Our vigil

Jarvis sleeps. I could listen to that deep, even breathing for the rest of my life. Forbes Hospice arranged for an inflatable mattress for the bed in the anteroom to our bedroom. The mattress changes his position slightly every ten minutes. They also sent aides, who rest in the nearby recliner while I sleep at night. I wake only to give him medicine if he seems to want it. Or the aide and I clean him and make him comfortable.

Jarvis is comfortable, but our dog is not. Dozier got violently sick yesterday, vomiting and expelling bloody diarrhea. We sent an aide to the vet with him, where Missy and Allison met them. The vet said Dozier was suffering from stress and gave us medicine and special food for him. Best of all, yesterday, Lonnie took Dozier for a walk with Molly, his labradoodle girlfriend. Today Dozier’s symptoms have subsided.

For Jarvis, we had an emergency box of morphine and other easy-to-administer drugs (Fentanyl, morphine, lorazepam, oxycontin) in the fridge, which we did activate two days ago. Jarvis was more restless then. He accepted liquids only when we dripped Gatorade into his mouth. Now he doesn’t even accept liquids. Betsy is out buying a dropper so we can try droplets of Gatorade or water. Missy is here. We’ve been taking turns sitting by him during the day, or sometimes we sit around all together beside him, talking quietly. Allison comes over every day, and Devin calls from California. I told Devin I would need him more later, a thought I can barely countenance.

Yesterday our three daughters and I sat in the sun on the back deck, the monitor placed on the table so we could hear his sweet, regular breaths. We told funny stories about him and ate a delicious pasta Marti had sent over. So many people have sent food; I don’t know what we would do without them. Missy and I lived for three days on Joe’s tray of Polish goodies. Jane just now brought a fresh blueberry pastry and wedding soup, Patsy called about a ham, Colleen sent a carrot cake and a chocolate cake. I’m not mentioning a million helpful people.

Hospice also sent an aide as lovely as the other one was rough. We watched the skilled way she shaved Jarvis’s 5 o’clock shadow. But Jarvis said, “I’ll teach you women how to shave a man,” because he wanted it done harder. As gently/roughly as possible, I splashed him with the Sea Breeze aftershave he likes. He looks wonderful to us now and smells fresh and good.

I don’t think he’s said much since that last sentence about shaving. He just sleeps. That wonderful deep breathing animates our lives.