Posted by: Rob | August 17, 2008

Thursday August 17, 2006

This is a continuation from yesterday.

My nephew Cory had been with Shelley, playing his guitar for her, singing and talking, until it was time for me to get up and sit with her.  Two AM.

I got up, dressed and went downstairs to Shelley’s bedside.  I pulled up a chair and sat down.

I spent the next several hours with her, holding her hand, stroking it and talking to her.  Every now and then I would massage her hands and then alternate massaging her legs and feet.  She was wearing pressure “tubes” on her lower legs and feet due to the fluid build up.

Most of the time I spent talking to her.  I visualized for her, I reminisced.  I talked to her about all of the places we had been over the years.  I talked to her about all of the people we had met; all the friends we have scattered across two countries.

They say that, even though they are non-responsive, your bed-ridden loved ones can hear you.  I know Shelley heard me.  She was crying non-stop; I had to continually dry her eyes and her nose. I was crying non-stop too.

The sun was coming up again and it was a little after 6 AM when Shelley’s mom came in to sit with her.

What transpired for the rest of the morning and the early afternoon is a bit fuzzy for me.

The Home Care folks came again to check on us.  They checked Shelley’s vitals, did some dressing changes and helped with personal care, including changing the bed linens.

I talked with the nurse a little about Shelley’s breathing as it had gotten a little “rattly”.  While the noise presented no major health concern, the nurse said it was usually a little unsettling for everyone else.  There was something that the doctor could prescribe to reduce the rattle.  I just wanted her to not suffer, so we decided to get the prescription filled.

Family and friends began to arrive.  Thankfully, the task of collecting inbound air travelers was taken care of by others.  It’s hard to shake the mantle of “host” when people show up at your place.  So, with everything else I was dealing with I was trying to figure out where all these people were going to sleep.

Even though Shelley’s doctor was advising against my driving anywhere, I had resolved to make a quick run to town for the lastest prescriptions.  I would also swing by my work site to pick up our tent trailer to provide the additional needed accomodations.  (You can probably see why Shelley figured that I’m “task-oriented”.)

In between popping in to check on Shelley every now and then I was just moving.  I had just come in from the front yard (where most everyone was gathered) and met F in the front room.

“Dad,” she said, “I don’t like the sound of Mom’s breathing.”

I put my arm around her shoulder and told her, “Honey, the Home Care folks and the doctor told us this was what was going to happen.”  She looked dubious.

J was sitting with her mom, holding her hand and talking to her.  It was time for me to make the quick run to town.  But it was also almost 2 PM and time for Shelley’s next morphine shot.  I went into the bathroom to wash my hands in preparation for administering the morphine.  As I was drying my hands I heard J shout.

“DAD! She’s not breathing!”

I dropped the towel and ran into the bedroom.  F was already there.  Shelley wasn’t breathing.  I went to the head of the bed and touched her.  It felt odd.  She wasn’t breathing.  I tried to listen for her heartbeat, but couldn’t hear anything.  I held on to her and said, “Shelley, I love you.”

She was gone.  I hugged our girls as everyone else started filtering in to the room from outside.

She was gone…


  1. she was at home. with family. she knew how much she was loved.

    you got it right. didn’t seem to miss a thing…

  2. @daisyfae: At home. With family. She wouldn’t have had it any other way. Thanks for accompanying me on this remembrance.

  3. Dear Rob,

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I know how difficult it must be to revisit that time, and I hope the telling helps lighten your heart a bit.

    I have been identifying with your posts from the last few days because of so many similarities in our stories. Perhaps someday I’ll write as you have. I have never told the full story of the final days because it all seems so blurry, but maybe if I were to try it would bring those days into better focus.

    Love and (((hugs))) to you today. May happiness come to you from your precious memories of the past, the joy of the present, and gifts of the future.


  4. I don’t know what to say but I’m sorry, Rob. Hugs for you and your girls.

  5. Oh Rob,
    I felt I was there–experiencing your pain–understanding anyway…

  6. I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.

  7. Tearful hugs from here, too.

  8. Stella, TGLB, Marsha, Alicia and Sally:

    Thank you all for reading and lending your support.


  9. Painful to revisit, but I’m glad you’re putting this story out there.
    I love you.

  10. I am so sorry that you and your family have had to go through that. Having just recently lost both grandparents, I can only begin to understand the pain of nursing and losing to the degree you have.

    Thank you for sharing

  11. @jordan: Yep, painful to remember it and write it down. Glad you stopped by. I love you too.

    @angieh: Thank you for reading and for your condolences. It is appreciated. And welcome to my blog as well.

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