When my husband was sent home to be put on hospice, I knew what that meant. I’m pretty sure he did too, but he never asked and I never said. He never mentioned dying to me, never asked about it, and even prior to his diagnosis, death was a topic that he never wanted to discuss.
One day he asked me, “How long can I stay here on hospice?”
“You can stay as long as you like,” I said. “You can stay forever.”
I was pretty sure his medications were clouding his thoughts. When he was diagnosed with the cancer, about eight months prior, I was doing what I had to do and he couldn’t. The silver lining in the dark clouds that made up the Covid shutdown was that I got to stay home and spend time with him before he officially became “ill.” It also allowed him time to teach me what I needed to to survive in a world without him. I learned what yard equipment used regular gas, what a 2 cycle was, how to use a snow blower, weed whacker, leaf blower and most things that were mechanical to maintain the house and the yard.
He always told me what a great job I was doing taking care of the place – our “cottage,” as we called it. So was he preparing me, then? Did he actually realize that that one day he would no longer be around, and so he tried to make the transition less stressful? So that I could still be independent when he was no longer here?
I recently got a call from a care provider who would watch our daughter in the fall, once a week, when things were slightly open, so we could have a date night. Well, I’m no longer a couple, so I don’t need a date night, but maybe she still called me for a reason – to get out and not just be confined to housework and everyday tasks.
So I had to think, where could I go? What would I do? Without a plan, I took her up on her offer. I knew she was also a widow but not the circumstances. I found out that eight years ago, she lost her husband in a car accident. So we bonded over our losses. She thinks her husband knew somehow, about his short future. He always researched everything before buying, but towards the end he was just buying, more impulsively. Financially, he wasn’t going over the top, but usually this was unlike him. He didn’t balk at the price of something all of a sudden but just bought it.
“It’s funny you said say that,” I told her. Because when I shopped for food and would get a family pack of hamburger meat, I’d reserve what I needed and he would take care of the rest. He was the master of making burgers. This past week I took out a pack of his hamburgers from the freezer – they were wrapped so I couldn’t tell how many were in the pack at first. When they thawed, there were only two patties. But we were a household of three at the time that he’d prepared them. Did he just make two so that I didn’t have to worry about having any extra?
So I went back to the freezer to remove an identical package of burgers… it also only contained two patties. I think he thought it would be easier for me. But I took this as a sign – a sign that he knew, though the words were never spoken.