Out of nowhere the thoughts come…

Oct 15, 2023 | 3 comments

You know that something is coming.  Something — a specific, dire, and awful something–will happen.  You envision it, you push it away.  It rolls slowly, inexorably, back into your mind.
     You make what preparation you can.  Or you think you do, though your bones know the truth — there isn’t any way to sidestep, accommodate, lessen the impact.  It will come, and you will be helpless before it.
     You know these things.
                            Prologue: “Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone” by Diana Gabaldon

I began Book Nine in “The Outlander” series today but…  I had to stop after reading the prologue.  Suddenly, in front of me was not the book but the year or two before Nyel’s death — right up until the last words he said to me.

The day had begun well.  It was the second or third day Nyel had spent in his “new” hospital bed which was located in the room with the TV.  Neither of us really liked it in there — never mind that the room is just across the hall from our bedroom.  We had already arranged for the North Coast Home Care folks to come and move it into the bedroom.  It would be situated where the fainting couch is, just steps away from me and with a view out the window to the bay.

I got up about seven and went into the “TV Room” to find that Nyel was already up and dressed and in his wheelchair — just heading toward the kitchen.  “Wow!  Have you already taken your pills?”  “Yep!” was his smiling answer.

So I went to take my shower and get ready for the day.  When I got to the kitchen Nyel was sitting at the table, a smoothie about 1/4 gone.  “You made a smoothie?!”  I was impressed (being the non-foodie that I am!)  “Yes,” he said, not quite so smiley as he’d been earlier.  “But now I’m not very hungry.  I think I’d like to go back to bed as soon as the guy comes to move it.”

I honestly don’t remember much about the next few hours.  Maybe I went to get the mail… It was a Wednesday so the paper might have been involved.  As soon as the bed was situated, I pushed Nyel into the bedroom but he couldn’t stand to get in.  Somehow… I lifted him and got him settled… About then the Public Health Nurse came to check his vitals and do a blood draw as she did every Wednesday.

Nyel — in plummier times

As she moved the stethoscope around his chest she said “It’s so quiet.  It’s so quiet.  His electrolytes must be off.” I remember thinking “electrolytes?” and  that we must be generations apart… And she then suggested I call the EMTs.

Nyel looked at me and said, “I feel so bad.  I’ve never felt this bad.”

“Do you want me to call the EMTs?”  We had long ago decided ‘no extraordinary measures’ and he shook his head.  “But if the hospital can help you feel better?” I asked.  And he  slowly nodded an affirmative.  They took a very long time to get here — they weren’t from Ocean Park.  Nyel died as 2:22 that afternoon…

As Gabaldon wrote:  It will come, and you will be helpless before it.
     You know these things.







  1. Nancy Gorshe

    Ahhh, how poignant. Thank you so much for sharing this Sydney!!!!! For some reason I took a couple of.pictures of my mom’s last moments as my caregiver urged me not to go to work. And what I love about looking back at them is being there and noticing how the cat, who usually was an outside boy, guarded her and never left her side.

  2. David Williams

    As we all learn – thank you.

  3. Nina Macheel

    This is moving and poignant, Sydney. There is a line from Paul Simon’s new album that struck me with a similar truth as the lines you quoted: “I lived a life of pleasant sorrows until the real deal came.”


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