I is for Increasing Incapacity: #atozchallenge Day 9


Time Before Alone

Once before cancer came

Once upon a time

Time was he was strong and one

Time he lifted a washer in his hug

Hug me as though he was a bear

Hug so safe so secure so warm

Warm embrace and gentle soul

Warm willingness to help any and all

All parts of this lumberjack of a man I love

All things I took for granted would always stay

Stay strong and healthy for another two decades

Stay with me as we grew happily old together

Together like we were back in Sedona

Together climbing red rocks my hand in his hand

Hand strong and certain touching me and cradling babies

Hand broken by trauma but still artful and nimble

Nimble until the ravages of disease came

Nimble until growing weakness made them tremble

Tremble that troubled him when it first came

Tremble that echoed down into each muscle

Muscle consumed by rampant multiplicity of cells

Muscle once so capable rendered insubstantial

Insubstantial losses at first until he fell

Insubstantial no longer as he lay on the floor

Floor now a terrain that thwarted independence

Floor only crossed when he had extra support

Support given and accepted but bittersweet

Support of my hug as he cried anguished tears

Tears on my shoulder as he leaned into me

Tears because he wasn’t ready for this

This relentless assault on all that he was

This proof that this was not a bad dream

Dream of some miracle that had yet to be

Dream become a nightmarish reality

Reality of the walker the exhaustion

Reality of increasing shaky frailty

Frailty as his body wasted away

Frailty of mind as lucidity faded

Faded off into delusional dreaming

Faded away taking him somewhere distant

Distant undiscovered country waiting

Distant eyes of this man that I love

Love transforming as he goes further away

Love can’t make this journey shared

Shared bed where we exist in two separate planes

Shared memories of two decades now mine alone

Alone now but still held by his gentle strength

Alone and still supported by his remembered embrace




I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the sound.

Jim and I had been sitting together in the living room, and decided to head toward the bedroom. I was in the bathroom, with Jim following, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a large man hitting the floor
Once we’d gotten him up and into the bathroom, with the aid of the walker that had been folded up behind the living room chair for the last few weeks, he hugged me and cried. “I’m not ready to need a walker,” he said, but I knew that what he meant was, “I’m not ready to die.”

But death comes, whether we’re ready or not. Jim had been sure-footed, but, after that fall, he never again moved easily. His hands began to tremble. First, he couldn’t write, then he couldn’t take his medication on his own, then he couldn’t manage his water bottle – and then he was bedbound and unable to use his hands at all.

It was small blessing that, by that point, he was seldom lucid, already more in the next plane than this one. I don’t think he knew how incapacitated he was.

I hope he didn’t, or, if he did, he was no longer troubled by it.

I know that I was humbled by the reality of his decline, the simple things, once done almost without thought, that were beyond him.

Cancer truly tested the vow, “in sickness and in health.” I didn’t live up to it as well as I’d like in every moment – but I hope that I did in enough of them to ease the transition for the man I would have loved to have spent the rest of my life with.


Join us again tomorrow, when we explore the juxtaposition of joy and sorrow.

And find more illustrious I posts here.

My son introduced me too this lovely and heartbreaking song during the last several weeks of Jim’s illness. It’s become a favorite I can’t listen to too often – it’s just too close to my reality…


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