I know ...♥♥♥ must seem like a strange title. But, it holds a lot of meaning, to me, as this is the way Felix and I always signed off on notes, emails and FB comments.
It began four years ago when I placed a personal ad, with the headline, "Looking To Annoy Someone For The Rest Of His Life." He sent an emailed response saying that although he wasn't what I was looking for, he thought that was the funniest thing he'd read. And, so it began...
We wrote a few times back and forth. I was amazed at his writing abilities... his way of being self-deprecating with humor, sarcasm and wittiness. I've always loved a man, with a brain, and he was certainly intelligent and insightful. In the course of our emails and a few phone calls, I told him where I worked and one Sunday (yes, a Sunday), there were a dozen roses waiting for me. It scared me at first. Who was this nut sending flowers to me... someone he didn't even know! Did I have a stalker? So, I called demanding to know why he dared... his reply was that he just wanted to show appreciation to someone who had brought happiness and company in such a short period of time. So, I met him that same evening and the rest is history.
Felix had suffered a number of health issues, over the years, and it didn't help his body's ability to heal by being a former heavy drug user. Those things combined meant his 59 yr old body was much older. In addition, he was nervous about going out a lot due to some of the health issues... so, he lived somewhat a recluse. However, his mind and spirit were young and I fell for the person he was inside... caring, concerned, funny, vulnerable.
He was fiercely independent and it was hard for him to accept declining health. His eccentricities and health limited what our relationship could be... not normal by most standards. But, it was normal for us. We accepted each other for what we were and weren't and what we could be and what we couldn't. Neither of us could really explain "why it worked" but we both felt that God had brought us together... that He used something as worldly as a personal ad for a higher purpose.
Of course, when I first met him, the health problems hadn't limited his mobility and such as much. But, gradually, things did worsen. Last summer, he became ill and as much as he hated to, he agreed to be hospitalized. He was diagnosed with CHF and stage 4 kidney disease. Refusing dialysis, we both knew what the final outcome would be... it was only a matter of time.
Felix went home, after two weeks, and I moved into a spare room to help when he needed it. Then, the day before election day, I was hospitalized for complicated gall bladder... pancreatitis, wound up with sepsis, organ failure and temporary dialysis myself. Towards the end of December, while I was still recuperating, Felix fell and wound up with over 11 stitches at the base of his skull. I think that was the beginning of the end. He never did become functionally mobile. I was able to go back, to his place, in January.
He didn't really need a lot of physical help, but he could no longer go downstairs. I mostly cooked, straightened up, ran errands... With urging, Felix finally agreed to allow Hospice to start services.
Then, as the kidneys started failing even more, I scratched his back to ease the constant itching. We hugged, cried, held each other...
In March, he asked me to marry him. I sat there and thought, "Why didn't you ask me three years ago?" After some discussion... and, he told his aunt (who didn't agree we should)... we both thought it best not to. But, we did, on March 28th, exchange rings. He gave me a ring he'd worn for over 30 years... a star sapphire set in a man's gold setting. And, I gave him an engraved titanium band. Almost the next day, he began a downturn.
However, he never did get to the point most of think... he stayed fully in control til the very end. He was very present in each moment. His body was failing, but not his heart and mind.
He told me a day or so after we exchanged rings, that he didn't want anyone else there- except me - when IT happened. He didn't even like it when his aunt or cousin stayed with him while I attended a nursing class. I tried to be consoling saying "They take care of you and it's okay. I come right back." And, he said, "But, it's not the same."
On Monday morning, April 1, 2013, I left at 10:15am to go to school. Upon my return, he was still awake. The hospice volunteer attorney had just left. After awhile, no one was there but the two of us. Over the weekend, even though we'd had so many tender moments talking, he had gotten worse.
Monday evening I had to ask a male cousin to come back over to help him get settled, and positioned in the bed. He was so weak, he couldn't do it himself. He didn't want me to call Danny, but I did. Danny left and I was trying to get some pillows positioned for support and I told Felix ... mindlessly talking... that when I got him settled and he was comfortable, I was going to the next room to study for a test, but would be checking on him. I struggled with the pillows and Felix said, "I'll wait for you." My reply was, "Oh honey, you don't have to wait on me. I'll fix your pillows right now. I'm not gonna have you uncomfortable while I study, Goofus."
He was asleep and slept til around 10pm when I thought he was trying to wake up. He sounded like he had to cough and I grabbed some tissue. He literally pulled himself up and sat on the side of the bed. I said, "Honey, here's the Kleenex..." He just sat there, then went limp back on the bed.
That was it. The love, of my life, was gone.
Time is precious.
You can expect IT to come. You see IT coming, but you're not prepared for the loss.
It's been 20 days now. And, it feels as if it just happened tonight.
I don't see how people go through something like this and ever learn to be happy or enjoy life again. I've heard about "new normals" before, but is feeling like this the new normal?
I'm sure I'll write more later, but... all for now.
Thank you for reading... Peace & God Bless