Her Final Days

February 16, 2006

In the days that followed Michele’s death I started a diary, most of the entries in it are ragged, but upon rereading them tonight one caught my eye and I’ve decided to share it here. It was originally written on Tuesday, October 11th, the day after she completed suicide.

October 11, 2005 – 10:45 am Over the weekend leading up to Michele’s death she had two near death experiences. The first occurred Saturday morning just after we had gotten up and come into the living room. She was sitting in the big chair and I was sitting across from her while we were talking. All at once her breathing became rather ragged and strained, and she seemed farther away. I moved to her side and held her hand and stroked her hair and face as her breathing became shallow and less strained. She looked at me and told me that she loved me and that she wanted me to continue my life. She then said it was very peaceful. I continued to hold her hand and tell her that I loved her and that it was okay if she left.

Once or twice it seemed like her breathing had stopped only to start again. After about 5 minutes she seemed to ease in the chair and she felt closer again. More time passed and she appeared to be sleeping very deeply and peacefully. I stayed by her side until she awoke about an hour later. Her experience was one of moving away. She said there was a light off to the side but that whenever she turned towards it, it moved away.

On Monday morning we both woke up about 5:00 and lay in bed talking for a time. It was a loving, tearful, joyous conversation filled with memories, laughter, and talk about the upcoming days. Again I became aware of her seeming farther away, her eyes weren’t focused on anything any more. I stroked her hair and face and told her that I loved her dearly, that I always had and that I always would. Her breathing was so shallow that even with my hand on her side I could barely feel each inhalation. This time it was longer before I felt her coming back towards me. And this time she slept for a couple of hours before waking again.

Her experience was one of being in the light. She talked of seeing her mom and dad. She also said that she saw my sister, Amy, and that Amy asked her if she was really ready to leave me. When Michele couldn’t answer she said she came back here.

Both of these episodes left her peaceful and calm for a time. I think her fear was that going to the hospital for the bone scan would have caused them to discover her condition and intervene. The last thing she wanted was to be kept alive or subjected to medical interventions that artificially prolonged her life.

I remember asking her during the start of the second one if she wanted me to call an ambulance. She said no, that she wanted to be at home where it was peaceful and quiet, with me. One of the greatest lessons she ever taught me was the importance of not taking care of yourself by imposing your will on others. Loved ones who plead with the doctors to do anything to save a dying person are really trying to take care of themselves, perhaps against the true wishes of the person. I have known for a long time that Michele didn’t want any kind of artificial, or heroic measures taken to prolong her life.

I am largely at peace with her death today. I know that her spirit has moved on to the next plane of existence. Further I know that the pains and sorrows that fill this life aren’t a part of that next existence, so she is finally free of her nightmares, her bleeding and dysentery, and her fears of the world.

Tonight as I reread my writing about her last weekend on earth as Michele, I am again connected to her spirit, to the incredible energy that was her love, her life force. I know that she will always be a part of me, and that she is watching over me now. I miss her terribly and the loneliness of my life is almost crushing at times. I don’t know how I found the strength to survive her last weekend or her subsequent death. But I am hopeful that the reservoir isn’t empty for I have a long journey, yet, ahead of me before I rejoin her.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.