Things got quiet as everyone left. Joan was breathing slowly, her right hand the only thing she could move and that was very slight. I held it, talked to her, cried, prayed, offered myself in her place. I guess in similar situations all spouses would do that. We all know God doesn't work that way, those kinds of swaps don't happen. Does that make it hollow?
I left her side only once for a bathroom break, made sure the nurse was there and got back as quickly as I could. I walked around the bed, the room, nervous energy, I can't remember order, just a blur of the night.
Everything I could picture that I should apologize for went through my head, everything I ever did or thought I did wrong flashed.
Later in the night my mind played every possible way how this could have been prevented. What if we had pursued a sleep study to help with her sleeping issues, what if she had lost weight and taken her blood pressure and cholesterol meds religiously, how could I have made her do those things or convinced her they were needed.
Would she still be here?
Later came the regrets for all the vacations we never took, opting for the rational approach to spending money. Then the house we had just purchased, we always wanted a rocking chair front porch, it had it, and two rocking chairs. We always wanted a screened in back porch, it had that too.
A kitchen she liked even if she did want it updated. A yard we could work together on and manage.
Basement apartment with its own kitchen. Close enough to her mother to go over every day, close enough to our son to visit as well.
Then the joke we always made came to haunt me. We got married on Feb 23rd, I started with IBM on March 3rd. We always kidded if I lost my job I would lose her, if I lost her I would lose my job. I had left IBM 22 months earlier. Yeah it's not like that makes the events linked but out of 38+ years, 22 months is nothing, it felt like our joke came home to bite us.
Here is where things get out of order as the morning arrived. I think Joans oldest brother arrived. Afterwards my son arrived. It may be out of order but that is what I remember. They convinced me to go lay on the couch for a while. They also needed time to be near her, talk with her, say things to let her know we were there. Sometime later my daughter arrived, she hates hospitals and this wasn't helping things. She would stroke Joans hair, talk with her.
It was now Saturday mid-morning.