Friday, November 14, 2008


I looked at the MRI again - with Lisa and with Joan, after her arrival, at least half a dozen times. There was a decision to be made. The neurologist was quite clear, they would do whatever I decided, including a feeding tube and long-term care.

She and our family doc believed that Tom was incapable of regaining consciousness. He had a small amount of brain damage on the left side from the first stroke and devastating damage from this last incident. The bi-lateral nature of the damage was one of the reasons the neurologist doubted he could wake up. She also felt that if Tom regained consciousness, he would be profoundly deaf, blind and physically and mentally incapacitated.

Tom and I had discussed our feelings and preferences if either one of us were ever incapacitated. We promised that we would not let the other live in a vegetative state. It is one thing to have a hypothetical conversation while you are doing your will - it is quite another to be faced with that decision. Remembering our conversations, pacing the hospital corridors, holding Tom, asking for spirit guidance. The decision was made.

I do not remember which day we removed the apparatus that was breathing for Tom. They asked if I wanted to step out - NO! - I stood and held his toe while they took the tube out of his throat. Once that was done, the room became very quiet - only the occasional beep of the heart monitor.

Friends and family started to arrive and spend their final time with Tom. I would leave the room and give each person their private time. Each night I "slept" with Tom - they let me be in the bed with him, with his arms arranged around me. We "talked" long into the night. There was no sleeping - just dozing - being together. The last night, Cheryl, our night nurse, came in to check on us and as she left the room, she said, "enjoy his warmth." It was much later that the full meaning of that statement hit me.

Early on Sunday, November 14th, Cheryl and I bathed Tom and changed the bed. It was still dark. I asked for a razor, Cheryl went to get one for me. While she was gone, I put the bed railing down and held Tom's head in my arms and said, "I love you - you are the love of my life." I kissed Tom - his eyes slowly opened (the first time since I found him) and a golden light shown out from them. Tom took one deep breath and I felt his spirit leave his body. My lover, my friend, my flyboy, my husband - the love of my life.

I have walked this path with the love and support of so many. I wept; I denied; I fell down; I got up; I honored my grief - I walked through it.

I honored my husband and our love. I have come to a place of acceptance. I always will love Tom - death does not end love. I am whole and forever transformed and yet, I will forever have a crack in my heart. I always will have moments that sneak up on me and I will cry out his name. I am grateful that I gave and received unconditional love. It is all that matters in this life.

I am alive.


  1. suzann, you write so beautifully of the last days and moments you shared with tom. such tenderness.

    unconditional love is a wondrous gift, not only to the receiver but to the giver. you are blessed.


  2. Oh Suzann...this is so heartbreakingly beautiful....I feel I was there with you and I could see and feel it all...!

    You are a very brave woman and have so much love in your heart and in your being. To go through this terrible loss, and come out the other side and be able to write so beautigully about it---This is a great great gift to all of us, my dear.

  3. It's very sad to lose the love of your life but you can be grateful you had him for as long as you did. Some never get that.

    My husband was with my father when the soul left the body. Definitely it's something an aware person does know and encouragement that this is not all there is.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story of Tom's last days with us...


  5. Suzann,
    it took my a lot of time to comment, as my eyes are filled with tears.

    You describe so "damned" good and honestly.

    Forever a very special friend you will be

  6. You and Tom were so truly blessed to have had one another Suzann...and you will forever be blessed with the most special memories of him. What a journey you have made my sweet friend. So much love to you..... ~Joy

  7. Your amazing courage shines through each of your 'remembering' posts. Thank you for sharing your journey and reminding us all to appreciate the unconditional love in our own lives.


  8. It's amazing how long it takes for us to get strong enough to recount the actual stories. i will be 3 years out from my husband's death next week, and i haven't really told what happened yet (though I'm practicing digging some ugly holes).

    Thanks for telling it and sharing your journey! I'm a UU, too!