Husband Paul and I have been together 52 years. We will celebrate 50 years of marriage on Aug. 17.
Paul is 16 years older than I am. We knew at the onset of this long, loving and lively time together we would come to the day it would end.
We do not know the day but, sadly we know it will be in a future we can see from here.
We have promised we will live each day together as one and be joyful when we wake in the morning and gently kiss.
I write this like I write of other subjects — to feel and read what comes out of my pen, my heart.
I hope you do not mind my sharing with you. I know some of you are experiencing the same sad journey or already have. You know.
I have occasionally written about Paul’s and my experience in treating and managing his heart condition. It made its first important appearance two years ago when a problem required a pacemaker followed nine months later by a failed heart valve replaced by an artificial heart valve.
This ninety-five-year-old man’s strong will, constitution and absence of other medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol made him a reasonable candidate for procedures to extend his life five or six more years. Following the procedures, he worked hard to regain his strength despite the frustration of a painful knee.
Four weeks ago, something went wrong and triggered a sudden decline into irreversible heart failure.
Suddenly summer went dark
In an instant our daily lives became unrecognizable. For him it is the strong will for more days together even though he is tethered to continuous oxygen and has experienced unbearable episodes of “air hunger.”
For me it is everything, but Paul has faded from my life. He, his comfort, and our love are the most important things I must protect, care for and saver even if I cannot save him. Family, with their own sorrow, come like heroes to me to share their love for dad and granddad and to support us in organizing us for this strange way of life.
Change occurs quickly and adjustments must be made. Health care systems cannot respond as quickly as we need them, especially around a holiday weekend.
The world moves clockwise, and we move counterclockwise. A physician friend helps us get needed medicine to relieve breathing struggles. Friends pick up medicine and deliver to us.
My concentration beat is staccato as I involuntarily move back and forth between focused learning and aimless wandering. I feel in a state of exhausted high alert. Daily routine exists only in moments.
We know all, including us, will settle at some point. We know we will come to the understanding we must, perhaps by the time you read this column.
Moments of peace will begin to surf with waves of grief. The smiles of love when we look at each other have never left and only grow brighter as we close in on destiny.
We know too we have had a good life and a great love. We are fortunate as one of the doctors so aptly pointed out “(Paul), you are a winner. You’ve outlived 99 percent of the people born on your birthday.”
We know we are lucky. Still, we can be forgiven for wanting more.
Bertha Cooper, a featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and it the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at email@example.com.