Easter Weekend is not a good time to be in need of an operation as a lot of the staff are away. While we wait for things to return to normal, I massage my husband’s limbs, hoping to stimulate his circulation and the older children all come to visit.
He tries to communicate but speech is difficult and hard to understand so he uses gestures, he keeps pointing at his watch asking what the time is and points to the sky, as if saying, that’s where he’s going.
When I bring the little ones from my Nana’s flat, they stand on chairs at his bedside, and lean on their daddy’s chest, chattering away, smothering him with hugs and kisses, making him very animated trying to talk with them. We put their framed photo on the bedside cabinet where he can see them.
The next day, an operation which is going to take hours is scheduled. Sick to my stomach with fear, I say goodbye and watch him wheeled off into the theatre. Desperate to find an out of the way place to wait and beg God to please, please, help us, I hide out of sight, squeezed behind a row of lockers in the hospital corridor.
A man appears all dressed in white and guessing it is the Doctor, my frightened brain not wanting to hear his words, wants to scream at him not to talk.
They found a ruptured vein had created a blood clot the size of a football and removed it, however, they were unable to stem the bleeding. Also against him, was a throat abnormality they have discovered that caused a problem administering the anaesthetic.
In the intensive care room, I find my big bear of a man, has a large fan blowing freezing cold air all over him, the nurse says that its to bring his temperature down. From somewhere in his unconscious state, he feels the cold air and keeps trying to pull the bedsheet over himself, only to have the nurse remove it again.
When she actually gets a screwdriver out, and starts fiddling with a box, supposedly meant for monitoring his blood pressure, that she informs me ‘never works’, I can’t believe what I am seeing. As soon as she leaves the room, I cover him up, and tell him how much I love him and want him to come back home with me and the little kids.
Alone for hours, except for another unconscious man hooked up to machinery, and still hoping for a miracle, I sing to him some favourite songs in the hope he can hear and maybe come round. Popular on the radio during our courtship, ‘let me be there in your morning, let me be there in your night, let me change whatever is wrong and make it right’, my wishes for now, ‘I love you because’, and ‘one day at a time, sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking of you’, with many repeats.
After we are moved to a ward room from the intensive care, the older children return for visits. His eldest son and a niece stay to keep the bedside vigil, giving me support as we wait through a long night, still hoping for the best. In the wee small hours a nurse tells me I can rest on a bed nearby.
I had just dozed off when she calls for me to return. Clinging tightly onto his hand and still praying under my breath, my heart leaps when he moves his thumb. From the depths of his unconscious bleeding brain, he manages to call up the last dregs of his once super human strength and rub his big thumb, comfortingly, back and forth stroking my hand. Exclaiming to the nurse how he has just moved she takes no notice and I see no hope on her face.
Minutes later as I am telling him over and over, that I love him, my big strong hero, only forty nine years old, leaves forever. My mind unable to comprehend is screaming in pain on the inside, NO, NO, PLEASE GOD, that’s not right, he doesn’t deserve this outcome he is a good man.
Then they wheel my forever love away, probably because there are other living people in his ward, and I collapse in the waiting room. Another couple there in my same position who have survived and are getting to go home, offer me sympathy. I just feel jealous.
All I can think is my husband’s gone, ‘Bright Eyes’, ‘How can the light that burned so brightly, suddenly burn so pale’ comes to mind from the ‘Watership Down’ movie we recently attended with the children. With my heart ripped open, I see no way to go home without him and just carry on.