And then his last day came

If you haven’t read last weeks post, then you might want to do that before beginning today’s- and then his last day came. If you’ve only just found this site, welcome, but you’ll probably want to start from the beginning so you can catch up!

Now that’s out of the way, let’s begin.

We had made it home in the ambulance, no sirens blaring, it was a little different to Nick’s last trip in one. We pulled up out the front of our house and they wheeled him in on the stretcher, our friend John had already arrived and watched as Nick was taken out of the ambulance.

He told me at the time, that he noticed Nick look more relaxed as he realised he was home, that the tension in his face disappeared.

I knew we’d done the right thing, it was where Nick wanted to be, back in our home in the suburbs.

It was the first home we bought together, the home we poured our hearts and hard work into, the place we first bought our little girl home to, our home of many gatherings and fun memories and now it would be the place of his final breath.

We set Nick up in our bedroom, as comfortable as we could make him. He was only semi-conscious, drifting in and out of sleep and not being able to say very much, his voice was just a whisper.

And then his last day came
Happier times at a work function in 2007

Phone calls were made, letting friends and family know of his new situation, many of them couldn’t believe how quickly it had transpired, some were planning on visiting the hospital that day. I asked for privacy at that time, as the last thing I wanted was a circus on an already emotional day.

I kept things calm and in control. A few people were invited to come and say their goodbyes, others preferred not to, wanting to keep their last memories of Nick, happy ones instead.  I completely understood this.

Our parents arrived, as did our siblings and I re-iterated what the doctors had told me, ‘this was the end, his body was shutting down, there was nothing more that could be done for Nick, we had to let nature take it’s course now, as hard as it was to watch.’ Of course, no one wants to be the one to deliver this news, but I was the only one who could.

There was nothing else left to do, I couldn’t even drain his ascites, which was one of the indications that the end was near, as his body had even stopped producing the fluid. It was slowly letting go. He was on a morphine pump, so he wasn’t in any pain, it administered the medication at regular intervals to keep him comfortable.

And then I set about doing what any European does in times of stress, I made coffee, over and over again.

Throughout the day, everyone had their time with Nick, to say the things they wanted to say, or just to sit and cry. My grandmother sat at his side with her rosary beads praying. His parents, understandably, were inconsolable, nothing could give them any peace. We were literally watching him get closer to the end, with every breath he took.

I kept my cool, making sure there was no screaming or carrying on, I kept saying, ‘Nick wouldn’t want to hear any wailing over him, let him go in peace.’ I asked that our bedroom remain quiet and comforting for him instead.

I gave his parents alone time with him, closing my double bedroom doors, so they could be with their son. Their youngest boy, who they obviously adored, who they spent so much time with, who had called his Dad his best friend.

There were angry words said too, but I always knew they came from being scared of a life without Nick, of feeling helpless. They cursed the hospital, his doctors etc. but the truth was, everyone had done all they could, this was inevitable.

I was at peace knowing we had done our best, Nick had confided to me, just the week before, that he was done and over it all. As heart breaking as it was, this was what he wanted too. He couldn’t fight it anymore, pancreatic cancer was going to claim his life.

Over the course of the day, he deteriorated, his waking moments were far and few between, his eyes were permanently half closed. Occasionally a faint smile would cross his lips, like he was remembering a moment in time. He no longer squeezed against my hand, acknowledging that I was there.

We didn’t know if he could hear us anymore, but we kept on talking, especially me, chatting to him like normal, laughing as I re-counted times we shared together and funny moments.  I think everyone thought I was mad that day, not falling into a heap, but it was all I knew how to do, I just wanted Nick to be reminded of all the good times we had, to go out in the most positive way.

It started to get late, Claudia our daughter was put to bed, our families were camped out around the house, no one was wanting to sleep. Mostly there was silence, but Nick was never alone, someone was with him at all times. A constant revolving door, as one person left his side to regain their composure and another took their spot. I bustled in and out, making sure everyone was comfortable, while stealing my moments with Nick.

