I either love Columbus Day or I hate it. I hate it because it was the last day that Mark was home. The Tuesday after Columbus Day he went into the second hospital and never came back. I was off of work for Columbus Day and together with Mark’s parents we decided that it would be the test day for Mark to see if he could take care of Nicholas by himself. Until then, Mark’s parents stayed at our apartment with Nicholas while I went to the office. They were exhausted and wanted to be home as much as we were exhausted and wanted to be back to normal.
So we spent the weekend together. Mark figured out how to get around the apartment without running into anything or dropping the baby. We moved the furniture around, we got the playpen and crib set up so Mark could manuever. And Mark snuggled with Nicholas. That’s why I love the memory of that weekend, that Columbus Day. Mark got a full day of snuggle time with Nicholas. No pressure on him because I was home too. Except for one moment when he really wanted to go for a drive (and drive himself) where he got out at a store and fell, it was a very good weekend.
He felt confident that he would be able to take care of Nicholas starting on the Tuesday after Columbus Day. He said it would be slow going, but Nicholas wasn’t really rambunctious or anything, so he thought he could handle it. He was excited to be getting back to normal. We were searching for doctors, figuring out his new diet, learning what “normal” was going to be for our little family.
It only lasted that weekend. On Tuesday he would be back in a hospital and would never sleep in our bed again. Just over a week after that happy weekend he would be in a coma. One month after that he would be in hospice taking his last breath. His parents and sister were on one side, my mother, Nicholas and I on the other. His mother held his right hand while Nicholas and I held his left. When it was clear that he was at the end, I turned off the last loud machine associated with his death. The room got quiet, you could only hear breathing. Labored breathing, gasping breaths, N’s faster baby breath, and our breathing…trying to stay calm for Mark. Letting him know it was okay. Nobody really talking except to tell Mark we loved him and were with him. And then he was gone.
It didn’t all really start on Columbus Day, of course; but, I’ve always associated today with Mark’s final fight. It wasn’t until just now, as I was writing this, that I thought that maybe I should be happy when Columbus Day rolls around as it was the last weekend we had together. Just me, Mark and his precious boy.