The Shadowlands Of Hospice

Dave dug through our buffet to find one of our old dvds. I started some laundry, asked what was on. “Shadowlands.” My first thought: he chooses Shadowlands on Bob’s hospice anniversary? Why would he do this to me? Then I realized there was no way Dave remembered.

Last year, Bob came home for Thanksgiving. His last. We all knew it was his final Macy’s parade. His last Thanksgiving meal surrounded by grandkids.

I spent most of today trying not to think about it. But we had pumpkin pie. And I sat right where his hospital bed was for almost 5 months. I used one of his pens to jot down a note. I reached up to touch one of his carvings, because Bess was pointing to it and asking for a star.

And Graham’s newest imaginary friend, Prince Graham, has a Papa. Graham talks to him all the time. In Graham’s pretend world, Papa dances a lot. And he’s never sick. And he stays handsome forever.

So I was going to cry myself to sleep tonight. Thankful that Bob is gone, but saddened that Bess will never get to watch him turn a chunk of wood into art. Grieving that he wasn’t on that swingset with Graham pretending to be a pirate. Or teasing Adelaide about changing the channel from Bubble Guppies to Road Warrior.

My husband turned on Shadowlands. I got my weeping in, even though it wasn’t at all in the form I had imagined. Cathartic. But ugly. Because I ask the same questions C.S. Lewis asked, but I lack the maturity to listen to the answers.

I’m not sure how I cling to all the sunny memories when the cancer ones infest my sleep and daydreams. I should be more like Graham. Imagining a frolicking man. Unimpeded by dying. Slow dying. Graham’s new Papa laughs at shadows. And is an expert at the Viennese waltz. Which Graham calls ‘Cinderella Dancing’…


*Bob with his princesses, right before he came home on hospice.*

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