Making Life Brighter for Both of Us

Original painting of a yellow and orange sunflowerThis new year (all 10 days of it) I’ve tried to find something fun or different for us to do each day.  Some things are little, like a walk together (he rolls in his chair, I walk).  Some things are bigger, like a trip to Arcadia – an old town about an hour inland from us.   It’s making life a little brighter for us both.

My daughter (the PhD researcher in Palliative Care and Hospice for people with dementia) commented that what I do is focus on living rather than dying.  Yes, definitely.

Somehow, accepting the dying has made living easier.  We’re not resisting.  We aren’t focused on fixing the symptoms, just making our way through them as gracefully as we can.   With as little aggravation from the healthcare system as possible (grrr) , but that’s a post for another day.

Maybe the fact that he said he thought he was going to die in February has made our time seem more precious, but strangely I don’t feel more urgency.  I just feel more present in today.

I wake up thinking “what can we find to do today?”  One night we played Scrabble – he’d slide the letter tiles out from behind a screen and I placed them where he pointed on the board.  We’ve had neighbors over for a cocktail – can’t do dinner anymore, it too hard and slow for Larry to eat.  One night I was walking the dog and saw a friend out in the street and said come on over.  We lit a fire in our firepit, they walked over with their own drinks, and we sat visiting outside as the sun set.

Last night I’d invited a woman I met in our community yoga class to bring her husband for a cocktail.  He’d lost part of a leg many years ago in a paragliding accident and they have a great energy that I enjoy.  We had some bourbon, some marinated mushrooms and olives I’d picked up earlier at an Italian market.  Larry had a couple choking moments but it didn’t seem to bother them and we had a lovely visit. I’d even thought to make dinner before they came so it was quick to heat up after they left.  Yay me, or “brilliant” as our guest would say as he’s a Brit.

Larry looking at the turquoise waters from Sharky's PierSeveral days ago it was perfect weather.  Sunny, about 75 degrees, a light breeze.  We drove south to the next town where there’s a fishing pier (Sharky’s) we’d never been on, figuring we’d get out on the water before the red tide returns.  The water was turquoise, people were catching big stingrays, there were bright colored umbrellas shading the tourists in their bathing suits, and the egrets and pelicans circled overhead.

What will we do today?  I’m not sure.  We have the hospice volunteer coming  this afternoon so I can do errands.  But maybe tonight we’ll go to a little jazz concert at a neighboring art center.  Or maybe we’ll find something right at home.

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