Hours passed with him breathing like that.
Rumbling and roaring.
I know that I’ve said this so many times…but I will say it again and again…
It was so very hard to hear. I cannot get that sound out of my mind. It lulls me to sleep sometimes. How ironic that is.
Something so desperately hard…has become my most precious lullaby.
As the day wore on, I looked up to see many there in that room relax and begin to talk among themselves. Filling in the awkward hours.
I remember I looked up and said…
Listen. Please don’t think you all have to stay. I love that you are here. Michael loves that you are here (lie). But I know you all have lives to get back to. Families and jobs and such. And hey, this could go on like this for days to come. So please feel free to go. Someone will definitely contact you should things change.
And with that some did leave. Yet others stayed. And new visitors came in and out.
Earlier that day, Hospice came to visit. They had planned to find another room for us. A more private room with no wall of windows toward the hallway. The only separation between us and the real world being that cotton curtain drawn curved around the bed.
That horribly thin veil of privacy that shielded so little.
Those Hospice plans changed because it looked like my son was leaving soon. Transporting him to another room and making such drastic change might have been too much. For him. Inside I knew…mostly for me. I needed this familiarity. I needed these people I had come to trust and love on that second floor ICU.
I needed them.
I am not going to be real good here at chronological time. How things happened and when. Time escaped me during those hours.
But the thing I remember most vividly was my Sir Rob. Standing beside me with his hands on his hips as always. Looking over at me with a knowing.
Well, this is the end of my shift, he said. I will not be back until Friday.
Oh…(pause to wipe away a tear here…). Yes. I understood. Friday was days away. We will not be here then.
My heart sank with the reality.
I may never see Sir Rob again. Ever.
I wanted to hug his neck. Kiss his face.
Thank you. Thank you so much, Rob. You have been so amazing. I am so grateful for you.
He nodded, waited a few minutes. He said a few kind words to me that I will forever hold close to my chest. They are only for the two of us to know.
He turned and left then.
But I could not contain myself.
Stepping out to the other side of that curtain I found him waiting. I threw my arms around him and kissed his cheek.
Listen…how can I tell you?
I realized just then that I trusted this man with the life of my son. With my life, too. We had been in the trenches together.
He helped me courageously fight this battle.
We had spent so much time together during those few weeks. All that time he was so good at keeping his professional distance all the while caring and tending to us like none other.
Like NONE other.
Rob. I am eternally grateful for you. Thank you for taking such good care of my son. But most of all, Rob, thank you for taking care of me.
I wondered how this would be received…I wondered if I had crossed some kind of line. But I am like that…and hey, this was a necessary thing! How could I live with myself if I did not hug this man’s neck?
He hugged me back. I remember looking into his face one last time and thinking how I wish he knew how grateful I was. No words in this entire world could ever convey my gratitude.
I saw tears in his eyes. And with a deep inhale, he turned and walked out of the room.
I stepped back again through the veil. Back inside our sacred tomb. I didn’t want to miss one single moment.
Michael…you would have loved Rob. He is such a valiant soldier. A Knight in the most bright and shining armor. Son, I know it is no accident or coincidence that he has been our nurse for all these days. He is a God send. I know that you know. We have been so deeply blessed.
As the day turned into night most left for home.
There were only three of us left then. Michael. My daughter. And me.
Looking back on it now if there could have been a perfect, this was it.
Just the three of us.
The nurse on night shift was someone I had not known before. But let me tell you…no one could have done better.
She was so straightforward. Kind and upbeat. She wasn’t tangled up in it all.
She was wide awake. Like a fresh breeze. A welcome surprise.
And she was oh! so good at making me aware of every. single. step.
Every drug that was being administered. Every change in my son’s condition. Everything.
And she told me…she promised me.
My son would feel no pain. Not on her watch. None.
(I wish I could remember her name!)
I honestly do not think anyone else could have helped us like she did then.
She took my sacred bull by the horns.
And helped to lead him home.