My feelings and thoughts get stuck in a loop. It’s all day but it happens most at this time, at night when everyone else has gone to bed, gone to their special person. Even he sleeps now, my partner in insomnia. It’s just me and the absence of you.
My loop tonight, the day you died. You came to me in the morning, how I wish you’d spent your last night with me, you knew.
You showed me more affection than you had in months, more than you could hidden in so many lies before I knew, more than you really had the energy for now you were so sick, you knew it was coming, you told me it nearly happened the night before. I didn’t hear you properly.
I washed you and I knocked that stupid tube out of your nose. I was doing the best I could, I dropped everything to help you but I was no nurse
You spent half your last day in hospital having that tube put back, my stupid fault. You came home earlier than expected. I was annoyed, I’d only just sat down, you needed picking up. How could I be annoyed? I’d do anything for that message again.
On the way home I held your leg, I rubbed it, I told you softly I love you over and over. Did I know? I knew it was soon I had no idea it was our last hour together.
We got in and you couldn’t breathe properly, I calmed you like I had each time for 7 weeks. I told you next time you’re struggling to breathe just remember how it felt to be calm. That you could breathe. You looked at me like I knew nothing. You couldn’t speak, you couldn’t say it, but you’d been that way for months, I could hear you, I could be your voice.
I asked if you had told the doctors that you were struggling to breathe when you were in hospital, you shook your head, I asked if I could tell the doctors. You wrote one of the last things you would ever write. ‘I think once we start telling the doctors I’m struggling to breathe it’s the end of the game’
Your dad rang, I told him, he asked me to call the doctors. I told him you didn’t want me to. They’re angry at me, the ones who love you, that I let you have so much control over your own health after you’d made the bad decision that led us here. But what else could I give you? You couldn’t eat, you couldn’t speak, you couldn’t sleep, you couldn’t relate to anyone fully anymore. All I could give you was a helping hand and a sense that you still had some control over your rotting body. You always needed that control, you needed that patience, I gave you what I could.
I gave you something to calm you through your feeding tube. I checked your aspirate, I’m sure it was right, I remember 4.5 but it was close, you double checked it but you were so confused, maybe I killed you. I gave you more calories too, you were a skeleton, a man who used to engulf me withered to bones. Part way through you panicked and pulled off your T-shirt, covered in dribble now you couldn’t control your mouth. Did that knock the tube? Does it even matter? Was it even related?
When I had finished feeding you I was stressed, I wanted to go for a smoke. I thought to myself don’t be selfish get him a clean T-shirt first. I was gone less than a minute and when I walked back in you were gasping in a way I hadn’t seen before. I had to ask you ‘do you want me to call an ambulance?’ You’d just told me not to say anything.
You were terrified. You nodded. I sat on the floor by your legs as I waited on hold to emergency services for what seemed like an eternity. What’s happened to this world that you’re on hold to ask for an ambulance?
She finally answered. She asked me if you were breathing, I said barely. She asked me if you were conscious, I said yes. She asked me for our address. Then it happened. Was I holding your hand? I’ve told it that way to comfort everyone who loves you but the truth is I don’t know. That one detail escapes me. I hope I was holding your hand.
You collapsed backwards, your eyes rolled back in your head, you bled from the mouth. I panicked. Were you gone or was the last thing you heard my panic? I gave you CPR for 15 minutes. Were you with me? Did you hear me tell you I loved you and I was there, that I promised I would be and I was? Did you hear me scream for her next door? I doubt it. You were gone in that second. Less than 5 minutes for you total, an eternity for me.
Then they came, the ambulance, the ones that love you, the ones that love me, the police, the investigating officer, the coroner. That’s another loop for another night.
They took you, they took your meds, they cleaned the mess, the took away the smell, they erased any sign you had been sick in that house. They thought it was a kindness. I just wanted to rot in it with you, to stop breathing with you. I wish I had, I wouldn’t know what I know now, that this wasn’t the only lie, the only time you betrayed me, the only trauma you would leave me with.
I hate you and I miss you. I scream at you in my mind and I mourn you. How could you do this to me? You were supposed to love me. I’m not sure you ever did. I love you though and that’s what will haunt me until I’m in the nothingness with you.