Barry nears death, May 2016
Yesterday when the nurse and I got Barry out of bed to adjust his twisted sheets, I was stunned to see how thin and weak he has become. The panicky look on his face as we tried to keep him standing broke my heart. The skinny pants I bought for him from Target hung off his hips, showing most of his diaper. I didn’t recognize the belt he was wearing. It must be from the care center’s lost and found — maybe once worn by a very thin woman who has since died. His own old belts don’t cinch small enough for him now. For more than two years, Barry has been stuck in the same bed, staring at the TV and a wall of pictures. He eats just enough to stay alive. And there is nothing I can do for him– not a damn thing.
I am writing this post on a rainy spring day. The trees and grass are turning beautiful shades of green and all the lilacs are in bloom. The forest I like to hike in is bursting with new life. As I laid in bed this morning listening to the rain, I thought about how sad it is that Barry can’t enjoy any of it this. Summer will soon be here, as will trips up north and hot sunny days. Barry can’t go up north, he can’t feel the warm sun on his body. All he can do is lie there, kicking his feet back and forth, back and forth, day after day after day.
Sometimes when I visit, his deep blue eyes meet mine and stare unblinking at me. What is he trying to tell me? He can’t talk. He can’t say, “I love you.” And he can’t say, “Get me out of my misery please! Please don’t let me live this way!” I doubt he is trying to say, “I am having a great day!” I wonder if he understands what is going on. Does he know that his life has been within these four walls for more than two years? This FTD journey has been tough, but I can honestly say that now is the worst of it all. This long wait for death is almost too much to bear.
Do I do want Barry to die? Yes, I really do, but I’m not sure if it is to make my life easier or if I’m really thinking of him. Would I love to stop going to the care center every day? Hell yes! Would I love to move on to a new life and maybe even meet someone to have fun with? Yes! I have to admit I would. All these thoughts enter my mind as I carefully consider my feelings. I want to be sure that I’m not being selfish.
Above all, I want Barry’s misery to stop. It is so unfair that a human has to live this way. Why can’t we have the right to die? We treat sick dogs better than humans in most of America. I always tell my kids that if I get sick like their dad, please take me out to the back forty and shoot me. They always say, “Oh Mom, we really couldn’t do that.” Well, they really couldn’t because we don’t have a back forty and we don’t have a gun. Plus, I would not put that burden on them.
I have only shot a gun twice in my life and both times it kicked back so hard that I landed on the ground. So don’t worry, I won’t be bringing a gun into the care center. I will just wait, hold Barry’s hand, look into his eyes and tell him that I really do understand. All we can do is wait. Wishing your husband dead has nothing to do with being selfish – it’s all about love.
Time to let go, Barry!