I looked down from my favourite seat on the 93 bus from Putney to Wimbledon – front seat left hand side, with its big window view of the world where I can peak into the giant front gardens on Wimbledon Common. An old man walks slowly along the pavement below me, head down, wearing an overlarge black anorak, it’s hood cloaking his head like a monk’s habit. A man that does not want to be seen, lost in his own thoughts. My husband. As I journeyed on the bus to fetch our shopping I realised these past weeks had been spent walking beside a dying man. A man who was once strong and upstanding, argumentative and opinionated. A man that supported me in all things and got things done. And now it is my turn to remember the keys to the house and cars. My turn to make sure the car is full of petrol with a valid MOT. My turn to check that we have the chemo pills and remember to drive us to hospital appointments. My turn to take out the rubbish and buy the toilet paper.
We are never going on holiday together again, never to the theatre or an art gallery. Our travels from now on will be hospital and surgery visits, with short drives round the countryside for stops for cups of tea and toilet visits.
Now we are on our most courageous journey together towards his death. He does not want to travel there and I do not wish to take him, but cancer gives us no choice. Like the men on death row, the hostage taken by Isis, the tortured in Iranian prisons, we must face our future. Like those people there is usually one end – death. How hard for the wives, mothers, and children of those men to face losing their lives. I wonder at their pain, and I cry at my own.
Cancer is not a kind, fair way to end the life of a man that has always been kind and fair. What purpose is served in us suffering so?
My husband and I walk together to his death. He does not make this journey on his own.’Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ said Dylan Thomas of his dying father. Can I write something better for my crying husband who says he is not afraid to die, but finds the process unbearable. Can I find a way to shelter his suffering, to morphine out his memory and help us to cope?
Our revels now are ended .. We are the stuff that dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
2 responses to “Walking to the end of life April 8th”
Gosh I put it up and didn’t tell people and you found it. For me, it spills my heart out in silence and writing it gives me some sort of clarity so thankyou for your reply x
You have faced what many people can’t bear to…the end for someone you love. And you are doing this facing by staring death squarely in the eye. Flinching a little but on a straight and narrow path, which we all we walk at a time we won’t know until we are on it. Thank you for your courage in writing so eloquently. Sherman joins me in sending our love, B