When I first met nurse Gerry about two weeks ago, we talked about how to proceed. He reassured me that Jerry would be fine. Then, he cautioned me how I would have incredible feelings of guilt and sadness. I remember distinctly how I told him I was ready and that I didn’t think I would cry. He responded, “You will.” Well, yesterday, I took Jerry over for the hymn singing. We walked into the activity center which was filling up with volunteers and residents. There were two seats available on the front row next to the piano. Jerry and I walked over to those seats and he sat down. Ivan sat down in the other one. Whew! I excused myself to go fill out papers and view the room again.
Kathy, the director, and Gerry, the nurse, walked back with me to the room. I felt this feeling of nausea in the pit of my stomach as we approached. It was the same feeling that I had when we were first given the diagnosis eleven years ago: a feeling of helplessness, no escape, and no turning back. As I tried to straighten up, I could feel myself getting more and more quiet. We walked in and they showed me more details, like; where we would put his towels and how we could put his linens up on the shelf in the closet and where we could hang his hat rack. I asked if I should bring a TV and if I could hang his clock and if he could have a stash of his favorites: Planter’s peanuts, bite sized Snicker bars and packages of Oreos. Kathy said she would go out and buy new valances for the windows and asked what colors I would be using. She asked, “How about blue and white striped ticking? That might look good for Jerry.” All of a sudden, it was getting personal. No longer was that room just a room. It was Jerry’s room. I walked over to the closet door and ran my hand along the face of it. Nurse Gerry was standing across from me. I asked, “Should I put his picture here so he knows this is his?” My eyes skipped all around the room with no place to land. Then, I saw Gerry looking at me. We both knew. He said, “You are 'going there'.”
That did it! “You didn’t have to say that.” Then, I proceeded to water up like a bulging faucet about to burst. I couldn’t stop. “I can’t do this.” I thought. "I just can’t.” We walked out to the nurses station and Gerry introduced me to another staff member and a new male CNA they just hired. I asked them if they would watch Alabama basketball and football with him. Whit, the new CNA said, “Roll Tide” as he passed on by. I made them promise to be nice to Jerry. (I was on about my third box of Kleenex by now.) Another nurse came around a gave me a hug. I really felt the LUV from her.
So, miss strong and smug, “I won’t cry”, me......was told “You will”......and I did. There will probably be five of us on Friday.