The business of helping the love of my life, my sculptor husband Richard Cabe wrap up a life well-lived takes up essentially all of my time and energy right now. My days are filled to bursting with tasks ranging from the mundane but critical–like getting the in-bed urinal in place when it’s needed–to managing visits from hospice staff and volunteers as well as friends and family, helping pass on his art (more on that in another blog post when I’ve had more sleep), and making sure he has opportunities to explore spiritual and temporal questions.
I care for him from our first morning kiss to the last snuggle of the night (plus those middle-of-the-night urinal alerts), sponge-bathe and dress him, oversee his diet, manage his remaining medications, arrange excursions to the outside world and pilot his wheelchair (the photo above was taken on a “walk” to the river), pay bills, keep track of our accounts, field phone calls and emails from well-wishers, and generally try to stay a step or two ahead of his needs. It’s no wonder that by the end of each day, I’m exhausted… so worn-out that it’s often impossible to write at all, much less eloquently and thoughtfully.
Fortunately, I am not alone in this business of making sure Richard can live his remaining time in grace and dignity, satisfying his always-active intellect and finding beauty and joy in the moment. Molly has taken leave from her busy life as a strategist for a San Francisco ad firm to be here “for the duration,” her sweetie, Mark, is arriving in a few days, and my family has come for visits throughout (that’s Molly with her cousins, Sienna and Heather–plus baby Liam–and Richard in the photo above); and hospice staff, volunteers and friends all pitch in. In truth, we’re enveloped in love in many forms.
Thanks to all of you. The supportive emails, blog and Facebook comments, cards and letters, and even the phone calls. (As an introvert, talking on the phone is not my thing…)
The gift certificates to the local food grocery store across the street and our favorite brick-oven pizza restaurant and microbrewery; the treat of Sunday brunch at Salida’s best restaurant; hand-delivery of delicious and beautiful cooked-to-order dinners from our favorite bakery.
The flowers, the freshly-baked cookies, the hand-made-with-love-and-flair items like the shawl that comes with an endless supply of hugs, the mitt designed to keep our two clasped hands toasty warm, and the strength and grace charm bracelet put together by the Girls’ Night Out group; the stunning opal and curly gold necklace crafted by a trio of goldsmith friends to showcase a cherished family heirloom (more about this in a future post on art and healing); the books and music; the help with Richard’s bathing and grooming; the errands run and the recycling taken out; the tools fixed, shop cleaned up, the firewood stacked; the contributions to help with expenses; the hugs and kind words and thoughts and prayers…
We are truly blessed and grateful–and a bit overwhelmed–to be the recipients of so much love and generosity. We’re doing our best to honor that love and support by walking Richard’s last journey mindfully and thoughtfully, with hearts outstretched.
To me, the end of a life is sacred time, as precious as the beginning. Painful and terrible as it is to lose someone we love, this end-time gives us opportunities to reflect on what life means, to shed things we never needed to carry, and to appreciate simple graces like being able to hold hands, taste a fall-crisp apple, inhale the spicy sweetness of a bouquet of lilies, admire the silver-bright new moon. To travel beyond ordinary cares and busyness to the heart of existence itself.
Thank you for extending your hands and hearts in support. We’re rich in your love.