By Sylvia L. Ramsey
The next three-and-a-half months were full of change and growth. The registered nurse from the hospice program visited us once a week to check my husband's vitals and to answer any questions we might have.
The hospice nurses seemed to be concerned about giving me support, as well as providing support for my husband, who was struggling with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure and diabetes. We were told that we needed to take care of legal affairs. I contacted a lawyer, who drew up a will and the various other paperwork we needed. My husband was not able to go to the lawyer's office to sign the papers, so the lawyer brought two of his staff to serve as witnesses to the signing of the legal papers.
A nurse came twice a week to take care of bathing my husband and other things that needed to be done. We had a minister who came weekly to visit my husband.
My husband and I talked about what was to come. He wanted to make sure everything was planned before he died. We made arrangements for the funeral. He gave me exact details of what he wanted and what he did not want. He selected his casket. I think he did this to help me accept the inevitable.
During this time, he seemed less stressed and happier than he had in a long time. We talked more honestly about our past and our relationship than we ever had in all the years we had been married. He was very interested in what I would do after he was gone. When he asked if I would remarry and my answer was no, he was upset. He said that he did not want me to be alone, and he wanted me to have the life I deserved. He wanted me to find someone, to remarry and have the life I had missed while taking care of him. I dismissed what he said because it was the farthest thing from my mind.
Two days before he died, we had a very strange conversation. He told me he had hung on so long because he worried about me. I assured him that I would be fine. For the first time in all the years of caring for him, I knew that I would be OK. I realized that I could let go.
That was when he told me that he wanted me to know that no one else could have taken better care of him. Later, when I reflected on our conversation, I think he knew his death was coming soon. He wanted to know that I could "let go." I realized at that time I had done just that, and I had given him permission to let go as well.
Check back here to read more from Sylvia. Plus, read more of her story on HealthyWomen.org:
Living With Bladder Cancer
Two Diagnoses, One Couple, One Day: Could it be Possible?
Lots of Questions and No One to Talk To
Preparing for Surgery and Staying Positive
It's Not Leprosy, It's Cancer
My Bladder Cancer Surgery
Recovering from Surgery and Still Struggling to Find Support
Finding Humor in Trying Times
Adjusting to the New Life After Surgery
Achieving a "New Normal"—and Then a Setback
Recovering, Caregiving and Looking for Work
Getting the Word Out to Women About Bladder Cancer
Caregiving and Cancer Awareness: 2 Important Causes
Accepting When It's Time for Hospice