Yes Men Do CRY pages 9-10
canoodle; this is the ultimate. Maybe between you, Bob, Marilyn, and me, we might be able to put this down in print because the message from all of this is so powerful, it should be told.
Oh, I was just thinking what a shame you didn’t have time to be a great grandmother. In the brief time you spent with Chase and Logan (Dallas’s partner, Ang’s two boys), it was obvious you were going to be good.
I truly believe so many of our friends don’t really understand and probably never will. I feel so bad for them that by the time they do, it will be too late. (We take so much for granted.) We had so much, maybe more than most in the way of an intimate relationship that even though I have the memories, they don’t even come close to the actual touching. There are no words that can explain the meaning of “touch.”
It meant so much at the end just to be able to canoodle. This is what you wanted most. But guess what? We couldn’t do that as even the slight touching of your body hurt, but at least I could stroke your face or hand even when you were sleeping. The look in your eyes was the only thing that could finally tell me that you loved me, and eventually, even that left. You would look right through me as though there is something else beyond.
People who don’t have a sexual relationship because they think they are too old for it should take a couple of steps backward. There are so many ways that touching and holding could really imprint memories in their minds, and when one of them is gone, it would mean so much. You have to work at a relationship. So we haven’t got the bodies we used to have. Bread doesn’t stay fresh either, so we make bread crumbs (not all the time). Mostly, we throw it out, but with a little thought, it can be useful. Just like growing old together. Change things a bit, learn how to touch. I promise you it will make your life so much fuller, especially after you lose your partner. I know I ramble on about intimacy, but once your partner is gone, it is over, they are not coming back. Sure, you can have a new relationship. But I doubt you will ever have the feelings of the first because those years of raising a family are something special, and if you didn’t have a great relationship, you wouldn’t know how to express yourself to someone else, and you would smother them. Don’t be afraid to show affection in front of your children or even your friends. Just a gentle touch is all that is required especially when you are getting older.
Intimacy should not stop at menopause or just because he has a fat gut. Sometimes, our society is so weird. I’m not saying our relationship was perfect. It’s just that we can all learn from what I’m feeling and going through. Of course, some things could have been better. But I feel of all our friends we probably “touched,” Bob and Marilyn are the ones who are having a different look at what life is about.
The time you spent at home was so precious. The things we did and watching you accept and await your death with dignity and class had to be seen to be believed. And again, if it had not been for Cheryl and the book, Final Gifts, I would have missed everything, and I would not have been able to share the ride with such intensity, feeling, and pleasure that you gave us. Just watching you at first, not wanting to give up your independence. We would still go to the beach into the first week of September. You not wanting to lie in bed as it would admit that the cancer was winning. Not wanting a raised toilet seat or shower stool. Not wanting a wheelchair. When you did start using the toilet seat, I noticed that a wave of acceptance seemed to take over. At first, when I brought the shower stool home, it was thrown out of the shower. But again, you realized that it was necessary. The same with the wheelchair. It was the only way you were going to get to the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition—the Fair). What a ball we had! The same when we would walk the sea wall and when we met Bob and Marilyn at Granville Island. Every step was one of denial at first, then complete acceptance. (This is how I saw it or wanted to see it. How the hell did I know what was going on in your mind?)
The weekend of the August 26, 2000, we went down to Seattle for Nathan’s twenty-first. Terry and Fran came, and we had a great time. We went to the new stores in Redmond, and it was at pier 21 that Lois turned (she was in a wheelchair by now) and said to me that I could furnish my new apartment from this store—one-stop shopping. She was always thinking about others and was especially worried about me, how I was going to survive without her.
Around September 28, who would have thought that I would have carried you to the bathroom or taken a shower with you when you were unable to wash yourself? The privilege of being able to do this was overwhelming. The most important thing was I wanted you to be comfortable and not suffer. Here was me washing you, and the feeling was one of happiness that I could help when you needed me most. I can still visualize you on the shower stool, me saying lift your arms, letting me wash your breasts and wash your hair. It was the best and most important gift I could have given you. You sat there, completely trusting me. I don’t think you were humiliated. You were just grateful that I was there. As you would have said, “Over my dead body is the only way you will ever bathe me!” How appropriate, your body was dying and that’s what I was doing.
The hardest decision I have ever made in my life was on the Friday night when I realized that I would have to phone for an ambulance to take you to the hospital, knowing that you would not be coming home ever again. I don’t know if you planned it, but when they came to take you to the hospital, you seemed to be out of it, not knowing what was going on. All the way in, I just stroked your hair, and you seemed okay. Poor me was shattered, but I guess I handled it my way.
I’m just looking out the window again, and dawn is breaking. The horizon is bright red, and there is a sea of clouds below us. Yes, I’m above the clouds. I know you are there somewhere, and yes, it is another day, and I got through yesterday, and I will get through today. It will be tough. I will see everyone in New Zealand, but I already want to be back home, to be near the kids, to be with our friends, Terry and Fran, Bob and Marilyn. But most of all, I want to go down to English Bay to be comforted by you.
The next twelve days in the hospital had to be seen to be believed, from the inadequacy of the medical profession to the continued Disneyland ride you took us on. I guess me fighting with the system in my mind was meant to ease the coming reality. But in hindsight, I was fighting for you all along. It must be so awful for most dying patients and their families to go through a death without having all the support and information I had. From the patient not getting their proper pain medication and suffering needlessly, to the family just relying on the doctors and general nurses, not understanding what palliative care is. I have said it before. I would have missed the most beautiful experience of my life; I would not have even known if it had not been for Cheryl. You too got comfort and understanding and the answers you needed to know about death from Joy.