Last year on this day, George slipped into a coma. The last time he would kiss me back and respond to me was today. I’ve been thinking about how sweet he was even until the end. I would ask him if he loved me and he would nod his head and pucker his lips. It was so sweet. He was one of a kind.
Tomorrow I head to Philadelphia to run in my first half marathon. I carry with me a lot of mixed emotions. I am focused on the race, but I feel like having this race is impeding my ability to grieve.
I need to go home. I need to be with my parents. But first I need George’s strength to pull me across the finish line before I fall apart.
George became very agitated before his coma. I remember how he would thrash when anyone touched him. He would swear and just be plain nasty. I remember how horrible it was to watch him transform into someone I couldn’t recognize or see him act out like that. I do recall these memories with so much love in my heart, but I feel it would be dishonest if I portrayed it out to be a smooth transition. Liver cancer is horrible. It’s awful to watch. And I remember very clearly those moments when he would shove me away and tell me to fuck off. It burned me, but the hospice nurse always reminded me it wasn’t him, it was the toxins building up in his body. If the liver isn’t working properly, toxins build up, the thrashing begins, and the horror slowly is burned into your memory.
George was the sweetest man ever, but when he slipped into the coma there was a sense of relief that he was no longer aware of the suffering. Watching a loved one die is traumatic. This lead up to the anniversary is like trying to run away from an avalanche.
For the last two weeks, I’ve watched more television and lounged around more than I think I have since December. Those first few weeks after George died, I didn’t know what to do with myself so I simply lost myself in fictional drama and romances. My spring obsession if you recall was One Tree Hill, and it began at the turn of the New Year. Leaving behind one of the most horrific years of my life for another year of pain, rebuilding and eventual growth. I’m still in the goddamn construction phase, to be honest.
Since getting sick, I’ve been unable to occupy my mind and body with exercise so instead I’ve turned my attention to a couple other things. First, I have to be careful of my consumption so I’m scrupulously tracking my water and food intake. Although I’m not currently in training due to the bed rest, I want to make sure my body can bounce back quickly once I return to the saddle. The second thing is American Ninja Warrior. I’m straight up enamored with that show. The physicality and mental toughness is simply mesmerizing and leaves me bewildered of how their bodies can endure that much. I want to be climbing the cargo net and hanging off rings attached to a staircase. These people have stretched their bodies to the limits just as I have emotionally over these last 9 months. I truly appreciate their commitment to bettering themselves for a gameshow, however I’m trying to better myself for a longer duration; the rest of my life.
I saw a couple on the show who both competed, and when they kissed it jolted a feeling that I hadn’t really thought much about. This couples professional life is competing in these obstacle races, and training other competitors. So before one of them went to work, they kissed. George and I always alternated on who wakes up for work before the other, but we never missed a good morning/goodbye kiss. Some days I would be in such a rush to head out the door, but if I didn’t kiss him goodbye, id bust through the door in a frenzy, kiss him and tell him I love him. Usually Bodie would wake up and start barking. I missed it today. Something about those mundane morning kisses were so special and warming that I never realized it until I really thought about it. Somedays, he would press against my face so hard, I could feel his stubble against my top lip for minutes afterwards. Prickly like a Velcro but warm and soft like bread out of the oven. It was the best. I haven’t had a good morning kiss since. Maybe once, but nothing that had lingering meaning behind it anyways. Things I took for granted are becoming my most cherished memories. Those moments where everything in the world was perfect and pure, have become elusive. The never ending marathon of chasing happiness continues on. But once it’s within reach, I will hang onto it tightly like those competitors do when they see the end line just after that last knob they need to grab ahold of to continue on.
It was at this exact time a month ago I kissed George his final kiss. 12:41am. I whispered in his ear how much I loved him and how he meant to world to me and made me the happiest woman alive. I told him that he didn’t need to worry about me and that I’d be okay. And then I kissed him on the lips before I went to bed. His breathing was so shallow and I pushed his lower jaw up so his lips touched when I kissed him. He was so warm because of his fever and I could feel his warmth on my skin several seconds after I pulled away. It was short because I knew he needed as much air as possible and when his lips parted he gasped trying to get his breathing cadence back. But I needed to steal a kiss.
I went to bed that night knowing he would pass away on Monday the 25th. I just didn’t think it would be hours after our final goodnight.
Holidays are always difficult but I will not be celebrating Christmas. I can’t. George loved dressing up as Santa and he always dressed up for his niece and nephew on Christmas Eve and gave them presents. Without George here, the magic has disappeared. I can’t believe its been a month since I saw him and got to touch and kiss him. If I knew it would be our final kiss, I would’ve given him a thousand more.