A Cancer Journey: Lou Goes Home

A Cancer Journey: Lou Goes Home
This is the final installation of our Head of Accounting’s story as she watched her husband’s life come to an end almost a year ago today. To read all of her story, click here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Part 4: Lou Goes Home

Happy Birthday, Babe!  The day this blog posts will be your first birthday in heaven,  and my first without you.  I think I will go to Dana Point with Bella and April if she is free. Then have the family over for pizza.  You know we lost Molly the first Sunday in March, so it’s just Bella and me now.”   

 

Part of my healing journey is journaling fairly regularly to Lou.  I also let him journal back to me through my fingers on the computer keyboard.

But . . . I am a year ahead of myself . . .

Let me tell you something of those last weeks we had Lou. They kept increasing his medications and he hallucinated quite a bit. Some of the medications were totally wrong for him and caused terrible side effects. Also, Lou fell several times.  The nurse took everything away and said it was time for him to remain in bed.

It was 4/15. I was trying to finish our taxes on the computer before midnight. Lou fell, trying to get to the room where I was working. If he could not see me it became a huge source of anxiety for him. I strapped him in the wheelchair, so he could be with me. When he was too exhausted to sit, I helped him back into bed. I tried to get him soothed enough for me to finish. We were both so stressed.  None of his medications worked that night.  He could not sleep. The nurse on night call told me to increase the one he was having the psychotic reaction to and someone would come soon. Lou got much worse. I panicked and became hysterical. That immediately caused Lou to find the strength to become normal & sane and overcome the effects of the medication.

During that time of him calming me down and holding me beside him in his narrow bed, Lou spoke to me and gave me what I have come to think of as his final benediction over me: Wonderful words from God through him, that will carry me the rest of my life.  We finally fell asleep in each others’ arms.

About 5 am a nurse came and told me they were changing the medication and making him “comfortable”. They put him into a “medical coma” which he never really came out of, except once. He had had no water to drink for 8 days by then, because they said he would choke if given any. When he decided to talk, he fought and fought to find and loosen his tongue. “I am dying!” he cried out. That was all he was able to say.

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mingman

 

On Lou’s last night, my girlfriend took the night watch while I got a medicated sleep.  I woke with a start that morning to the song rolling in my head by the Kinks:  “So Tired of Waiting for You.”  Was it Lou trying to get my attention? I flew out of bed and to his side.  His hand was warm but most of him was cold. I spoke to him and told him over again and again how I loved him and to go with God.

That was it. He was gone. It was 0830 on April 25, 2013.

I had no training as a celebrant, but I knew it was important that Lou’s service do him justice and share his story. I figured I needed to be the one to do it. His unfailing love and care for me had been unparalleled. Outside of me, no one was more important than his loving, faithful daughter April and his grandkids. I simply couldn’t just do facts and statistics. Lou was not that kind of a guy.  He deserved more.

I ended up giving a eulogy that helped people see the man, the one who existed behind closed doors, the one our family loved and respected so much.  Then, it was important to show him visually from a child on up in a video tribute with meaningful songs in the background. Our pastors spoke, our loved ones sang: “It is Well with my Soul” (and it was: He went straight to the arms of Jesus), and “Mansion over the Hilltop” (his favorite, and where I know he is living today.)

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/eAlisa

 

We ended with everyone singing together: “Blessed be your Name”  The words described perfectly how Lou and I chose to view this horrible, shockingly short ordeal of pain we lived through together.  The Lord gives and takes away.  It would have never been our choice for this to happen to us. Still, our hearts chose to say “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”.  As I am writing this, I am thinking of Easter.  Because of the resurrection, I know Lou also lives.

Four short months of suffering together, has been followed by the hardest year of my life.  But make no mistake: It is my pain, for MY Loss, not Lou’s.

Still, I am getting by.  I have my family, my faith, people who care about me and my occasional Lou sightings.

So, Happy Birthday, Babe.  And thank you… You were amazing!  I truly had the best!

|| what do you think?

How have you commemorated anniversaries like these?

What practices have you found helpful in your grief journey?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

57 Comments

  1. Fitz says:

    Anne,
    Thanks for sharing your heartfelt journey. You are truly an amazing person. We are so blessed by your words and your presence in our lives. You will never get over the loss of Lou but you will get through it with faith, love and hope. God bless you.
    Love,
    Fitz

    • Anne Anderson Collins says:

      Fitz
      Well, you get to see my at my worst and best in our office. Thanks for your gentle caring and your patience when I am in a fog or losing it, and your protective support when I need that, too. Then on the good days, you get paid back double.
      Here’s hoping this 2nd year puts me way down the road to a much happier place than I have been.
      Love
      Anne

  2. Mike Bayer says:

    Enjoy your walk with him today…and Him.

  3. Patricia Kolstad says:

    My sweet friend . .
    Thank you for offering strangers a glimpse of your life through Lou’s dying process. As I watched from a distance, and sometimes up close and personal, I realized through the words of your cancer journey with Lou, that you were mentoring me for things to come. I was privileged to be by Lou’s bedside a few times and watch you lovingly prepare his medications and gently give them. You showed great strength throughout, even in your weakest moments.
    For years, you and I have been on a journey together. We have talked about this at length. And as you bring this very poignant year to a close, you will continue to “say good-bye” to what was and begin your “new normal”, moving ever so gently into this new world.
    I love you and appreciate always, your wisdom, your enduring strength, and your willingness to walk along side of me. Well done, my friend . . Well done!
    Lovingly,
    Pat

    • Anne Anderson Collins says:

      Thank you, Pat. Well, since you are older, why don’t you go first for awhile?? I am tired of blazing trails. Seriously, God plans the trip and I choose to gladly follow. This part is not fun, but hoping things can lighten up a little in the 2nd year. Thanks for always being open to my never ending opinions and observations.
      Love
      Annie

  4. Lori says:

    Annie,
    Thank you for giving us all this intimate view of your journey. “God was not helpless among the ruins”. Even when Lou was at his weakest, God gave him the strength to pull out of his medicated state and take care of you as he had for so many years prior to taking ill.
    Your love story is beautiful and it is in times such as this, “in sickness and in health” that you proved you were up to whatever test was brought your way. You lovingly cared for your Lou, just as I know he would have you if it would have been the other way around.
    I know it has been a hard year. I can see it in your eyes when you are having a particularly hard day. I want to be able to race in and say something profound to take your pain away. That is my protectiveness over you. The reality is, there are no perfect words. I can hug you, tell you “I Love You” and listen to you tell me about how you are doing. I wish I could do more, but the reality of grief is that we have to experience all of the emotions.
    I am always here to listen…
    Love you so much,
    Lori

    • Anne Anderson Collins says:

      Lori
      I haven’t always let you in close enough to say something profound. Sometimes, I just can’t talk about it, without totally losing part of the day to overwhelming emotions, so when you want to be of extra comfort, I just go with the hug. Believe me a hug and I love you or I’m thinking about you help more than you know. Til I get more time behind me, talking isn’t always the greatest thing. I can write easier, somehow.

      Thank you for your love and care over here in Bldg 2.
      Love
      Anne

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