The day I gave my husband permission to die

**This blog was originally published in April of 2017.

On Sunday, February 12th, 2017 I felt so strongly that I needed to give my husband permission to die. But I didn't want to. He was so tired. Tired from the two years of cancer treatment. Tired of the many hospital stays. Tired from the paralysis. His body was weak. During the two years he received chemotherapy he never talked about being tired. He would talk about how it is was hard and his body was hurting. But within the last few weeks of his life, he began saying often how tired he was. His body had fought for so long and he was tired of fighting. And I believe he was looking towards me to give him permission to stop fighting.

 (The last picture I took of my husband as I was holding his hand)

 But I didn't want to. I didn't want to let go of my amazing husband. I couldn't imagine a life without him in it. Every single dream I had for my life he was in it. And I couldn't let go. I was willing to take care of him for the rest of my life if that was needed. It would not have bothered me to get up every two hours in the night to turn him. I would not have considered it a burden to change him and feed him for the rest of my life. During the five months that he was paralyzed we were pretty much confined to our house. With the exception of his doctor appointments, I could count on my hand the number of times I left the house. And I would have stayed house bound for the rest of my life to take care of my husband. Because I loved him so much. And I didn't want him to die. 

(We took this picture February 9th. We were discussing discharge plans with the doctor earlier that day)

 On January 31st, my husband was hospitalized for blood transfusions. The Thursday before he passed away, we were discussing home discharge plans. They started him on an antibiotic that day to treat the infection in his bone that developed as a result of a wound he developed in the hospital a few months before. This antibiotic caused an infection. And on Sunday, February 12th he was incredibly sick. I seriously thought he would get better though. I thought the medicine they started him on would kick in and we would go home later that week. But within my spirit I felt the need to give him permission to die.

(My son holding my husband's arm as he was hooked up to the breathing machine)

I didn't though. As he was transported down to ICU on Sunday the 12th because his blood pressure was dipping incredibly low, I stayed by his side like I had done during the course of the last two years. I held his hand and told him everything was going to be okay. I prayed for him and I rubbed his head and told him we were going to get through this.But I could not bring myself to give him permission to die.Because I did not want a life without him. I wanted him to keep fighting. I knew he was tired. I knew he was hurting, but I wanted him with me. I didn't want him to die. Things didn't get better after he was transported to ICU though. By the evening he was having trouble breathing and they put a bipap mask on him to help him breath. And early Monday morning the doctor's told me that they needed to hook him up to a breathing machine to stabilize his breathing.  Later that morning the doctor's told me that they didn't think he was going to make it. 

(The last picture I have of my husband and I together. He was so sick but forced a smile)

And I knew that I had to give my husband permission to die. He was tired. He was hurting. He had endured so much pain within the last two years but so much in the last five months since he was paralyzed. My husband was the most selfless person I know. He would have stayed in the position of paralysis and endured countless more hospital stays for many years if he knew I wouldn't be okay without him. He would have continued enduring the pain he was in for me and our children.I truly believe my husband needed to hear from me that I was okay with him not fighting anymore and that we would be okay. There is a love and intimacy only spouses will understand and my husband needed to hear from the one he loved the most that it was okay to stop fighting.  In the months leading up to his death he  spent a lot of time worrying and praying for me and our children. He dreamed a lot about him being in heaven in those months. He had peace about where he was going but he wanted to make sure that our children and I would be okay. And he held on and fought so long for us. 

 (The last picture of my husband and kids together. We took it Thursday the 9th. The next time my children would see their dad he would be hooked up to a breathing machine)

 (On January 29th my husband wanted to get out of his hospital gown and wear a t-shirt. So we put one on him. This was the first time in over 5 months that he wore a tshirt and not a hospital gown. It would also be the last time he would wear a tshirt.)

And so on Monday, the 13th as he had breathing tubes in him, I held his hand. He opened his eyes and nodded in response to my questions. I let him know how brave he was. I let him know that he was and always would be my hero. I told him that I didn't want to experience life without him. I told him that he had fought so long and so hard and was the strongest person I knew. I told him he was an amazing husband and father.. I told him that I understood how tired he was. I recognized how hard it was for him the last few months being paralyzed. I thanked for all that he had done for me and for our children. I told him that his life was a true testimony of how a Christian should live.  And with tears streaming down my eyes, I told him he didn't have to fight anymore because he had won this race and that he could stop fighting. He held on for 24 hours after they put the breathing tube in him. For the last 24 hours of his life, I sat by his side and held his hand. I laid on his lap as I fell asleep. I let him know how amazing he was. And on February 14th the doctors told me they didn't think he had much longer to live. So I whispered in his ear that he had won the race and was about to meet Jesus face to face. I told him once again that we would be okay and at 7:24 his heart stopped beating. 

And as much as it killed me to give him permission to die, it was the selfless thing to do. And it was important for my husband to hear that we would be okay. It was what he needed to hear to have peace about not fighting anymore. It is hard letting go. It is hard telling the person you love so much that they don't have to fight anymore. My husband was my best friend. He knew me better than anyone else. We spent virtually every day for over 7 years of marriage together. Every dream I had of the future included him in it. And I didn't want him to die. But my husband needed to hear from me that it was okay to stop fighting. He needed me to recognize how tired he was. And he needed me to let him know that we were going to be okay. 

He will always be my hero. He is no longer tired. And I am thankful for that.