It was important to me, that everyone had their alone time with Nick, I didn’t feel the need to hover over him constantly, he knew I was there and our families needed the closure.

And then night came, no one was wanting to leave, just in case, though I assured everyone that if they needed to go, I would call if anything happened.

Everyone kind of settled in for the night and  then it was my time alone with Nick. I lay down besides him and held his hand. I continued to softly talk to him about all the wonderful things we’d done together. He was not responsive at all, but I hoped that he could hear me still.

His eyes, though half closed, were transfixed on a spot on the ceiling, I started whispering to him, ‘if there is a light or something, go towards it, let go, we’ll be fine.’ I repeatedly told him, not to hold on for me, that Claudia and I would be ok, we had all the love and support in the world. I thanked him, for choosing me to spend his life with, for being the best husband, father, son and friend to so many. I promised he’d never be forgotten, hence this blog!

I talked on and on, promising to look after his parents and always include them in our daughters life, I spoke of all the things I thought he’d want to hear. I thanked him for all the lessons in life he had shown me and finally, I told him I loved him and would continue to love him all the years of my life.

It had been a long day, having arrived home at 10am, it was now early morning once more, the house was quiet, as mostly everyone had drifted off.

Nick was holding on, his breathing raspy and deep. I remember looking at our bedside table clock it was 4.50am. I was exhausted, I hadn’t drifted off to sleep yet and then I closed my eyes, for what felt like a minute, but was probably closer to 10.

I opened them again and just like that, I noticed he was gone. There had been no sounds, no changes.  I like to think he had waited til we were alone together, til there was silence and everyone was sleeping, til he took his final breath. I’ll always believe he was in control of when the time came.

I sat with him for a while, kissed him goodbye, closed his eyes and relaxed his legs. The doctors had warned me that he could be in this state for days or even weeks, I felt relief that he had only remained like this for such a short time, the relief extended to Nick not suffering anymore. It was over.

And then his last day came
One of my favourite shots, from Derby Day 2010

I walked calmly out of my bedroom and gave the news no one was ready for, “He’s gone’, I said and then the circus really began.

Thank you for reading along, stay tuned next week and i’ll begin with the aftermath of Nick’s passing.

Please keep sharing, liking and commenting, I love knowing your thoughts and how it leaves you feeling.

If it makes you grateful for all you have or makes you act a little kinder towards others, please let me know!

Til next week, Michela xx

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42 thoughts on “And then his last day came

  1. Wow I just came across your blog because I’m feeling emotional over the loss of my husband 5 months ago due to liver cancer. He was 37. We have 2 boys, 5 yr old and 13 month old now. We were together for 18 years.

    It’s almost like I was the author of this blog!! All the events, the thoughts, emotions…exactly what I was going through. We had to watch my husband’s body shut down for 27 hours before he took his final breath which was about 20 minutes after I stepped away from the hospital room. I fully believe he was in control of that. I miss him so much it hurts. I saw your 5yr update and am so glad you found someone else who accepts him as still a very big part of your life. I can’t bare the thought of ever having to put away his pictures or his belongings. I know eventually one day I will, but for now I just want everything frozen in place. It’s been 5 months and I haven’t packed a single thing. I still leave his shoes by the garage door to give myself comfort. Thank you for writing this blog.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Firstly, im so sorry for the loss of your husband, I sincerely hope you’re doing ok. Secondly, im sorry for the tardiness in replying. Im so happy you came across my blog and it spoke to you, us cancer widows have so much in common, right? And there’s nothing wrong with leaving his things where they are, if it brings you any comfort, then thats all that matters. Thank you for taking the time to write to me, it means so much.
      Michela xx

  2. Just want to say my husband passed 6 1/2 weeks ago esophageal cancer. Your story rings so close to our story. Together 14 yrs married (would’ve been 13 yes this August). Three kids 6,8, 11. He absolutely ADORED his job AND his family. Life was good. I was stay at home mom (very much 50’s type wife). Diagnosed in sept 2014 I lost him 7 months later 2015. Passed in my arms took his last breath in my arms. Prayers for you. I pray this pain goes away because it’s sometimes unbearable

