Tonight’s letter

Things continue to go downhill for Shannon. Here’s tonight’s letter to the family:

Dear family,

Today was a trying day. It started out wonderfully – Shannon and I got to spend the night together for the first time since Christmas. It was wonderful to cuddle up and hold each other and just be together. We were able to sleep quite late – we both woke up at about 9:00. That may be the latest Shannon has ever slept!

The day started out with a bit of difficulty, though. Shannon was having trouble speaking and she was very lethargic. I got her out of bed, cleaned up a bit, and dressed. She even wanted to wear her shoes and the pretty scarf the nurses gave her when we left the hospital, and she looked wonderful. However, she struggled to get even two or three words out at a time and she frequently lost her train of thought.

They instructed us to go to the clinic every day to have blood taken and platelets transfused if she needed them, so after I showered and ate breakfast, we got her loaded up on her new wheelchair and headed over. She seemed to be doing just fine and we had a good experience at the clinic, although she was still very tired. While we were at the clinic, Mark went and picked up Andy at the airport. Andy joined me at the clinic just as we were ready to head back to the Village, and we decided to take the long way home with a detour through the rose garden. That’s a place Shannon and I frequently visited together when we were here last year, and it’s beautiful and peaceful. We found all the rose plants trimmed back for winter and the garden empty, but we were still glad we went there and we enjoyed the walk.

When we got back to the Village, I helped her get from her wheelchair to one of the recliners. She sat there quietly and rested while we waited a few hours for Paul, Melissa, and Heather to arrive. Shortly before 4:00, Julie, a nurse from the hospice company, came to check on Shannon and help explain the hospice service we’re getting. She checked Shannon’s vitals, which were good, although her blood pressure had dropped a bit. She went through the booklet/chart they leave with their patients, and she went to check on Shannon again.

Shannon had fallen asleep, and we weren’t able to wake her up. After Julie and I tried for a few minutes, Shannon briefly regained consciousness, but she was unable to speak. Julie explained that this might be because Shannon was simply exhausted from the morning’s outing, but I think we all knew better. The nurse stayed with us a while and then left, promising to call tomorrow and come over if we need her.

Through the rest of the day, Shannon only regained consciousness when Paul and Melissa came, long enough to hear that they love her and to tell them she loves them. Then she was back asleep.

We had a wonderful evening with all the kids and their partners. We chatted, laughed, talked about everything, talked about Shannon, and mourned and cried some. Katie and I held Shannon’s hands for quite a while, as did others before us. At about 11:00, I asked each of the kids and Melissa if they wanted to have a private moment to say farewell to their Mom. It was a beautiful experience for all of us. Then we all hugged and kissed each other and we jointly carried Shannon from her chair to the bed. Everybody but Katie left and she and I helped Shannon change clothes. Shannon had brief periods of semi-consciousness during all the jostling we put her through, but she never really woke up. Then Katie said goodbye and Shannon and I were alone, just as we started out together.

It’s now about 3;00 AM and I’m up long enough to finish writing this. Shannon continues to sleep peacefully. I stayed awake as long as I could and hugged her and felt her wonderful, warm presence and talked to her about our amazingly happy life and told her over and over again that I love her. At maybe 1:30, sleep overtook me for a while. I’ve been awake about every half hour since and she continues to sleep peacefully. I think her breathing has slowed down and it has become more labored, but she’s still alive as I write this. There’s just no sign of consciousness. This is the way Shannon wanted to leave this world, and it’s been peaceful and sweet and awe-inspiring.

I have no idea if she’ll make it through the night. I told her over and over again while we’ve been lying together tonight that our children and I are prepared for her to leave us and that we want her to go knowing of our love for her that will never end. I don’t know whether she heard me or not, but I do know she knows we love her and always will.

I’m pretty much all cried out. I know the tears will be back after she’s gone and that’s okay. I now know for certain that I will survive her death. I would give anything to have circumstances be otherwise, but that’s not possible and I will survive.

Robin, Carol, Candy, and Melanie are all scheduled to visit us on Sunday. I don’t know what the circumstances of those visits will be. I don’t know whether Shannon will ever regain consciousness. I don’t know how long she can live in her present state. I can’t give her any medications. I can’t get her to the clinic. I could summon help, but they will heed her Do Not Resuscitate order. So I think the only thing to do is to continue to hold her and tell her I love her and wait for the end.

I can’t believe the end has come so quickly. I know a quick end is what she wants, so it’s now what I want too. However much time we have left, it’s not enough for me. But it is enough for her, so it’s enough. How I wish she could still talk to me and hold my hand and kiss me and tell me just one more time that she loves me. She’s told me thousands of times, but I would give anything for just one more.

My wish to make video recordings of Shannon with each of the kids wasn’t fulfilled. I did get to take a few pictures of Shannon and me together this morning and I captured a few seconds of video of her telling me she loves me while we were in the clinic. That will remain precious to me for the rest of my life.

It’s nearly 3:30, so I’ll end, get this note sent, and cuddle up next to my wife once more. I love each one of you and can’t begin to thank you enough for the support you’ve been to us both and for the outpouring of love we’ve felt as we’ve lived through our ordeal and that we continue to feel today.



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