I walked into the room. And stopped. There was something different about the air. I felt a cool breeze blow by me. The fan was oscillating. The day outside my window is very warm. It is August, after all. I stood. And listened. I don't hear anything, but the fan. The noise is gone. The noises that were such a part of my life this past year. The air-flow mattress, with the 'whisper quiet' motor, which supplied consistent air flow, through the pillows of the mattress, to help prevent bedsores.. is now gone. It has been silenced. The oxygen concentrator, with it's breathing-like sounds, is silent. It too is gone. No more alarms when the power goes off. An alarm that would wake the dead. There is no coughing. The sound that I most hated. That phlegmy, moist coughing that he did all day and all night. It is gone. The room is quiet. So quiet.
The air is cool. The warmth has seeped out of it. I stand and I think. That warmth was him! His smile could lift my spirits and make my step lighter. There will never be the warmth of his smile again. It, too, is gone. It exists only in my memories.
I sniff. I try so hard to find his smell. It was just here the other day. But it too is gone. The smell of his aftershave. The smell of his deodorant. The slightly disinfectant smell of the wipes that were provided to us by Hospice. The smell that I wondered if there was cancer growing somewhere inside of him. The smell that I grew accustomed to when I worked on the oncology floor at the hospital. We never had a diagnosis of cancer, but I smelled THAT smell a few times. I have a bottle of his aftershave. The girls and I drip it on our pillows sometimes. When I need to feel that he is close. But today, the smells are gone.
I stand and I take it all in. I look around the room. It doesn't look like the room I used to care for him in. It is back to being a living-room. No hospital bed. No bedside table. No oxygen machines. No wheelchairs. No stacks of pads and wipes and cloths to clean with. It is all gone. We're back to cozy! The room we gather in each day. We talk less about what is missing. Kids are resilient. I have heard that so much over the past three weeks. I know that they miss him. I know that Harley cries at night. I know that Darian feels the need to be close to me. And touch me. We smile and share a story, a tear, a smile.
But what was once the center of our everyday world is gone. And when he left he took my senses with him. I know that I will hear again. Without straining so hard to see if it is him trying to talk to me. I know that I will smell things again. And not every smell will remind me of him. I know that I will taste again. And it won't just be salt-water tears that I am tasting. And I will touch. And I will see again. What I will see I'm not yet sure. But I will see again!