After a very long and difficult week, I am beginning to slowly surface.
Here's a recap of the last week.
Thursday the 29th (was that really just a week ago?), I got a message from my mom that the end was near for Wayne. After breaking down at work, I had some wonderful coworkers who came to my aid immediately. One of them offered to drive me to my parents' house, since Branden was already on his way to class.
I arrived around 4:00 that afternoon. I was able to talk to Wayne a bit that evening, and he responded a little with smiles and squeezing my hand. At 8:00 on Thursday evening, hospice began 24-hour care - providing a nurse to stay with Wayne around the clock. The end was near.
I stayed the night at my parents' house and Friday I spent the day with my mom. We got lunch at Taco Bell and stopped at the grocery store for some food, since we knew the house would shortly be filling with people.
Friday evening, my aunt and uncle arrived from Norman. My Aunt Julie is my mom's sister. They were there for the long haul. They went to a hotel nearby that evening after visiting with us for a while. I again slept on the spare bed in the back of my parents' living room that night.
Around 3:00 AM on Saturday morning, I woke up for my usual middle of the night bathroom break. As I used the bathroom adjoining Wayne's room, I could hear the fluid on his lungs with every breath. I briefly stopped in to look at him before going back to bed. I knew it couldn't possibly be much longer with him in that condition. It took me almost two hours to fall back asleep.
At 6:00 AM, I thought I heard my name being called out. I was so out of it that when I didn't hear it again, I assumed it was a dream, and laid back down. Minutes later, the hospice nurse came in to wake me up. He said my mom had asked for me. I knew what that must mean as I walked back to Wayne's room. I remember checking the clock in the kitchen as I walked past. It read 6:12 AM.
When I entered the room, my mom was standing next to the bed, holding Wayne's hand. His face was drawn and white. It took me a second to take in the fact that he was no longer breathing. I caught my mom's eye, and I knew. He was finally gone. Six months of suffering with lung cancer, and it was over.
We stayed there with him like that for a while, just the three of us and the nurse. When the time felt right (I think it must've only been 10 or 15 minutes), I began calling family. I called Julie at the hotel. I called my stepbrother Clay. I hated telling them that Wayne had passed, but I did it because it needed to be done. I called Wayne's brother Doug, who would pass along the information to the other brothers. Then I called Branden, who headed our way even though he had barely slept at all the night before.
Family gathered and paid respects to Wayne before the funeral home came. The Chaplain from hospice showed up, and helped us talk about Wayne and share stories. When the funeral home showed up, the Chaplain led us all in prayer around Wayne's body. Then we each told him goodbye in turn and left the room. When it was my turn, I kissed him on the forehead and said to him "I will always love you." Then they took him away.
Saturday passed in a haze. Slowly family began to leave, until it was just me, Branden, my aunt and uncle left with my mom. My mom's other sister showed up that afternoon, and stayed the night at my mom's house. I went home that night, and it felt good to sleep in my own bed again.
Sunday I went back to Arlington, and went with my the family to the funeral home to make arrangements. They were impressed with how much my mom already had prepared. She said that's what you do when you have six months to get ready for something like this. We ate lunch at El Chico after visiting the funeral home. My mom's youngest sister left that evening with plans to drive my grandparents down for the services on Thursday.
Monday I again went back to my parents' house, just to hang out. It felt good to be there - like that's where I was supposed to be. Thank goodness for my understanding boss and my company's excellent bereavement leave - I got the entire week off, and will only have to use one vacation day.
Tuesday I decided to stay home. Branden was off work for three days, and we really needed a day to do things around the house. I took my one-hour glucose test, which consisted of drinking a special neon-orange glucose drink and then having my blood drawn at the Birth Center an hour later. My results came back on the low side, but the midwife isn't worried, so I'll just take the test again at 28 weeks. Branden and I also voted, and got some other stuff done that day.
Wednesday Branden and I got ready and headed to my parents' house around mid-morning. When we got there, my mom had already received the call that we could go to the funeral home for a private viewing. We went - just the four of us now, as my uncle had driven back to Oklahoma to pick up my two cousins.
Wednesday evening was the viewing, and I was impressed by many things. So many flowers were delivered! It was a beautiful outporing of love. And so many people showed up. I personally had my three closest girlfriends, my second mom, and four coworkers show up to the viewing. It made me feel so loved and supported. My work also sent a huge, beautiful floral spray - another wonderful show of support. We got through the viewing, and when Branden was finished with class, he came to pick me up at my parents' house. It was after 11 before we got home that night.
Thursday (yesterday) was the funeral. It was every bit as difficult and emotional as I thought it would be. The service was beautiful, other than a couple of glitches from the sound system, and we got through those. I cried rivers. My mom finally let out some of her tears. My friend Ashley's aunt and uncle officiated, and they did an absolutely beautiful job. I am so very thankful to both of them for their help.
After the service, we went back to my parents' house for lunch. Wayne's friends from the lake parks (where he served as gate attendant in his retirement) already had a huge spread set out by the time we got there. There were tons of people who showed up to eat. The house was full, and it felt like a nice way to say goodbye. Slowly people trickled out. Branden went to class. Finally, it was again just me, my mom, my aunt, uncle and cousins. They left in the early evening hours, and I spent a couple of hours watching TV with my mom and packing up food to take home while Branden was in class. Finally, around 8:45, I left too. I left because my mom wanted and needed to be alone. I'm thinking of her today, but I know she needs her time. I know it's okay and even healthy for her to cry and grieve, and I'm letting her do that. She knows I'm only a phone call away.
Today I'm feeling okay. Not great, not all better, but okay. I feel like I got out a lot of the tears and emotion that had been building up yesterday. I know there will be more from time to time, and I know I have only begun to miss my father. But with only one step left in the process (a private family ceremony at the National Cemetery once he's been cremated), I am ready to begin healing.
I know this has been a long post, and if you have read this far, I'm impressed! I think this started out as a blog post and turned into a therapeutic way for me to write about the events of the past week and also keep a record of it for the future. I will add one more thing before I close out this post - and that is that I have been feeling little baby movements this past week, and it is incredible! I can't wait until they're stronger, so Branden can feel them too! It really has illustrated the circle of life thing for me. My baby boy awoke to me right around the same time Wayne left this earth. Seems more than just coincidence to me...