Scott's Passing

December 06

On my way to San Diego, train was delayed leaving SLO, conductor said that someone (a pox on them!) had pulled the emergency brake so the train had to be checked out. So here I am, missing Scott whom I didn't appreciate enough while he was around, wish I had. I always saw myself as ripped off, saw him as undeserving of me, and now that he's gone, guess what. I wish he were here. But not as he descended into disability and death. I wish he were here as he was ten years ago, bopping around like a bunny rabbit. Go in peace, Scott.

Alone now. Alone. Takes time for it to sink in. For a few days after his passing, I looked in his room to check up on him. I momentarily fretted when out, am I taking too long, will he be OK, has he had his shower? Met with Mark the chaplain yesterday. Long chat, lots of laughter, but also recounting their talks together for nine months. Mark said he'd gotten really attached to us, that it's one of the pitfalls of doing this service, the fact that it comes to an abrupt end when people pass away. More so with Scott, who was at death's door back in February and went on to live for another eight months. Hospice clients usually die soon after Hospice is called. Of course, Sarah passed away as the intake nurse sat in the dining room filling out paperwork. That was a REALLY short service.

I am surprised at how little there is to do now. Nary a load of wash, a dishwasher load once a week, sip a leisure cup of coffee in the morning, no fielding of phone calls and scheduling of aides. I miss Hospice, though. They were around all the time, now they vaporized as if sucked up by a Kansas twister. Miss Stella especially, and Bianca the nurse, and Mark the chaplain. I still want to keep my cell phone, will piggyback on Carol's Verizon and save some 60 bucks a month. The reason for a cell phone was, originally, to round up Scott at Costco. He had a way of disappearing, was usually found at the book displays, but not always. I got really sick of chasing after him.

Met with the attorney yesterday, or Stephen Hall's assistant who lives a few blocks from my house. My house. Got to get used to calling it that. I resented how Scott called the Sequoia place "our" house, when it was all my investment. He also took full credit for my computer help such as working on Response Guide graphics, making PDFs, etc.--how dare he? Now it all seems so petty. If I was going to feel used and abused, I should have called it quits way sooner.

Sarah was so worried about what would happen to Scott in his old age with no children and no bloodline. Little did she know. Or does she? Sarah, I took care of your boy to his last breath. He was OK, really, and your worry about my being older and dying before him was pure waste. There's no way that the kids, or at least Eric, would abandon Scott if it came to that.


Approaching Irvine now, on our way to San Diego. I got completely mixed up as to north/south. Feels like the shore is to my right, when it is usually reversed as the train goes round in LA. I think I figured it out. The train we changed to was already facing south. Gotta be.

Hard to look at the couple of photos of dead Scott in his bed. I shot the two photos just for the record, glad I did. My mainest man is gone. I wished and prayed for his passing, and now here it is. He had become a burden to himself and others, what was the point. Wish I had hugged and comforted him. But he probably didn't want that. I know he missed cuddling with me in the queen bed, but that became impossible after Hospice brought in the "medieval" (Chris's word) bed. Not that I would have wanted to cuddle anyway. He'd become too aversive by then, this old decaying guy in the back bedroom. Life had left him months before he passed.

Gosh, why is this train trip to San Diego bringing up so much stuff? But it is what it is. I could use some happiness right now. I would like him alive, but not as he died. I would have liked him to be as he was ten years ago, bopping around, cooking Thanksgiving dinner with a glass of wine on one hand and a wood stirring spoon on the other. The joking Scott who teased me, planned numerous house remodels, packed lunch for our trips, introduced me to fine wines (fine as of that time, my tastes have refined!).

No, it's just the weight of sadness. This is grief, and everybody must go through it. I now understand why Mother lay down in the bed with Father, after they found him dead and cold. She wanted to warm him up, take care of him, breathe life back into the cells of his body. I wanted to warm up Scott. We want to warm up those we love, those who are close. Miriam judged Mother for laying down with the dead body, like it was a sin. What a bitch. But how would Scott have come back, had I been able to warm him up? As a decayed body, a ghoul, a specter? Would I really want that? No, I think it's just the caretaking instinct, the drive to keep loved ones warm and clean and well fed.

11.26, Wednesday, Thanksgiving eve 2014

Scott passed away 1:30 pm. He just faded out in his sleep. I had been out shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, preoccupied with "stuff", making sure I had everything for the dinner menu. Coming home, I checked up on Scott and the Search and Rescue friend who had volunteered to read to him while I was gone. I knew he had spent all night on his right side and really should be turned over. I asked her if she could help turn him onto his other side before she left. Yes, of course, she said. We did so, with some difficulty--he was quite unconscious by then. If you have ever tried to move a body that can't help out, you know how heavy it suddenly becomes. We finally managed to move him into what looked like relative comfort, propped up with pillows. I thanked her for the reading and the help, and walked her to the front door.

I felt quite tired, so after drinking a glass of water I retreated to my bedroom for a short nap. I woke up to an eerily silent house, so I walked into his room to see what was up. His face looked ashen. I could feel no breath--put a mirror to his face to see if it fogged up--and his skin was hard and cold, while earlier on he'd been running a fever as high as 103 degrees. Still in disbelief, I felt for a pulse, on the wrist, on the carotid artery, and there seemed to be a faint heartbeat, or was this my own heartbeat I felt? Deep down I knew that Scott had left his body.

The Hospice nurse came quickly in response to my call. She checked for a heartbeat and pronouced him dead at 1:52 pm.

