So, if you’re reading along, you’ve probably been waiting for this post of The Final Weeks. (oh, and thank you so much for reading, commenting, sharing and liking my posts!)
I was actually watching TV last night, when the ad for the new season of Offspring came on. Losing your partner, leaving a baby girl behind, it all cuts a little too close to home. Nina closes the ad by saying something like, ‘I have my daughter and family and that’s more than most people have’. Gosh, it felt like the producers had been flies on my wall when Nick was first gone, I remember using that same phrase over and over!
But, it prompted me to start thinking about writing this piece…the ending.
The truth is, i’ve been putting off writing it, because there is so much more to Nick then just the last 7 months of this life, and i’ve always concentrated instead on all the other times we shared.
I’ve always said, from Nick’s diagnosis to his death, was the best and worst time of our life, all at once. Living this great life, when he was well, but ultimately knowing it was on borrowed time, and so the last weeks begin..
We had managed to stay out of being admitted to hospital and things were actually ok. Sure, he had metastatic cancer from the spots on his liver, deep vein thrombosis in his leg and a bloated stomach most of the time, but life was ok, we were getting by and having fun.
Looking back now, there were signs that all was not well with him. The hospital had got us in touch with a palliative care organisation, but Nick still felt mostly good, so we just took down their details and didn’t think much of it. Clearly, our Doctors were looking at Nick’s results knowing something was coming, and that he’d need more care soon. They told us it was just as a precaution, that it was best to be on their radar for if we might need them suddenly.
The palliative care guys, got in touch with me, they wanted to become involved in his care, but Nick wasn’t interested in having any more nurses prodding at him, so I told them we’d let them know when it became too tough for me to handle. But, we were managing just fine, with our daily home doctor visits and me playing nurse, we should have been scared by the words palliative care, but we weren’t. They are usually a sign that the end is coming near, past hospital care.
When Nick told me he was never going back to work, from pushing and desperately wanting to be back at Toyota, to admitting to me, it wasn’t going to happen, was a major indication he knew things weren’t going to improve either.
With a return to Toyota off the cards, he needed other projects to keep him busy. When my family’s farm dog died, he set about, making it his mission to buy a new one. He spent time researching til he found the right one. Now, Nick was never a ‘dog’ person, but once he bought the puppy, he came to love her. Nick even suggested we keep the puppy, he named her Jackie, because she was a Jack Russell, but then again, creativity wasn’t his strong point.
So, that was one project done, now onto the next..
Nick was quite the handyman, so when the job came, of climbing up into our roof at home to look at the heater unit, he didn’t want to call a mate or tradesman, instead preferring to do it himself, to mostly, keep himself busy and still feel useful. Remember, he was very weak and not as agile as he used to be, but there was no debating this with him, he was going up, and he did, balancing on the beams above, until he slipped right through the roof. Bits of plaster and ceiling rained down on me, as I held our little girl below him, Nick’s foot dangling just centimeters from my head. He didn’t go back up there again. He patched the roof, but didn’t get around to painting it before he passed.
I had almost liked seeing this patched up piece of the ceiling after he was gone, just another reminder of him. It was in my main living area and very noticeable. People would ask me about it, and I loved telling the story. We had laughed about it together, once he was down and ok. But, it was also the realisation that he wasn’t able to do what he used to, his body was letting him down. Only recently, I had this properly patched and painted, it took 3 years for me to ok the repairs! Am I weird, that I liked it there ?!?
And one of the final projects he undertook, he never got to see the completion of, and was probably the saddest thing for me. He had decided, on a whim, to purchase an R100 car, to do up.
Now, if you know Nick, you’d remember how he had built and loved his RX7, in fact, when we met, way back in 1999, it was his pride and joy. Being a passenger in his car, was a privilege, one of our first dates was a ride in his car, seriously! Who doesn’t have a story about his RX7 to tell ?? We all knew how much he loved it!
He had sold his car, when he felt he was too grown up and adult to have a toy car anymore, but I think it always made him sad that he got rid of it. So, enter the R100 instead. He had grand ideas of doing it up and us cruising the countryside in it. He purchased it from a guy in QLD, through lots of emails and calls during his final days, the sale was completed on 25th February, Nick passed away 10 days later. He never got to see it, it arrived the following week.
This fell in line with my ‘let him do whatever he wants’ time. Sure, I never actually believed he’d get to see this project to the end, but I had hoped he get a start on it. It made him so happy talking about rotaries and wheels again.
Nobody questioned him, we just let him get on with it, he even ordered custom seats for the car. They arrived the day of his funeral, I missed the delivery, then had to take his death certificate to the post office to collect them. It was the first of many surreal moments following his death.
I emailed the guy who he had bought the seats from, explaining the situation, asking if he’d take them back. ‘I’m sorry, he said, but no, they’re yours now.’ What the hell was I going to do with racing seats ?? Thanks Nick!
He had also bought a motor for the car, but I didn’t know about that til I was clearing some paperwork in our study, following his death and found a receipt for a $3000 motor. My jaw dropped, he had snuck this purchase by me when I wasn’t looking. How sneaky!
I was lucky enough to sell the car to someone as soon as it arrived here, and I do want to say a big thanks to everyone involved with helping me get rid of the seats and motor!! I look back now and sometimes wish I had kept everything in his honour, and had the car done up the way he’d have wanted, but at the time of his passing, all I wanted was to get rid of it all, it only served as a reminder of this final weeks.
And so, I lead into his actual final week, things were ok. It all began on the Australia Day long weekend. My parents have a 100 acre farm property in Pheasant Creek, just near Kinglake West.
In all our time together, we had never stayed overnight, preferring day visits and the easy 40 minute drive home. For some reason, that weekend on the Sunday, Nick was adamant we needed to stay, it was as though he knew it would be his final time there.
It was an extremely hot weekend, hitting the 40 degree mark. Nick had been fine all day, the heat was warming up his otherwise cold bones. But he was quieter than normal, and when visitors arrived, he re-treated to our bedroom, not feeling up for chatting. Still though, we thought nothing of it, mum cooked his favourite dinner and pretty soon we were off to bed, our daughter sleeping between us.
Two hours later, I woke up to Nick staring and hovering over me. ‘Chel, call me an ambulance, something’s wrong’.
And from the look on his face, I knew it was serious.
I’ll leave it there for now, thanks for reading along. I will pick it up at the same part next week.
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Til next time, Michela x