The first time I held your hand
I knew I was a lucky man
Jamey Johnson – Heaven Bound
It hurts. Damn, it hurts. Never knew you could hurt like this with no broken bones or blood running out. You get busy and you get around people and you get acting normal and you get thinking I’m OK. I’m good. I can do this. WHAM!! Knocked on your ass again.
Lisa was no stranger to pain. She wouldn’t let people see it, but she was in pain most of the time. When we were at home down south she slept on the couch. She tried to sleep in our bed from time to time but it never lasted more than an hour and she went crawling back to her soft couch.
At home on the farm we have a big, soft king size bed and Lisa was able to sleep there most of the time. Some nights it was me and Lisa and Molly and Irene and Buttercup. Molly makes you read shark stories and dino stories. She would be the first to fall asleep (after Buttercup). Irene liked to read to us. To Lisa.
Then I might read to Lisa. I’ve read some good stories to Lisa at home, before we went to sleep. And in hospital rooms to help her go somewhere else while her body was someplace she didn’t want to be.
Lisa loved the story The Master Falconer from C.J. Box’s book Shots Fired. It was the last story I read to her. She talked about it a lot. Nate Romanowski was right up there with Lisa’s heroes John Wayne and Tell Sackett. I wanted to read her Blood Knot from the same book, but never got the chance. It’s a good one, you should read it. Aunt Ruth, someday I’ll buy that book and keep it on the bookshelf, you would like it.
Molly always ended up sideways in the bed about 2 AM so you either got a head butt or you got kicked. Buttercup stayed down on your feet or squeezed in sideways between us. Me and Lisa held hands if we could reach. We never got much sleep. Memories of those nights will make it on the short list of Good Things when my time comes to look back. Maybe even Best Things.
July 28th was our 32nd anniversary. I was at work and Lisa was staying at her folks after getting out of the hospital in Rochester. She called me at work about three times saying how much she missed me. The next day, Friday I got up early, did chores, mowed the lawn and loaded all the dogs and lawn mower and drove up north, took care of the dogs and mowed everything up there before I got to spend some time with Lisa.
She looked puffy and mentioned that she had a hard time getting her breath. That night we went to bed early. I didn’t sleep much. Instead I laid there and listened to her breath. She woke at 1:00 AM, we talked it over and decided to go to the ER and see Dr. Hudala. He is a good one and Lisa knew he was on that night.
We sat the whole night in that little room in the ER (again) and I held her hand and we talked. Chased away the nurses that wanted to draw blood and start an IV. Her arms already looked like she had been in a car wreck. Towards morning Dr. Hudala came back in and said he wanted to keep her in the hospital for a few days and get the fluid drained away from around her heart and lungs. Lisa cried. More nights in a damned old hospital bed instead of at home. But then the steel came back and the tears went away and she did what she needed to do.
We spent a lot of time together in her hospital room over the weekend and she had a lot of visitors. She was happy and feeling good and making everyone else laugh. I brought her a dairy queen blizzard on Sunday, Butterfinger. She acted like I brought her diamonds. Her nurse was jealous and Lisa loved that.
Monday morning I went back to work and they let her out in time to make her appointment with Dr. Hendrickson, then she came home and spent the day with Emi and Donna. Cleaned the fridge, did some laundry, called everyone that was getting a pup from Lovey and worked on selling the last one, then her and Donna went out to the Spot Café for Monday night all the shrimp you can eat, which was quite a few. I called her from work while she was there and got brushed off.
But then she called me back. She called me three times that night. Each time she told me she missed me. She went to bed alone in our big, soft, king size bed for the last time.
The memory of all those times she said I Miss You in that last week will haunt me the rest of my days.
Now it’s my turn to say I MISS YOU.