I asked my children, "You've heard your mother and I talk about a situation like this?" They both replied, their statements were clearly, mama wouldn't want to be like this, not having a life. I am sure the words were varied and it was most likely unfair to put them on the spot, but I was about to make a life ending choice for their mother, my wife. Bear in mind my children are adults, my daughter with her own nearly adult children. I am sure the comments were as hard for them as it was for me. Joan and I had discussed this, discussed this, joked about it, talked about various options many times. It always ended with, if I can't have a productive active life I don't want one. We would also make comments about the costs of such long term life support when the chances of recovery were slim to none and neither of us wanted money spent that way.
Never, under any circumstances did I expect to find myself in this position. I always expected she would be making this decision about me. Statistically, logically, everything said I would die first. My plan was to die while traveling on business, accidental death, traveling death, the bonuses to insurances, card payouts, airline death benefits, rental car payouts would have left her more than comfortable no matter how long she lived. That was the plan. I guess God had another.
I gave the doctor my decision. The word burned, it was visible in my mind, it hurt. Logically I know it was the right decision, emotionally it will never be. All our planning, all of our discussions still didn't help make it feel right. Maybe those conversation aided me, I don't know. Spiritually it still feels right. I cannot imagine my unresponsive body slowly dying with my soul attached, not being able to move on. Picture being inside a room with no windows, doors, you want out but you can't leave, not until that last breath and the people who put you here only meant the best for you. In our desire to keep her, we would have imprisoned her until the machines could not keep her body alive.
Next came phone calls, family and some friends. Joans mother and her baby brother arrived, her younger brother was in Washington state and was getting a plane. My brother and his wife were packed and in a car heading up from Florida. I can't remember over the next 39 hours who arrived, when, how long they stayed but many came. Joans mother was hurt, angry, she sat at Joans side with her rosary. She commented that she held me responsible because her daughter was perfectly fine when she gave her to me 38+ years ago. There was nothing to say but "I'm sorry." Later I heard her stating God had a lot to answer for.
I am not sure what I said, to who, the next couple of hours were a blur. The hospital staff was amazing. The nurses main concern was getting Joan settled for the night in a room and on a morphine drip to ensure minimal to no pain. At some point Val and Cory brought in the grand kids. I could see how hard this was on them. I asked them if they wanted to talk to Nana, hold her hand and say their goodbyes she wasn't leaving this hospital, it would be their last chance to see her and talk to her. Austin walked over and what I remember is he commented through tears that Nana would never know his children or they her. After a while Joan's mom had to go home so Scott and she left for the night. I told my kids they might want to go home get sleep because it was going to be a long weekend. They were concerned about me being alone with Joan, but that is what I wanted. Friday night was going to be my night to make as much peace as I could with her.