I had a feeling Michael was fading. He started to look through me instead of at me. He starts to lose his voice and then he drifts away.

Even though I’ve been here dozens of time, the grief feels new and raw each time. I want to scream, “Don’t go!” every single time.

He started with the hiccups. It’s a side effect of the Decadron. And his stomach was upset. Then his voice got weak. Then he started to fade. Fast.

Last night I was up with him trying to quell the hiccups. He takes Haldol for the hiccups and I gave him an extra Haldol and an extra Ativan to try to calm the roiling system. I tried to figure it out and give him something to soothe him without hurting him. I didn’t want to give him more meds, but I was beside myself trying to get him comfortable. He was so restless and would groan now and again. I would ask what’s wrong and he would say, “Nothing. I’m fine.”

Mr. Non Complainer. Fine my foot. I said, “Please don’t try to take care of me by saying you’re okay. Tell me what’s wrong and what I can do to help.” Nothing, he said, I’m fine. As he would writhe in pain and obvious discomfort.

So I kept looking for something to make it better but nothing did. I kept thinking, this is so hard. And then I felt guilty that I think it’s hard. Silly, I know. But I watch the feelings come up and feel them and watch them go. I feel loss, pain, confusion and guilt. I want him better. I want him back. I’m long past the bargaining phase but I’m not at the acceptance phase. I want to know what to do. If I can’t cure his cancer at least let me cure his hiccups. I can’t even do that.

I kept banging my head back on the sofa. It didn’t hurt but it was symbolic of the frustration I was feeling.

I put him on his side because he sounded like he was trying to expel something. I wedged a pillow on his back so he wouldn’t go on his back and possibly choke if he threw up. Then I fell asleep.

I woke up and the caregiver said he had been sick and had thrown up. I don’t know what possessed me to turn him on his side and put the pillow there. I never do that. But I’m glad I did.

He’s been sleeping all day. He’s gone again. But I’d rather he sleep than be up with hiccups.

But every time he fades my heart breaks. Seemingly all over again. Whenever he leaves I think I’ll handle it but then I dissolve in tears and can’t stop crying for hours. It’s like everything old is new again. Confronted with his leaving I fall apart each time.

People always wonder how people can grieve and grieve through terminal illness and then grieve again when the person is gone. I’ve heard people say that. People who have never been through terminal illness, obviously. How can you feel that much grief? Weren’t they sick a long time? Didn’t you have time to get used to it?

You never get used to it. Something in you simply refuses. Even if you’re an enlightened grief counselor. Something says nuh uh. We’re not going there.

For me, I feel as if it’s been just a series of leavings.

Of being left.

Over and over again.

And I get surprised, each time, at how much it hurts and how much grief is still in me. It’s strange even for me that the tears can just fall and feel as if they’re coming from such a deep place. Such a bottomless pit of despair and desperation.

It feels like the howling in my soul starts up again each time as if it were the very first time someone told me he was dying.

C.S. Lewis said, “Grief is a spiral, but am I going up or coming down?”

That is the question.

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