Monday, December 8, 2008

The Day Bear Died


This post may upset people as it does get graphic in a few spots.


This is the story of the last couple hours of Bear's life. I may or may not post this story. I am just writing it for now. I apologize in advance for any errors in typing or grammar. I will not edit this post.

It was November 27, 2008.

I had stayed home in the morning to make cookies for Bear. Having been told just two days prior that the outlook looked better for Bear, I was in a bit of a better mood and wanting to get things ready for his surprise birthday party which was to take place on his birthday, November 29th.

I arrived to the hospital to find the parking lots full again. Usually, when this happens, I go into a panic and I will either freak out or I will go to the McDonald's parking lot and park there knowing that by parking there I will only have three hours with Bear that day. On this day, however, I found myself being uncharacteristically patient and I waited for about 5-10 minutes for the lot to have a free spot. And wouldn't you know it? It was worth the wait because I got the best spot in the whole lot.

When I went into the hospital, I realized I was hungry so I grabbed myself a bite to eat from the cafeteria, and then I went up to Bear's room. I walked in and they were stripping the bed and Bear was no where to be found. Due to past experience, I freaked out and thought he had died and the nurses assistant turned around and saw me standing there and informed me that Bear was having a bath.

I went down to the bath-room and I actually went inside and saw Bear in the tub. It was the first time I have actually seen him in the tub, and it was a neat experience because I always wondered just how it worked. I let him know I was here and I gave him a kiss and went back to his room to wait for him. While I waited, I ate my lunch and flipped through a few channels on the television.

Bear came back from his bath and they continued to dry him off and get him back into his bed. He was awake and in a decent mood. He was not in as much pain as he had been as of late. In fact, this was the first time he had been out of the bed in I think three days.

I took this as a good sign and I told him maybe later we can get him in his chair and go for a walk. Maybe today he will finally feel up to leaving the palliative care ward and go for a walk in the hospital lobby and cafeteria.

Shortly after he was put back into bed, he received his regular medication, and soon there after he fell asleep. He struggled to keep his eyes open so we could have conversation and I told him it was okay to sleep. I will just entertain myself with the television.

The next thing I knew, it was supper time, and Bear had pretty much slept the entire afternoon away. He told me he was too tired to eat his supper and I told him that was okay, he does not always have to eat every meal if he is not hungry or is tired. He had told me that he had already had both his breakfast and his lunch prior to my arrival to the hospital, so it wasn't like he hadn't eaten all day.

I waited a while to see if he was going to eat and then I wondered if I should just go home for the night, and let him sleep. I told him this and he said that it was probably a good idea for me to go. I asked him if he was okay, as I always do, and he said yes, and that he was just tired and he apologized for being terrible company.

He had been having trouble coughing a little bit before this and just as I was discussing weither or not to go home, the nurse and student nurse came in with an oxygen tube to help him breathe. They explained to me that he just needs some more oxygen so he can force out the cough that he had. I was perfectly okay with this explanation.

Just as I was pulling on my boots, a nurse I had never seen before came in and she said to me in a tone that worried me, "are you coming back?" after I told her that I was going home because we have a dog at home that needed to go potty. I asked her "should I?" and she looked at me with this look on her face that made my heart jump. And then I started to cry, "are you telling me he's going to die??" and I looked at Bear and I ran over to him "Are you dying today?!" He opened his eyes and said no I don't think I am going to die today. I am just tired"

By this time, I was gasping for breath myself and I was so upset! Bear's night time nurse came back in the room and tried to figure out why I was so upset. Finally, she understood and she went to talk to the other nurse who said that this was not her intention. She was merely wondering if I was coming back.

The night time nurse took me into the lounge to calm down a bit. I am not sure what was going on with Bear at this point, but I do remember sitting in the lounge and being very upset at that nurse for saying something if it wasn't true.

Back in the room again, I continued to debate whether I should go home or stay. I was very worried about staying and then the other side of me kept thinking about my pup needing to pee. I know she is a dog and I needn't worry but I still felt torn.

The nurse and the social worker are in the room and they ask us who can we call? Can anyone go and take care of the pup? They keep going on and on about this and, thinking back on this, I feel that it was kind of suspicious. At one point the social worker says how about we call your mom and Bear's mom, and asks for their telephone numbers. Bear and I both tell her that they all live out of town. At least three hours away. The social worker says she will phone them anyway. She later comes back and says that both his mom and mine are on their way and will be here in just a few hours.

In the end I decided to stay. Bear is sleeping and I had the chair pulled up next to his bed. He is breathing loudly and every now and then I turn towards him to see if he is okay. He mumbles in his sleep, which is unusual for him. I now believe he was either trying to tell me something, or he was talking to someone 'on the other side'.

I am watching television. I remember that I was watching Survivor. I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to it, but it was on. I remember that it was a clip show of what has happened so far this season. It was not a brand new episode because it was American Thanksgiving.

I do not remember if the show had ended yet or not when suddenly, for no apparent reason, I suddenly stood up and felt it was very, very, VERY, important that I take Bear out of the room.

I woke him up and I told him that it was time to go home. It was time to leave that room. The hospital was no longer a safe place for him. I tried to get him up and I tried to remove the bed from the room. I grabbed all his stuff and threw it on the bed with him and I tried to put my jacket on him. There was a part of me that was still rational and saying to myself, that I was being crazy, a lunatic. Part of me realized that I was causing a scene and that I was embarrassing my husband. Part of me realized that I was hurting him when I was trying to move him, but the part of me that took over was this irrational, fearful side and I was crying and screaming and I was telling him that I had to take him out of that room. I tried to put my jacket on him so he would not be cold, and I begged him to listen to me, to stay awake, and I pleaded with him and I tried to convince him that the hospital was trying to kill him.

