Today, Valentine’s day. The day of ultimate love etc.
6 months ago I was sitting in the waiting room on the fifth floor of the Dunedin Hospital after waiting all night to hear how my boyfriend was going. All night keeping my chin up because I was told he would be fine. It was only three broken bones. A miracle really. That was my sweet, never sick, never made a fuss. It was going to be fine.
Finally they had some news for us. Sitting round MPH the doctors entered.
“He has had a stroke and he might die”
For someone expecting a “He’s awake and demanding food” this was a big shock. It’s a big shock for anyone but it was so much worse for someone who was expecting to go into the room and see their partner with a big grin on his face and asking me why I didn’t smuggle Berlioz in to see him.
So what do you do when you are informed the love of your life has less than 24 hours with you and probably won’t wake up again?
Well I bolted. I ran down to the street below and had a small meltdown which I feel like is at least a little bit reasonable. My brain couldn’t even begin to process that information. What was I going to do? How was I going to afford to pay rent? What was Berlioz going to do? What am I even meant to do in this situation? I sat on the side of the street outside the hospital and cried. I had no idea what to do. I had no idea how to start. My brain was one big question mark. The biggest question being why me? What did I do to deserve this? What did Riley do to deserve this? I remember registering not only was it cold but it was dark and there were people across the street watching. I somehow managed to return to that room. Where they told me what was happening. I rang my mother. Told her what was happening. And then I sat in the corridor and I refused to move. They bought me tea and tissues. (Really the amount of tea I have drunk over the last 6 months is insane.)
I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. There were people rushing around me, my family came in. My father rang me and organised him and my stepmother to come down to Dunedin. My best friend rang to organise her flying down to be with me.
I remember very little and yet everything about that morning. I put a post up on Facebook so his friends could come in and say goodbye. It was helpful to me. Instead of thinking about it, I just organised people’s visits. I went in to see him. All bundled up in a plethora of blankets and casts. I started drawing little doodles on his casts. I drew a little heart with our initials. I drew a penis. I drew a mountain. (Turns out I’m not great at drawing but that’s okay.) I watched over the man I loved. Hoping he would wake up even once so I could talk to him again. So many things I wanted to say. So many things I wanted him to say. First being he felt better and he wanted food. Second being that he loved me and always would. I mean really he could talk about ram in a computer for all I cared. But not getting one last conversation, one last goodbye, it’s the thing that upsets me the most. Sure he knew I loved him, and I know he loved me too (At least he better of) but it felt so unfinished. So unreal.
We all kept hoping that by some miracle, his brain wouldn’t swell. That he would survive and I would open my eyes and be greeted by him breathing on his own and him stirring as he awoke like what happens in movies.
Turns out movies lie to you. There is nothing glamorous about hanging off the edge of your boyfriend’s hospital bed. There is no doctor ‘House’ that swoops in, last minute with a new idea that could save the one you love. There is no hot young doctor who turns your head and makes you forget about your partner in the bed beside you. It’s just you sitting alone, watching the person that you care about most in this shitty world, knowing there is nothing you can do, nothing you can say. You can’t save him. You are helpless.
This is the one bit the movies got right. You sit down next to the bed. The world blurs all around you, the lights dim and you feel like you are right under a spotlight as you realise everyone is watching your every move and will continue to for the immediate future.
So I sat, I stared and I cried for a solid portion of the 14th of August 2016. Until I got sent home to get some sleep. I spent the entire time staring at the ceiling with just one thought running through my head. ‘Please don’t die, my love’. I remember watching my phone click over to the 15th of August or as I now know it, ‘the day my love died and I realised this world is a shitty place.’ (Something I have learnt time and time again)
Getting the news that you have less then 24 hours with the one you love is a shittiest experience. Whether they are awake or not, stay with them. Speak to them. Say all those things you never have or want to remind them of. Whether it’s “You know that I love you right?” or “I really wish you didn’t eat my piece of cake that one time” to rambling like a crazy woman about trains or singing. (I sang very quietly and badly to him. It was ‘Something Good’ by Bic Runga)
“Something good will come our way
And maybe this good things gonna happen today”
Whatever it is, just be with them until the end.
Riley learning to stilt walk for my amusement. Imagine my dismay when it turned out he was actually quite good!