It feels as though it has been an eternity since I received the phone call from my mother on Sunday night. But only a couple of days has gone by. Here I sit in the middle of the night unable to sleep and it is raining again.
This country has been dry for so very long. This last month all it has done is rain. Finally it has warmed up and the grass is growing with all of the moisture. It is sad that the moisture that we so desperately need had a lot to do with my step-dad's failing health. Humidity is difficult on someone who has trouble breathing anyway.
I did not stay with my mom tonight. I think she needed the evening alone. I tried to call several times but the phone was always busy. She is doing as well as can be expected. Actually, better than I expected. I have to shut her down sometimes when she starts with the shoulda, coulda, woulda...Thanks to her, my step-dad never had to spend a single day or night in a strange place, he never had to take a single pain pill, he never wanted for anything. There are not many terminal patients who can say that. Nor would he have survived so long without her undivided attention. She did what she did, because she loved him.
The last few weeks, I could see that my step-dad was tired of his situation. He changed. The last time I rode his geldings, he watched for a little bit and then had my mom close the curtains again. Before, he would watch out his picture window from the time I left until I came back. I always had to stop by and let him look at his horses for a bit before I put them away. Then I would go in and we would discuss the merits of each horse. The paint gelding was not much of a pasture horse. He always looks to the far horizon. I needed to get him to the arena to work on getting his attention on me and his immediate surroundings. The blue roan horse was a horse my step-dad would have loved to have had when he rode the pastures daily. He is all business. He left the yard with that old head just a swinging. He can go all day and has never once spooked at anything. Of course my step-dad was especially fond of him because he raised his mother(who I broke-22 years ago) and her mother, who was by his good old Three Bars stud. My step-dad loved a good horse and raised more good ones than most people ever get the chance to own.
My mom knew the end was very near. I could tell the difference in her the last couple of days before he passed away. She was so sad. They didn't want company. When I had to go out there, mom met me at the door. He was letting go and she wasn't ready for it. Who ever is? When your whole life for years has revolved around someone 24/7-365.
They were together 35 years. I can remember the day he showed up at our house with his suitcase. Mom says I was too young to remember, but I do. I always liked his laugh. He had one of those great chuckles. The one that makes you laugh too.
I am so relieved his suffering is over. I cannot imagine not being able to take a deep breath or being able to leave the house or ride a horse again. He was okay with it for a long time. But when he decided that was enough, that was enough.
I know that at this point my mom does not want to think too much about the future. I suppose to her it looks lonely and bleak. But honestly, I see my mom being able to get back to the land of the living. It will take some time-that is just how the grieving process works-but eventually she will realize that she can go to town and not have to worry about getting home ASAP. She will be able to go to the barn and not have to rush through chores to get back in the house. She will be able to saddle up and ride with Megan and I.
The first glimmer of that realization has already hit her and with it the obligatory guilt. When we were coming home from the funeral parlor, she was looking out the pickup window, just looking at the countryside(you know the last time she even went with me to get feed was August of last year) and without moving she said "I might need to get my riding boots back from you." I tried not to smile too much because I could see she felt bad about saying it-but I now have those suckers polished up and can't wait to hand them back to her...
We were all standing around in the driveway yesterday, visiting and I kept watching this iris unfold. I couldn't help but think that this was going to be like watching my mother come out of the cocoon her life had become. It will not be the same as it was before my step-dad got sick, but it will more closely resemble the life they used to live and I think he would like that.