    1. Hi Amy, please excuse my tardy reply. Im so very sorry for your loss, thank you for leaving me a message, somehow it always feels better to find someone who has has either gone through something similar or who understands the pain it all leaves behind. Our own personal widows club, that no one wants to be apart of. I hope you are getting through your days with love and support and that by maybe reading a few of my posts some positivity too. The pain of losing your husband will become more bearable as time goes on, this i promise you.
      Sending you all my love and support at this crappy time xxx

  3. Although Nick may not have been able to chose the year nor the month or even the day of his death, I do believe that the dying can and do choose the moment of death. I love it that you supported and encouraged him in his final hours and minutes and were so incredibly there for him in the deepest way possible, even thought it must have been the hardest thing you ever to do. I learnt much from what you shared here, and I believe you gave him such a profound gift with your unswerving and without struggle. Thank you so much for sharing your journey here.

    1. Hi Caroline, yes, it was one of the most difficult things ive ever done, watching Nick slip away, but im also so happy that I was able to be with him til the end, just as he would have wanted.
      Thank you for your lovely comment, and for taking the time to write me! xx

  4. I put my hand on his chest and he was gone. I still really haven’t let go. Trying to go thru stuff and I break. I tear up and can’t cry. All I want to do still lay down and hold him. Still. His two exs were there and the one still pisses me . I still am numb inside. Just me in the house now with all our memories and stuff we had collected to sell for money when it got bad and I don’t know how it go about. My family is out of state and there is no one to talk to. My son is useto mom being strong one nothing gets to her. And I just haven’t been able to do it. Lots of stuff I need to get done in house and don’t know how to ask for help or go about. Can’t do the work self,
    thank you for letting me vent
    thank you for listening

    1. Hi Pat,
      Please vent away! It sucks, there is no other way to put it, while i’m so sorry for your loss, it is just a crap situation to be without the one you love, who you used to do everything with. I know that feeling all too well, there is no relief from it, but it does get a little better over time, I promise you this.
      I know how hard it is for people to understand what you’re going through too, because unless they have been widowed, they’ll never get it.
      I also found it hard to have anyone relate to what I was going through. Im sorry you have no family close by to support you, how old is your son?
      Have you considered joining a widow group, do you have one local? I hear they are great avenues of support and can also assist with ‘getting stuff done’, bc after you become a widow, you lose motivation to even do simple things. I felt this for a while.
      Feel free to write me whenever you like at thepolishedwidow@gmail.com it’s not a burden at all.
      My thoughts are with you!
      Michela xx

  5. I lost my wife in oct2013 she passed at home also her lung cancer had matactised tumors ate though her c1 c2 calvicals in her neck she was fighting strong up to that time I think the broken neck was the last straw she fought with all her heart and I was right with her I loved and love her so much her name was Debbie lane she went two weeks with a broken neck before docs decided maybe a scan may tell us why her pain was so bad they put a brace on did relief some pain but she told me she did not want to fight with chemo etc we called hospice 386 day of fighting I was holding her hand also at 4.30 in the morning when she past what a great lady she your story sounds so much like ours thanks for the blog god bless you and baby I will praying for y’all and reading your blog thank you Ed

    1. Hi Ed,
      Thank you for sharing your wives story, i’m so sorry for your loss, it’s never easy. Cancer is a horrible disease, it eats away at our loved ones and all we can do is watch. Sounds like your love for your wife was what got her through, the life of a carer is often underestimated, but we feel every pain they have. We live this with them. Debbie sounds like a very brave and strong women with a wonderfully supportive husband by her side.
      Thank you so much for reading our story, I hope it doesn’t cause too much sadness for you in doing so. My thoughts are with you also!
      Michela xx