Bear kept trying to open his eyes and he tried to talk, he kept mumbling and I could not understand him. I kept telling him, Bear I do not hear you! I can not understand you! The nurses are trying to keep me from moving the bed and they kept pulling me away from Bear and I kept yelling at them that I must take him out of that room. They asked me how I was going to get him out and I said I will figure it out.

At one point the nurse or the social worker or somebody said they were going to call the doctor to come and tell me that it is not a good idea for Bear to leave the hospital. They asked Bear what he wanted to do and he said wait for doctor. He could not keep his eyes open at this point. I would stop for a few min and sit on the edge of the bed and hug him and cry but then I would feel that absolute need to get him out of that room again and freak out.

I was pulling on his arms and I know I was hurting him but I could not help myself. I even tried to tell him that the doctors have drugged him so he can not move his legs but he probably really could. I said come on you can do it, let's go!

Suddenly, he sat up with more strength than he has had in over a month and he said in a very loud clear voice "Okay, I am ready to go home now", then he laid back down and his eyes shut. A very dark feeling came over me and I kept asking him what he meant by that, but I knew and I screamed and I cried and I kept saying no NO NO! and at one point the doctor came in while I was burying my head into him and pleading him to listen to me. His eyes started to roll back and spasm and I asked is he having a stroke? The doctor said no. I said is he dying? The doctor said he is very, very close." I screamed NO NO NO! and I hugged him and I cried and I felt like I would puke.

Suddenly, Bear's eyes opened up wider than they have been opened in at least three days, perhaps since he has been in the hospital. He looked around the room and then his eyes closed again. His head plopped to the side and he began to moan while making a strange fish face. It seems to me he was struggling whether to go or stay. He looked so sad. Almost as quick as this started, it was over. My bear was gone.

He was pronounced dead at 8:40 pm, November 27, 2008. Less than two days before his 38th birthday.


liz said...


I have to believe that those on the other side understand far, far more than we do. And I know Bryan understands your freak-out. There is no reason to feel bad or ashamed or sorry for wanting to get him out of there. You were trying to hold on, by whatever means necessary. Those of us that have been touched by grief all can say that there is something that they regret or wish they could change or explain, that we wish we had done more, or less. But, honestly, what we are looking for is a different outcome. We wish we could change the death. We wish we could have saved them. Bryan knows that. He honestly and truly knows that. And he knows how very much you love him.

Jo said...

Hugs Terri. I am glad that you wrote that down... and would be even if you hadn't posted it. I think it will help in your grieving process to have it written down.... out of your head as much as it can be.

Monica said...

I completely agree with everything Liz said. She said it much better than I could.

You, in no way, played any part in Bryan passing away. It was his time to go and you were not ready to say goodbye. I think many of us would feel the same way in that situation.

Thank you for continuing to share your story. My heart aches for you.

As always, much love.

Denise said...


Your reaction is normal. I have seen worse and everyone deals in their own way. No one can tell you it is wrong or right. Be glad that you were there to be able to hold and kiss him while he was alive.

It took alot of strength to be able to share this story and in time you will see that it will help you heal. Bear is looking down at you and is very proud of the strength and love that you have shown.

You will both love each other forever and no matter what anyone says never feel ashamed or upset for getting attention during this time. We all love you Terri

(((BIG HUGS)))

momtimes4 said...

Oh Terri, I see what you did as the greatest final gift you could give to Bryan. Wanting to rescue him, and trying to act on those feelings show how much you love Bryan and that you would do anything to keep him safe and with you. You couldn't expect yourself to be ready to say goodbye, it was too soon, he was too young, and you love him.

It was Bryan's time to go, he was ready, and he was blessed with having you by his side fighting for him to the very end.

steviegator2004 said...

Terri this must have been so hard to write but I am sure it was very healing...I was with my Father when he pasted and now it was one of the most incredible things that I witnessed as well as the saddess thing I were there when God came to get your Bear. thru out this whole thing you have showed me incredible strength...I hope that one day your life will get back to the new normal. Bear's story is beautiful and I was honored to read it and honored that you shared it with us...the urns are also beautiful...Hang in there we are all here for you...

Joc(e) said...

I know we've talked about this many times, Ter...and it is a very sad story. But with what that nurse told you, who wouldn't have a panic attack?? You didn't want him to go and you had almost no warning. It really isn't surprising at all that you wanted to hold on to him and take him away to a safe place.

I think the fact that you were there for him when he took his last breath was VERY important. Your love for each other was, and is, very strong. No one can ever take that away from you.

Love you Ter!! (((HUGS)))

Niecey said...

He knew up to the very last minute, how loved he was. He knew you'd have given anything to keep him with you. Man this made me cry. I am so sorry.

Caitlin said...

thank you for sharing this intimate time in your life with us. I am so sorry that Bryan got sick and left you. I know that he must have known how much you loved him.

Respectfully Yours said...

I read your story with tears in my eyes. God Bless you for keeping your Bear safe and loved until the end. I look for God's blessings, thank goodness you were there with him to hold him and touch him. Luv to you.

Christy said...

I believe that your husband knew how much you loved him and what you did was for that reason only. I can't imagine watching someone I love go through that, and I mean from your perspective and your husbands. My husband had to watch me go through a trauma that he had no control over and it was probably just as traumatic as going through the trauma itself. I think you did everything you could for him. I wish for you to not look back at what you think you should have or wished you had done, but rather to look back and know that he knew exactly how much you loved him...and still do. Hugs to you. I am so sorry for your husband and your daughter.

Carolee / Home4ever said...

I just discovered your blog- I am so, so sorry for your losses!

I was with my brother and Dad when they passed away- it's so hard....

Louise said...

I'm just finding your blog and I just wanted to send you a hug.