My brother died Sunday morning. I was alone with him, at his bedside when the end came. The week before had been tumultuous. There were episodes of restlessness and pain that required constant physical care. On Wednesday, he asked for Last Rites. Following a very moving time with our Priest, Mama and my girls, he went to sleep. From then on, He never spoke. I performed his physical care, slept at his bedside and waited. On Friday night, an ice storm came. For those familiar with this part of the country, ice is rare but snow is common. We live quite rural and access to us became limited. My Husband, in a desperate attempt to help, began salting. Our drive, our deck and sidewalks.
Saturday came and went. I turned him every couple of hours, did oral care and kept him clean. He did not respond at all.
Sunday morning at sunrise, I awoke from my station on the couch to see the sun coming through the window in a bright ball of light over my brothers bed. My husband and I previously occupied that room and is all our years there, I had never seen such a thing. I snapped a photo and began to care for my Brother. I was tired, scared and a little bit crazy. I defaulted to what I knew. Nursing.
At 0930 my Husband ventured out for "fancy" coffee. He's a kind man and wanted me to feel better. The icy roads were not going to stop him.
I sat down at my Brothers side. His eyes closed with no response for days. He was clean, dry, carefully positioned (I used 9 pillows). At about 10, He opened his eyes and turned his head and looked at me. Startled, I asked him "are you in pain"? He didn't answer but slowly closed his eyes and took his last breath.
It was peaceful, quiet and over.
I spent about 30 minutes alone with him. It was the greatest gift. I knew the days and moments following would be hard. I took that time, I believe, God given, and relived our life as only siblings. He was important to me.
There has been some humor that I'm sure my Brother orchestrated. Hospice couldn't make it out after his death, due to icy roads. Our local coroner, accepted my pronouncement of his death as I am a nurse (finally that ER experience came in handy). The funeral home was delayed, also due to icy roads. My husband and I enjoyed "fancy coffee" and muffins with my Brother's remains. After all, food was a quality factor for him.
So, its not goodbye. There's more to this journey. The cancer part is over. I await his ashes, which I'll store til Spring. He was very clear that I not make a shrine, so I imagine I'll keep them in a cabinet. Then off to New Mexico at first weather break.
I'll post here on occasion. The transcripts of this journey as well as my personal journal and notes from our Hospice nurse and Priest will eventually go to an copy editor for publication. It was my Brothers final hope that someone else could learn from his journey. Typical B Alvarius fashion