Chris was a gadget guy. He loved gadgets and remote controls He was always buying a new universal remote, because the new one was more universal than the previous one. I have since donated quite a few of them because I don’t know how they work. When I cancelled my DTV service I kept one of their remotes because it is the only way I know to work the television. Don’t worry, they charged me for it.
When we lived in Los Angeles we had remote controlled ceiling fans. I loved them until the one time I happened to be standing in exactly the wrong place when I tried to use them. I turned on one of the fans but not the other two. I tried again and a different fan came on and the first fan went to a higher speed. The third one stayed off. Chris was a bit miffed at me. He spent the better part of the weekend trying to find the magic spot where he could get the fans synced up again but we could only ever manage to get two of them in sync. The other one was always off.
There came a time in his illness when he became bedridden and the hospice people recommended a hospital bed. He could go to the family room on a good day, but good days were few and it was very draining for him. He would spend the next few days sleeping from the exertion. Most of the time he stayed in bed. I knew of the possibility of bed sores and other problems from being immobile. The bed we looked at had an air mattress that would massage the patient lying on it. Chris would have constant circulation he couldn’t get in our bed. This is all good stuff but I swear the thing that sold Chris was the remote control.
When the bed was delivered and being set up he watched with wide eyes. He had the look on his face of a kid at his own birthday party. The guy sat with him and showed him how to adjust the head of the bed, the foot of the bed, and the knee section of the bed. Chris learned all the different types of massages his bed offered and how to set up his favorites so it could cycle as he slept. He could raise the bed or lower it depending on his mood. When the guy left Chris hollered at me to come in and see the new toy. He played with all the buttons and adjusted the presets to his liking and showed me what it could do.
It was so good to see him happy and yet I was doing everything I could not to cry. He finally realized this and asked “does the bed scare you?”
“I just realized that I’m never going to wake up beside you again” I said. “We’ll never get to fall asleep with all the animals like a pack. I won’t get to reach out and touch you. Our old bed looks so big for just me.”
He smiled at me. It was a sad smile because he knew it was true. We both knew this new step was being taken because he wasn’t going to get better. We were just doing our best to assure his comfort as he was dying. He patted the space next to him on the bed and asked me to come and sit with him. He held my hand and we both cried.
His parents were in town the day the bed was delivered, and his caseworker and counselor came to visit with all of us. I moved him to the family room to visit with them and excused myself. I spent the next two hours rearranging the bedroom so that he was directly across from me. Even if I couldn’t touch him while he slept, I could see him.
My bed was pushed up against the dresser. We couldn’t get into the drawers so I piled all the clothes in boxes on top of the dresser. The cats thought this was a Christmas miracle and immediately took ownership of a couple of the boxes. His Lazy Boy chair was in the room so someone could sit with him when he slept or watched TV or felt like playing cards. There was a pretty big TV in the room too, with a remote control of it own (of course.) Once the room was finished there was a small pathway that led from the doorway to the master bathroom. My bed was on the left and his on the right. Every other piece of furniture was crammed into the other half of the room. The dresser, the nightstands, the bookcase, the TV stand, the dog crate. His parents were not impressed but Chris understood.
That night Chris adjusted the bed to his liking and fell asleep. I watched him and eventually fell asleep as well. The cats slept in their new found boxes and Rizzo slept in the bed next to me. I would usually wake up a couple of hours before Chris so that I could get some work done before we began his morning regimen of medications, colostomy changing, and bath time. Instead, this morning I grabbed my pillow and crawled in at the foot of his new bed and wrapped myself around his legs. I slept there until he woke. He stretched a bit and looked down at me. He smiled the biggest of smiles. I continued to do this for the last few months we had together. I would have done anything to be near him.
The night after he died I slept in his hospital bed. Several hours into the night I felt a bump on the bed and it was my dog. She wanted to come up with me. I put her at the foot of the bed. When I woke up in the morning both cats, Cyclops and Tragedy, were sleeping with us. The pack had been reformed. We all knew Chris was gone and I think somehow, we were holding on to him by rebuilding our bonds with each other. The next day they came to take the hospital bed away and I was just as sad to see it go as I had been when it arrived.