I’m not sure when I first smiled, first rolled over, or ate solid food for the first time. I assume I reached those milestones at a reasonable rate, but I don’t think my Mum kept a record.
I haven’t kept notes of my husband’s everyday accomplishments; sometimes it takes me some time to realise that something has happened for the last time. The last time he made me a cup of tea. The last time he baked a loaf of bread. The last time he was able to read a newspaper article. The last time he wrote and sent a letter or an email. The last time he could use a knife and fork to cut a piece of food and feed himself. I much prefer to focus on what he can do, not on what he can no longer do. But I am thankful that I have photos of everyday moments from his & our past.
Throughout his decline, I have chosen to try my best to remain optimistic. When we flew across Canada to Vancouver and took the train back to Toronto in the autumn of 2018, I didn’t realise that would be our last big holiday until we were home. And even then I thought shorter closer-to-home vacations could still be possible. But they were not. I embraced day trips, often with our friends Donna and Dennis.
I can’t remember when Doug and I had our last real conversation. It has been a long time since we’ve been able to have even the simplest of discussions, but I miss them. I miss them every day. I would like to tell him that there are already vaccines for Covid, and that Biden defeated Trump, and that our niece is excelling at university. He loved the little news items that some people overlooked, but he also loved the front page stories. He would have followed Covid reporting with great interest. He would have had a lot to say about the Covid lexicon we’ve all acquired.
I am thinking about endings this week because Dennis has passed into the spirit world. Three weeks ago he, Donna, his sister-in-law, and I danced in his living room, sang Christmas carols, and ate ice cream. Four weeks ago we had breakfast with two other friends. This summer we had weekly coffee mornings on the deck, and watched the ducklings grow.
Donna, Dennis, & ducklings on the deck - summer 2020
I am all too aware that there are things my husband can do now, that too soon he will no longer be able to do. I am aware, but I am still not taking notes. I don’t want to record the lasts; I want to hold on to the moments we have.
Dennis & Doug - January 2019