Bittersweet Christmas

David — 2013 at the Anchorage, Lake Sunapee

If you’ve been following my updates on CaringBridge, you already know that David’s ordeal is over.  The last bit was hard, so I have to be glad for his sake that that part was not prolonged, but being without him seems to stab me at odd moments, and I can’t quite seem to catch my breath.

Time yet again to remember all I have to be grateful for.

Granddaughter Bailey

We had a lovely Christmas with our daughters, granddaughters and future son-in-law, even though by then, David was not strong enough to leave the bedroom. We all visited him regularly throughout the day and he gave us a few smiles, more precious than any other gift.

Granddaughter Felicity

The 26th was busy with rearranging the bedroom to make room for a hospital bed. It turned out David only used it for one night, but it was helpful and we were glad to have the loan of it. David and I shared a few perfect moments in the evening, which I already related on CaringBridge, but here it is, in case you didn’t see the CaringBridge post:

During this entire sixteen months, whenever I didn’t know what to say, I’d say, “I love you” or “I love you to the moon and back” or “I love you to infinity and beyond” or “I will love you forever.” Even when his voice was a mere whisper, he would say back, “Love you.” Until the 26th. He was finally comfortably installed in the hospital bed and it was just the two of us quietly together. Even though he was clearly listening and I felt he was very much with me, he was not replying. When I got a bit teary and mentioned that he wasn’t saying “love you” anymore, he immediately tipped his head up, opened his eyes wide, looking directly into my eyes, and said, strong and clear, “I love you very much, for all time.” It was the last complete thing he said. 

On the 27th, I sat next to David and updated CaringBridge, talked with the hospice nurse when she visited, did various caretaker tasks, updated David’s brother Doug when he arrived in the early afternoon from Portland, Oregon, and generally just watched over David as he slept. I thought we were settling into a new pattern, even if just for a few more days, but just before 4 p.m., David took a few irregular breaths and suddenly was gone.

I’m not sure how to describe the next few hours, except to say they were tender and piercing, touching and wrenching, all at the same time. I had precious time alone with him, but mostly we were all there with him, saying our goodbyes in a peaceful, I’d even say holy space that is so rare in this life.

I don’t really remember the next day, except that it was quiet (no more wheezing, thumping oxygen concentrator) and everyone was very gentle with me. I had a few necessary tasks, but the others managed everything else, taking care of the young ones, providing food for all. Best of all, in the evening, they did something David would have LOVED . . . ↓

Glow Stick Laser Tag

. . . laser tag with glow bracelets and necklaces, out among the trees on the dark golf course. I wasn’t quite up for it, so declined, but every one of us could absolutely picture David, all in, dodging from tree to tree, giggling like a maniac. The next day people started heading home, so that was our last night together during this bittersweet Christmas holiday. It was strangely perfect.

*A Celebration of David’s Life will be held on the 19th at 4 p.m. at Council Tree Covenant Church in Fort Collins, with a reception to follow at our house. More details and a chance to let me know you’re coming here.


6 thoughts on “Bittersweet Christmas”

  1. Sunny, how sad this last email was!! I never knew David, but still, I cried….for YOU! How sad and lonely you must be, with a long year ahead of you, without the man you love. But he’s at peace now, and you must also feel that sense of peace.
    My heart and love goes out to you…..❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️😢😢😢

  2. comme ce message est triste et poignant. Nous sommes très émus à la lecture .De si loin on a peine à imaginer….Nous évoquons les bons moments de mai 2017 et c’est cette image que nous gardons.On ne peut pas se résoudre à sa disparition. Nous pensons très très fort à toi . Bon courage pour surmonter cette peine immense. Il nous manque déjà.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Sunny. It sounded so sad and touching. It reminded me of when my cat passed away this year, although I know the passing of your partner of the last three decades is much more profound. May David rest in peace.

    Please take care and hope we will see you at a French event sometime.

  4. Hello Sunny, I’m hoping you receive this message……… Jack and I want to thank you for a lovely and memorable celebration of life service……it was so very moving. I was not in any shape before, during, or after to be able to attend your reception. That was an especially hard day as I was remembering my dear brother’s death because of this disease. I’ve also lost two more very dear friends to pancreatic cancer. All men. Young men. My heart breaks when I know it also took David. I feel so very angry and helpless to fight this dread disease! I do know of one woman who is still “surviving” after 6 years. She is extremely thin and suffers with pain. I am thinking of you…….I was a widow at 64 years. Do be so very kind and gentle with yourself. Take good care. Let the arms of family and friends wrap you in comfort and peace. Know you did everything you possibly could to take extraordinary care of David. No regrets. My dear Jim suffered for nine years with Lewy-Body disease…….I have peace knowing I did everything possible to care for him. He has been gone 12 years…..and I still miss him. Sending hugs to you all, Joey Waltz p.s. …….my cell # 970-219-9075 call anytime

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