Another day

No picture or humor again today. I need to wake up in a couple of hours and I want to capture my daily letter to the family. So here it is:

Dear family,

It’s exceptionally late and I have an early morning tomorrow, so I’ll try to make this note brief. But it’s been an eventful day and I want to at least share some highlights.

Katie, Mia, and Mark arrived late this evening. It’s wonderful to see them and they’re all doing well. We stayed up talking until just a few minutes ago – 3:30, to be exact. A lot of our conversation centered around Shannon’s status and our feelings about her, of course. We shed a lot of tears, but we also shared a lot of wonderful memories. I’m so grateful they’re here, and I’m looking forward to Andy, Paul, and Melissa getting here too, along with our siblings who are able to come. We’re grateful to have this opportunity to say goodbye, to right any wrongs, to ask for and give forgiveness, and to send Shannon forward to the end of her life on the wings of our undying love. Katie talked about a friend whose father-in-law recently passed away, and the friend’s husband is so sad that all things weren’t perfectly right between his father and himself. He wishes he had the chance that we have. So in spite of the heartbreak we all feel and the difficulty of doing this, we’ve realized how fortunate we truly are and we’re taking full advantage of it.

Incidentally, I would be grateful if those who are coming would send me a quick note telling me when we’re expecting you. I’m pretty sure Candy is coming on Friday and Chris is traveling on Tuesday and visiting us Wednesday and Thursday. I know Robin/Carol and Melanie are planning to come, but I didn’t really figure out when that’s happening. Sorry about that.

Perhaps the biggest news today is that we expect to move into hospice care tomorrow (Friday). We have an appointment with the hospice company we’ll probably use and we have a reservation at the Village, which has some rooms reserved for that purpose. I’m told the chief difference between those rooms and the one we stayed in before is that they have facility oxygen available. We’ll find out soon whether there are any other differences. The room in the village will be a much better place to gather and enjoy each other’s company. I’ll let everybody know where we are when we know.

I wasn’t really prepared to end Shannon’s hospital care and move into the hospice phase so soon, as this means the termination of various life-preserving treatments. The place we’re planning to use offers “palliative care,” though, which was explained to us as a transition phase from full hospital treatment to the typical hospice emphasis on providing nothing but comfort care. It’s very important to us that Shannon retain all her faculties for our upcoming visits with family, so we’ll make sure the palliative care will include what she needs to make that possible.

Our doctor told us this morning that he thinks he could preserve Shannon’s life longer than the 2-3 weeks I believed he had told us yesterday. Shannon immediately and emphatically asked him not to do that, which came at first as a bit of a surprise to me. As the day went on, though, I think I finally came to understand. She is so tired, so worn out, so used up. She has given literally everything she has. Now that her amazing efforts have no hope of bringing us to a cure or even a significant period of remission, she just can’t continue. As I watched her try to move her swollen, painful, dying body throughout the day, I think I finally came to accept that the end for her must come soon. I’ve been so worried about myself and so desirous to keep her with me as long as possible that I hadn’t been able to see that “possible” and “bearable” aren’t really the same thing. I know she wants to be with me too, but she needs to be freed from this unbearable situation.

Our day together was sweet. We spent a large part of it sitting together in her bed reading. Andy sent her a great book for Christmas and she’s about 50 pages from the end. It’s become difficult for her to read, so she asked me if I would mind reading the rest of it to her. We only got through maybe 10 pages or so – there are lots of people coming in and out of her room all the time – but it was such a joy to just sit close together and read the book. We also spent a (too) short time just cuddling. It felt so good. I don’t know how I’ll live without her near me. I just don’t. For now, though, I want to be in the moment and treasure her presence. I’ll figure out how to go on without her when I have to.

Okay, I have to be awake in three hours, so I absolutely must end. There are a million more things I want to say, but they’ll have to wait for another day. Many thanks to all who have written, called, prayed, cried, and in many other ways shown your love for us. Several of you have asked how you can help us. There’s only one thing I have to ask: reach out to your families and other important people and tell them how much you love them. Put your arms around them and hold them tight. Forgive offenses and ask for forgiveness. Don’t waste time – do it right away. Those people are the only thing that matters in life.

We love each one of you. More tomorrow.



Another day of love has come and gone. I can’t wait until Friday when Shannon and I can be together 24/7.

See you tomorrow.

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