The last lucid conversation Rick held was in his Oncologist’s office on a Monday. The pancreatic tumor was seriously compromising his body’s ability to get enough oxygen. And now the tumor on his liver was taking away his brain’s ability to focus and stay alert. So, the new path forward was for Rick to begin Hospice.
As the Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner was going over the Hospice details, she remembered that Rick had wanted one last family beach trip and we were scheduled to start it on that Friday. Weeks earlier Rick had helped me decide which San Mateo County beach house to rent after reviewing the available listings.
The NP said that it was still possible depending on Rick’s condition and she asked Rick if he wanted to make the trip. Rick said yes, he wanted to go to the beach with our family.
And then Rick passed on Thursday, just three days later. I felt so sad because he and I never got to hold one last, intimate conversation. But we had no way of knowing how fast Rick would be leaving his body behind. Rick had been ready for a fight against cancer, but cancer does not fight fair. And cancer hit Rick with a sucker punch while he was just hearing the rules of the fight. Even though we never got to have a last good conversation I had told him “I love you” or something I loved about him every time I had to leave his side in his last weeks, and I’m so very grateful for that.
And now 2.5 months later it dawns on me that I gladly forfeit ‘our last conversation’ because it means Rick’s last conversation was with him stating his wishes: to see his sisters and niece, to have a beach house weekend on the San Mateo County coast with his wife & sons, to greet the day with salty sea air and watch the sun set in the Pacific Ocean. His last conversation culminated in Rick still having things to look forward to and to have that small morsel of hope to take another taste of the life he loved. It comforts me that he still held that before he would peacefully rest and move to a place where there is no pain.