Death came suddenly



Photo of Mikal Hertig

Mikael Hertig, M of Sc. Pol



Closeup of Cotton Grass

Cotton Grass

We lay on a narrow bed in the living room. She had returned home to die.

I have promised her that she should die at home if it in any way was an option. Our experiences from the hospitals excluded this alternative.

We are so often talking about the “struggle against cancer”. This saying may be a cliché; however it was a process demanding both attention and presence of us all – until then four persons.

The role was new to me. As long as she was breathing I was hoping we could cheat them all. Her brain was damaged as long as the metastasises had excluded function after function. She could not go as straight as before because her balance system was damaged. She was blind now.

We lay side by side, she with her back to the window and her head next to my neck. Most of the time I could feel her warm expirations on my shoulder or my back. This early morning I just had cleaned her mouth for sone sort of foam that came concommittant with troubles with her breathing. She was rattling. After having cleaned her mouth the rattling disappeared, and I felt her regular and peaceful  breathing on my shoulder.  When cleaning her mouth I used a special swamp I have received from the municipality care.

I had really not anticipated how it would happen. Maybe I had anticipated that we would feel fully awakwe, hand in hand until she let go. Or that we could be standing at her side  saying goodbye.

This morning she lay with her hand on my shoulder. I was dozing as two things happened. An almost imperceptible touch on the shoulder and  I recognized that her gently warm expirations had stopped. I was not in doubt that she was dead.

I looked at the terrass door. A small breathing moved the curtain slightly. The sun was up.

This early morning Birgitte Elben – my wife through 26 years had died. In my experience she suddenly died. Death just as birth is sudden but not unexpected.

July 18 2006. It is now ten years ago. Sara and Simon hsve graduated and are in job. We celebrated this day together – thanks to Skype. (Sara and I live in Nuuk Greenland, Simon in Copenhagen). It is a little weird to experience she is not following all this with us three. On the other han it is just as weird to feel presence of the memory and all that gratitude filling us.

Those of you who remember Birgitte as she was may give her a little puff and a loving thought.

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