Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Memories of Jethro in Your Hospital Bed

Dear John,
 
It was a good evening until I started crying. And I surprised myself this time. I was on the sofa with Jethro asleep in my lap, thinking about how difficult it's been for him to have us for his humans.Then I thought about how glad I am that I was able to take him into ICU to visit with you on Monday before you died on Friday. My memory pulled up the picture of him jumping into bed with you, so very carefully lying down beside you, you using so much effort to put both of your arms around him, then both of you going to sleep.
 
And I couldn't think about it without tears. I think it's the tenderness between the two of you that is making me cry tonight. I usually remember it with relief - you hadn't seen each other for three months, and you lived only four more days, and it was truly your last chance to see each other. But under those facts lie the love and tenderness of the relationship. Before Jethro went to sleep he had a smile bigger than I'd seen since that day in January when you went to work and didn't come back. And you had tears running down your face.
 
There were a lot of tears. I'd closed the door so he wouldn't get out and begin general visiting throughout the unit, but I'd made sure the blinds were open so the staff could see in. And there was a steady line of people - most of them crying - watching the two of you. I'd have taken a picture if I could have gotten to the phone without disturbing you and the dog, but there was no way to do that. And it's okay anyway - I'll never forget that image as long as I live. And I will always be grateful to the nurses for suggesting that I bring him in, since I had no idea it was allowed. If an LTAC turned me down, I didn't even bother to ask an Intensive Care Unit. But I was wrong.
 
How much you loved him showed, as did how much he loved his daddy. Seeing and touching each other was the best thing in the world for both of you. I remember how important he'd been to you in the late summer and fall, when you were at home on oxygen and feeling so miserable before they got you on Bumex, you lost 30 pounds of water, and - lo and behold - got your energy back and started breathing just fine. I know it was so hard, so tiring and discouraging, during those weeks. The one thing that made you smile was when Jethro clambered up into your lap in the recliner, curled up, and went to sleep. He was your lifeline for a few weeks. He did for you what I couldn't do - I was looking after you, he could just come and love you.
 
He was a gift for you then, and he's a gift for me now. So many widows starve for human touch, but I'm fine in that area because I get lots of warm dog fur to cuddle with. I have someone to greet me at the door, someone that I need to take care of, someone to play with. And he's such good company! I'm never alone here. And when we go in the closet I look at your part of the closet and see other things there, he sniffs your Nikes, and we look at each other and comiserate - we both miss you and are sad that you are not coming back. He grieves with me, and that helps.
 
So your wife and dog miss you tonight. I love my memories of you and Jethro together, even though tonight they make me cry. There's nothing wrong with that. You and Jethro will be reunited, along with Caleb and Naomi. What fun that will be! In the meantime, he and I will huddle and cuddle, seeking solace in each other for our loss of you. Together we're making it, and we're making it easier for each other. So don't worry about us; we're looking after each other.
 
We love you, we miss you, we cry sometimes, and that's okay.
Joan and Jethro

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