Michael came home today. He was a wreck by the time I got to the hospital. They told him first thing but then the doctor’s office and the pharmacy delayed me for over an hour. He was so anxious and upset. He said to me, “I know this isn’t like me. I know I’ve always been independent, but I really need to know you’re near or you’re coming.” I kept reassuring him and he perked up as we were leaving.

Once home he sunk into the couch. Happy and relieved to be home. He kept smiling at me and occasionally he would wink. He fell off to sleep.

Then the hospice people rang the bell….

I was in some kind of holding pattern when he was in the hospital. I was so sick and just trying to get physically better so I could care for him when he came home. I didn’t let myself feel my feelings as I needed to send all of my energy into my physical well being.

I slept a lot. I tried to take care.

Emotions: Off.

I’ve slept at night, for the past 12 years, just knowing that Michael is there, even when not physically there, and that his love and trust is there. I’ve known that from the first week we met. This guy isn’t going anywhere. And now he’s going somewhere. And I can’t go with him.

He’s followed me all around the damn country. He’s followed my whims and my muses. He’s moved my kids, my cats, my plants, my furniture. He’s made cross country trips, side country trips, east to west to south and back north. He’s packed up more houses, by himself, while I’ve gone on to our new digs. He’s plastered and painted and spruced up. He’s attended my graduations and driven me to schools, to work, to pick me up and drop me off. He’s the world’s very best and most dependable chauffeur.

I remember when he was coming up from Texas to New York. I had bought a house close to water for his fishing. I had been in the house 3 months alone. I hated it. I don’t mind living in Manhattan alone but I hate the country alone. Gina had flown up the month before but he had been in Texas, fixing the house, selling the house and packing up the stuff. That night was the final move.

He had the cats in a van and it was raining hard. He blew a tire in Pennsylvania and called me to say he wouldn’t be there that night. He was going to sleep in the van. I was disappointed but of course I cared about his safety and it was cold and foggy and rainy.

About 4 hours later I woke to lights in the driveway. I ran downstairs, out into the rain in my pajamas and bare feet, and the two of us just stood there, in the pouring rain, holding each other. He said, “I guess I just wanted to come home.” We brought the cats in, had some coffee and then slept for a few hours. That night was only 2 years ago. I remember thinking it was some kind of picture perfect moment, standing in the rain together. Just happy to be together again.

Recently he started talking about moving back to Manhattan. “I know that’s where you want to be hon and you moved out for me. I’ll fish in Central Park.” He had fished in Central Park when I lived there but I know it’s not what he really likes. Fishing between swan boats and tourists isn’t fun. No we could get a house closer to the city when Gina graduates, I said. That would satisfy us both. Maybe I’ll learn to fish the Hudson, he said. All the times I suggested it, he poo poo’d. Now he was thinking about it. That’s how we tend to roll. We’re so different and have such different tastes and styles and wants and needs and we have been striving, since day one, for compromise. But we never fight about it. It’s just understood. We want what’s best for both of us. It’s the nicest relationship I’ve ever known. And it just works.

We were talking about that. Houses on the Hudson close to my first love, Manhattan. Harley Davidsons in the garage for our long bike rides. A bass boat to take to Lake George when I would suck it up and go up and read magazines while he looked at fish.

We’ve both had crazy relationships. We were both the scapegoat in our families. We understand each other at a level that is rare and wonderful….

….when hospice showed up today they interrupted the world I try to live in where I’m not losing the most wonderful being on the planet.

As the woman and I went through the program and I signed papers and gave her a list of meds, a voice in my head was saying, “My cat died last month. Do you know that? My cat. Isn’t that enough for one year? Why is there no cap on the number of loved ones you can lose at any given time. There should be a better rule book. This one stinks.”

A few more papers shuffled. Sign here. Sign here. Sign here.

My head nattered on, “I am a creature of comfort. I like things comfortable. Michael knows that. He knows how high maintenance I am. And he thinks I’m worth it. And he loves me. Why am I losing him? Why?”

Here’s the health care proxy. Here’s the power of attorney.

Shuffle shuffle.

“I can’t imagine going on without him. I know I will and I know I must but I also know I’ll never be so happy to see someone that I would run out in the rain, in bare feet, to greet them. No that will never ever happen again. It had never happened before. I guess if you’re going to run out in the rain for someone it should be someone worth it. And oh he is worth it.”

Shuffle shuffle.

“Do I look sad? You must see a lot of sad people? Is anyone as sad as me in the whole world?”

Shuffle,

sign,

goodbye.

The door shut and I am left alone with my grief and the folder in my hand explaining how hospice is for the terminally ill.

No Harley Davidson.

No fishing on the Hudson.

No dinners in Manhattan.

Just hospice.

And me.

As soon as the hospice lady left, he fell asleep, and I started to cry.

Emotions: On.

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