.

  4. Brenda, thanks for going back there to write this….you are special and I look so forward to meeting you soon.
    Thank you for opening your wounds so other people’s can heal… and so that their journey may be better because of what you lived through.
    God Bless You.

  5. Brent-thank you for taking the time to read this little blog, and for your insight. I have learned valuable lessons about preparing for death. Most people think it’s such a morbid thing to perpetuate, but I believe it is not only vital, but a relief once it’s done. While it’s taken me more than two years, I have finally signed for my first major life insurance policy (no death threats please) and need to begin writing down my wishes for when I pass. I just want to make sure all my ducks are in a row, so that when it’s my time to go, it can be done as I wish, not as my family assumes it to be.

  6. Thank you Stu-I’ll continue sharing as long as the world keeps listening!

  7. It’s unbelievable, Sandy, how people react to the news of impending death. My family didn’t embrace it either, until about 15 minutes after I called to tell them I thought he MIGHT die, that he was actually dead. It was devastating. There had been so many close calls up until that point, that I think everyone was surprised when he finally did pass.

  8. Sonali, I too look forward to meeting with you. It was an intensely difficult piece to write, but I want to let people into those dark areas that still need to heal.

  9. Hi,

    Thank you for publishing this. I sat with my 37 year old husband in the hospital when he died in September 2010. He had been diagnosed with Angiosarcoma only 3 months earlier. Knowing there is another woman out there in the world who has experienced and possibly understands what I have and am continuing to deal with is very comforting.

    Keep on keeping on.

    Geri x

  10. Hello Geri-I’m sorry that a similar circumstance found you here, but I’m glad to hear you feel you are no longer alone. You keep on too!

  11. Brenda – my husband passed from cancer on September 4, 2010… Reading your story of your husband’s death was so touching. It was so similar to my husband that I had tears. I too, begged for him to leave me, knowing how painful it was going to be for me. My husband was 53, I was 41. We had been married 4 years and 3 days.

    Sandy – my husband’s wish was to have no one present at his death but me. His family made everything a circus. We knew he was going to die. He told me what time he was going to die (he said “4:56”; he died at 5:20). Every time I left the room (hospice) to use the facilities, etc. I told him, this is your chance if you don’t want me to be here. Otherwise, I am not going anywhere. I saw him take his last breath as I came back into the room from a quick break. His family hates me for not allowing them to be with him. I was following his wishes. He was a very private person. It took them over an hour to get back to the hospice when they were just 5 minutes away.

    May God’s love surround you.

  12. Thank you for sharing Susie. I too felt that need. I was with him alone, just by chance, as we thought we had weeks/months left and his family was going to come down the end of the week. I walked in and saw his last breath as well. Walking the journey with you..let me know if you need any support!

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