Mark Twain was once quoted as saying, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." I could empathize with the old chap this weekend when I opened up a card to Bill from a publishing company, assuming that it was junk mail. As it turns out it was from the publishing house with whom Bill is publishing a textbook this December. It was a condolence card filled with several hand written messages expressing sympathy over my passing. It turns out that Bill's co-author, a Frenchman, was not able to get his point across precisely. We had a good laugh over it.
Bill's parents and sister, Ann, were here all weekend. Bill's immediate family includes some of the most productive, hard working people I have ever met. No one ever sits down unless it is mealtime. The weekend was a whirlwind of shopping expeditions, pantry organizing, kitchen cleaning, picture framing and hanging (at my request), and many, many other tasks. When they left this morning the house was pristine and the photo collage I had been plotting for month was finally a reality in our family room. I was so happy.
I had to be honest with myself about the photo collage. I wanted it because I wanted Bill and the children to see what moments I had singled out to display from this wonderful life of ours. But, secretly, I think I was also marking my territory. The time will come when I am gone and Bill and the kids will need to move on. And I want them to do that, truly. But I want the person who fills my shoes to know that I was here first: I loved this man, I bore these children, I nursed, and rocked and reared and loved them. I don't want her to replace me; I want her to complement me. I want for her to allow me to exist in the memories and hearts of my children. Somehow hanging those pictures on the wall made me feel like I was staking my claim, though I know they can come done just as easily as they went up.
While the Steinbach's were busy in their usual way, I was busy as well. I lay in bed and prepared the slideshow that I want shown at my funeral. Marie had scanned in many photos for me from the pre-digital era and I added photos from recent years. I tried to put the photos in chronological order but it is not always easy to tell the two year old from the two and one-half year old. No matter. I set the slide show to music: Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World and Edwin McCain's I Could Not Ask for More. I suppose the latter seems like a strange choice for someone in my situation, but it reflects my true feelings. I have had a wonderful life, filled with a loving family, terrific friendships, an adoring husband, and two blessed children. I have enjoyed my time on this planet immensely. Even this weekend, as sick as I felt, I still made it to three soccer games and cheered the kids on sitting in my wheelchair and breathing through an oxygen cannula. Maybe the lines "every prayer has been answered" and "every dream I've had's come true" aren't exactly valid. But they are close enough. For whatever reason, I don't think I was destined for a long life.
Making the slideshow was bittersweet. I enjoyed reminiscing about the sweet moments of my life, but I wept over having to let it go when I feel like I could have done and enjoyed so much more.
I begin Hospice Care today. I will be admitted to the inpatient facility today or tomorrow so they can try to figure out my coughing, nausea/vomiting, and edema. Hopefully within two days we will be able to come up with a medication regimen that keeps me comfortable and I can return home. I don't know if I will have Internet access there but if I can post, I will.