11.25, Tuesday

mt: I feel desolate, JC dear.
jc: I will never leave you comfortless. That is my promise to you.
mt: So I must be declaring myself outside the Kingdom, outside the Father's House.
jc: Exactly. Why would you do a thing like that?!
mt: Because I want to make myself small and wounded.
jc: And why make yourself small and wounded?
mt: Well, JC, it's there. It's Scott's dying in the back bedroom. It's my heavy, heavy heart.
jc: Grief is OK. It's a human emotion that signals transition into a new stage of life.
mt: Wish I had taken Scott out to the park a few more times. He really appreciated that.
jc: Yes, you do wish that. And you forget the times when you did just the right thing for him.
mt: I so want to take care of him, like he's my baby right now. I know it hasn't been like this all the time.
jc: He did have a way of rejecting your affection. A little bit of affection was all he could take.
mt: So . . . sigh. We so much want our loved ones to be happy and content and successful.
jc: Don't forget God's Truth: You ARE as God created you. It is fine to have grief. You are losing your companion. This too will pass.
mt: But I must not jump into feeling happy, when I am really feeling sad and lonely and lost.
jc: No, please don't. You know I love you. You know you are God's Beloved. The very flowers on the path lean to salute you, the wonderful creation of God's Heart.
mt: Sigh. Thank you, Bro.


11/24, Monday

Been quite a day, this day. Scott developed loud hiccups (ataxia? who knows), continuing, unrelenting, unmanageable hiccups alternating with bouts of coughing. I felt really bad for him, because he's already so weak he can barely lift cup to lips, and yet couldn't get any rest. Hospice prescribed Lorazepam, an antianxiety drug of the benzodiazepine family, also used as muscle relaxant. But the pharmacy couldn't deliver it before the evening, so the nurse fed him a crushed tablet of Narco which I had in the fridge. Miracle! Scott stopped hiccuping and fell asleep within 20 minutes. Still sleeping as I write, 7:30 pm. Whew.

Me? There's grief, sorrow at his suffering, busyness with his care and conferences with caretakers. There's something about death that transcends the daily reality, a mythical weight of might-have-beens alternating with a profound, surprising inner push to heal him, keep him comfortable and washed and peaceful. I feel like a tigress licking her cubs. I now understand how Sarah kept feeding and watering Bill, her companion who took to bed for 18 months, with nary a complaint, with infinite patience and tenderness.

11/23, Sunday

Leaves fall outdoors, Scott deteriorates indoors. I feel sad to see him this way, feeble, unable to turn over in bed, not to mention getting into the shower. The sponge bath yesterday afternoon (thanks to a Hospice aide), plus Tylenol which brought down the fever, really raised his spirits--an hour later, he looked bright-eyed and sounded lucid, asked for water and juice, cracked jokes, told me to buy a new car, my normal guy again. But this morning old age has returned, and I feel down and sad to see him this way. I should probably keep giving him Tylenol, what have we got to lose?

11/22, Saturday

Scott has taken a turn for the worse. He developed a cough and fever five days ago, yesterday I thought he was on the mend, but this morning the fever went up to 102.7. I called Hospice for advice. A couple of Ibuprofen followed by a capsule of acetaminophen brought the fever down, but meanwhile he was totally soaked in urine--the catheter had come off-- and I couldn't begin to move him for a change of sheets, he's a dead weight. So, bless Hospice, they sent an aide to help with a sponge bath and change of bedding. Happily it was the best aide, Stella. So he's now on his side and sleeping again, after the commotion.

I asked Stella what she thought--is this the end? She said you can never tell, that people can revive, but that he is very weak. He cannot sit up to change his shirt, that's how bad it is. I would like to know what the fever is all about--kidney infection? Beginning pneumonia? His urine is cloudy and bloody, not good at all, and he's coughing, so it could be either.

I feel grief, after putting on a brave front for so long, after even looking forward to being on my own. It seems to soothe him when I stroke his hand and place my open palm on his heart. There goes my man of so many years. We've had a lot of fun together, me and my diamond in the rough. Keeping him company as much as work allows. It is so strange to see him in this state, he who was so proud of physical prowess and who wanted to be the Authority, the Search and Rescue hero. He is a baby now, a large unwieldy baby, diapers and all. What a turn of fate.


2011 Scott's balance is increasingly difficult. I notice problems in maintaining a mind map when he's driving--he forgets where he is going.
April 2011 Sarah dies in our house after a couple of strokes around Christmas '10 and a partial recovery.
January '12 Trip to Kauai
April '12 Trip to visit East Coast friends, with a visit to Cuba.
August '12 Alaska cruise with Eric and kids.
October '12 Panama Canal cruise, San Diego to Miami.
March 1, 2013 Scott breaks left femur when climbing down from desk to hang up a picture. Six-week recovery: he now wears a metal pin in his leg. It runs from the head of the femur to 1" short of the knee.
Summer '13 We travel to Oregon on the train, to spend three days in a Mt. Hood cabin with Matt and his family.
August 2013 Alaska cruise with visit to Denali Park. Scott uses a cane to get around.
October 2013, 6:30 am I travel to San Diego for our granddaughter's birthday. Alone home, Scott spins out of control when getting out of bed, slams against the wall and fractures both bones of left wrist. Drives self to hospital.
December 2013 Driving back from Paso Robles at night, can't drive on a straight line, keeps losing the horizon. Gives up freeway driving.
January 2014 On a referral for prostate problem, the specialist discovers kidney cancer.
February 10 2014 In hospital for kidney biopsy.
February 10-20 Scott looks and feels very ill. Says his back hurts. I call in a physical therapist and we lead Scott through exercises, but he is running a low-grade fever and declining fast. He is ashen-faced, eats nothing and drinks very little. I call Hospice in on the 20th.
February 20  Scott opens his eyes and says he wants to get well, even as Hospice is doing an intake. His Hospice diagnosis is kidney cancer.

November 26 Scott passes away, 1:30 pm.


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-- monica.