After being completely “normal,” entertaining the staff and residents with his songs, humor and antics, Sky was unable to bear weight on his left leg on Monday, February 15. X-rays showed no break in hip or pelvis. Doctor and staff were puzzled. He continued to not be able to bear weight, and cried out in pain whenever he was moved.
On Tuesday afternoon, I was granted permission for a “compassionate care visit” — my first time to be with Sky up close and personal for almost a year. On Wednesday morning, I arrived at his facility, I gowned, gloved and masked and was taken to his room where he sat uncomfortably in a wheelchair. I spent so much time hugging and kissing him, looking into his eyes. He was mostly unresponsive, but later “came to,” called me by name, and said, “I know what I’m ready for.” “The next world?” I asked. “Yes. I just want to rest.” Then he went to bed for a nap, and he fell asleep while we held hands.
An enormous burden was lifted. I was allowed to visit him whenever I wanted.
I returned on Friday to watch his physical therapy appointment as the therapist worked his limbs and tested his strength to try and get him to stand — not to walk, but to be able to easily transfer from bed to chair and back again without using the Hoyer lift. He cried out “no!” and was in pain, and he physically tried to resist her moving certain body parts. Eyes closed, hands clenched. He was not a happy camper.
Later, when we were alone, he opened his eyes, looked at me, and smiled his sweet smile in recognition, then closed his eyes. My plan was to return on Monday for his next PT appointment.
Saturday evening I got a call from the nurse. He had aspirated some liquids, and seemed to be losing his ability to swallow. Was it OK for him to have a pureed diet? How about no diet? was my reply. Sky’s greatest fear was that people would try to feed him when he did not want to be fed. I suggested stopping food altogether (they did)… then I asked, “Should I come in the morning?”
“Yes,” was the reply.
So Sunday morning, I packed a bag, left out enough food and water for my cats, and headed south to his facility. When would I be back home?
When I arrived, his breathing was very labored and I was sure he would die any minute. His out-of-state sisters all spoke their goodbyes to him with my phone held to his ear, and our kids — who live locally — arrived for their visits. Visiting is awkward with gowns, masks and gloves — damn this pandemic — so we didn’t really have the family-hang-out time we would have had without Covid-19.
Sunday evening around six, he had about an hour of fairly lucid talking and singing — though we could only understand about a quarter of what he said his voice was so soft, and Dana and I are not that great at “Name that Tune.” At one point he said, “The end is near.” Dana asked, “How long?” Sky replied, “Four or five.” Though when Dana pressed him, he could not say four or five what. We let it be. He closed his eyes, and drifted away. Dana went home, and the staff brought in a cot for me to spend the night.
Monday was a day of vigil, phone calls, texts and emails to friends and family. I wanted to break the news that Sky was dying and not have people learn that he died out of nowhere. It was bittersweet. It was hard to explain to people that I was both very happy and very sad, all at the same time. Sky remained unresponsive, but not in pain, throughout the day and night.
Monday night into the wee hours of Tuesday (today)were a struggle for me while Sky “slept” along peacefully, thanks to the tender care of the staff. It was hard for me to sleep listening to his breaths, wondering if the next one would come or not. I managed only three hours, and finally got up and sat by his side until dawn.
I steeled myself for another long day of vigil as his condition, his breathing, had not changed in 36 hours. I was exhausted, and I wondered how long this could go on, how long I could go on.
The staff got me a delicious breakfast, and I was eating as the aides were bathing and changing him. He was on his side facing me, and it looked like he wasn’t breathing… but then I saw a small breath. The women settled him onto his back, and then called to me.
He was not breathing, a blank look on his face. We all stared in shock, he took a tiny breath, and then was still.
My beloved and best friend is gone from this earth. I will miss him dearly. But I am so glad this is over for him… and me.
Thank you all for following along on our journey, This blog meant the world to Sky.