“Me too”, I think to myself.
I ask him, “How do you feel about that?”
“It sucks”, resounds in my head.
He responds by going through the alphabet again, “I will miss you.”
Is it ever easy to let go when someone close to you is dying? I think it is safe to say that we selfishly want our loved ones to cling to life, to be with us a little longer, fighting for every breath here on earth unwilling to concede defeat to whatever is battling inside them. There comes a point when the person realizes they are losing and they begin to question which is worse, the pain of holding on or the pain of giving in. If we are courageous, we question essentially the same thing, “Which is worse, the pain of their suffering or the pain of letting them go?”
As Akhil struggles for breath, I feel a tightness in my chest as I acknowledge that the end of this journey is nearer than I would like. A part of me is dying along with him. The part of me that imagined growing old together is withering inside. The idea of retiring somewhere warm and spending our golden years traveling the world has to be put to rest. The vision of Akhil being healed and reaching out to take my hand or embrace me will have to reside permanently in my dreams.
Perhaps it is difficult to say “good-bye” because we are not only letting our loved one go but also a piece of ourselves. It seems like that departure will leave us wondering if we will ever feel whole again. Will we miss that part of ourselves as much as we miss the one who is gone?
In spite of this journey winding down for us, I will never give up hope, hope for a cure for ALS, for a treatment that can restore function to those already afflicted with the disease and still battling, and hope that my heart will go on.