Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. Aristotle
For many caregivers, there is never a day off. Sure respite care is available, but even when we have a day or an hour of respite, we are always just a phone call away, and we are always wondering what is going on with our Caree.
My phone call came on Wednesday January 25 , 2006…’Chris, I am sorry to have to tell you, but Father Orlando’s kidneys have failed…I am so sorry, he does not have very long to live.” The call was surreal…My response was…”Can you hold off on giving him morphine until I get there, I want to be able to talk to him.” ‘I’m sorry, Chris…we have already started him on the morphine, we do not want him to experience any pain. Of course, I did not want him to experience any more pain, too.
When Father Orlando started his transition to eternal life, it was a peaceful 36 hours for him. While the last few years of his life were filled with many health calamities, his peaceful transition into eternal life was truly a gift from God; it was a special gift for us both.
When I arrived at the hospital, he was lying peacefully in bed with an angelic smile on his face. What was significant about Wednesday January 25th was that he was going to be discharged from the hospital that afternoon. I spent the morning preparing for his return home with a visit to the grocery store, storing up his favorite foods for the next chapter in our Caregiving journey.
God certainly had other plans for us that day!
The next 36 hours were filled with scripture readings, visits from close friends, calls to family and a few hours of respite care from our friend Dan who had been such a great help during our Caregiving journey. The last communication I had with Father Orlando was when I was holding his hand as he gently rubbed his thumb over the top of my hand. Those gentle strokes across the top of my hand was his way of telling me that he loved me and that he was at peace. I can still feel his gentle strokes across the top of my left had today.
When he took his last breath at 1:13 am on Friday January 27th, he had that same angelic smile on his face that he did when I arrived at the hospital on Wednesday. It was at that time that I realized what an honor it is to be a caregiver.
As I walked to my car, leaving the hospital that early Friday morning was unreal as a relationship of 18 years had just ended. The intensity of being his caregiver for the last 18 months, revealed a deeper love and commitment that we had never experienced in life. Upon arriving at my car, I was finishing up with one last phone call before leaving the hospital on last time. As I settled into my car, I could see that the light was still on in his hospital 4th floor room. Then suddenly, the light went off in his room as I was finishing the call. I looked at my phone, then looked back up at his room and then simply turned my cell phone off.
The significance of turning off the cell phone was the stark realization that my role as his caregiver had ended. I could not ever remember the last time I had turned the cell phone off at night! No were more emergencies, no more calamities, nothing more worry about, he was finally at rest. For me, this was the start of a transition in my life in how I would love and care for him differently, that continues to evolve today.
Every Tuesday at 1:00pm (est)