  6. Oh Michela,
    I was one of those living under a rock this last week and am late reading along. Thank you for the insight into who Nick was. Your strength and positivity is amazing. Your humble little blog is inspiring so many to live life to the fullest and appreciate the little things. Thank you.
    Love you lots. xxx

    1. Hi Jojo,
      Thank you so much for reading along, i’ve just tried my best to be true to Nick’s story and our time together, i’m just so grateful that people reading along are being inspired by it. Still pinching myself that people want to read it!
      Love you lots back, my new cousin xxxx

  7. M
    I love reading your blog. It takes me back to when my mum passed and it’s so similar. Since reading your blog I’ve been dreaming of my mum and I love it. Your writing is truly amazing and your strength and positivity. I admit I still get angry but going through this has taught me to live life and nothing else matters except for our health.

    A big hug to you and Claudia xx
    Lisa E

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I’m so happy to hear it’s given you beautiful dreams of your mum, since writing this, I find I dream about Nick all the time, think it means he’s happy i’m doing this for him. It’s ok to still be angry at times, but losing Nick has shown me to live my life fully and i’m so grateful you have gotten the same message from reading. Thank you for reading alone and taking the time to comment.
      Big hugs back to you!
      Michela xx

  8. Oh Michela, I don’t even know how to articulate what to say, I can’t even imagine how hard it would have been back then. Tears galore over here for so many reasons. Two reasons stand out in my mind…

    First: His last moment with you and Second: your strength in terms of sharing happier times during his last moments – I’m sure he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

    From what i’ve gathered from your posts is that Nick was one determined person! and what he wanted – He got! His last moments with you, and his family.. in his own house would have meant the world to him, and all thanks to you too i’m sure.

    Also, he would be so grateful that you left him with happy memories, I have a very strong feeling that he heard every word! So much to say but ill leave it there for now. I’d also like to add, that even though you sometimes didn’t notice the cobwebs in some unnoticable corner (lols), he would have considered you perfect in almost every way! Claudia will be so proud of you if she was to ever read this!!

    Thank you again for sharing this with us.

    – KK x

    1. Hey Kara,
      Thank you for your lovely msg, yep, he was one determined guy and I truly believe he was in control of his last day and moments, I only tried my best to make it as comfortable and positive for him as I could.
      I think Nick thought I was pretty alright, he told me he loved me 100 times a day and that he couldn’t have got through this without me, so I’ll take that as a good thing! Thank you for reading along
      Michela xxxx

  9. I’m really sad reading today like it’s all just happened again. Like I just got that call and I’m just sad. I remember that Saturday morning and I just remember trying to tell my family what had happened…they just kept saying but how? why? it’s too soon…he was ok, what happened? I just wanted to bawl like a baby when I was telling them but I knew nick would bag me for crying so I didn’t. I can’t imagine how you felt, how any of you felt. You’re my rock Chel & nick is still my wisdom when I need it. Really just sad. Love you for doing this babe, there really is no one like you. Thank you xxx

    1. Thanks love for commenting, it was a crap day that Saturday, i don’t think any of our friends were prepared for that news. You’re right though, Nick would have totally bagged you for crying, he would have told you to be there for me and to hold it together. You know he loved you though! Thanks for the encouragement, you have been so supportive xxxxx

  10. Hi michela

    I first saw this blog pop up in my newsfeed and I was drawn to nicks face Firstly as he looks sooooo familiar, but I cant point it! Maybe we crossed paths in a past life – being a mother of 3 I hardly get time to shower little own read anything!
    But ive just read all of nicks story and you write so eloquently it drags me in!!!
    I just want to read more!
    Id like to commend you on such a moving blog obviously about an amazing man – ive cried, changed my pillow at 1am reading due to the tears, laughed thinking of some of the stories and I can relate in bits myself and Id like you to know I have really gotten alot from this so thankyou for some beautiful stories x

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Firstly, chances are you may have known Nick or be friends with someone who knew him, he seemed to have friends everywhere. Thank you so much for taking the little time you have (wow, 3 kids!!) to read and also comment on my blog, so appreciate your time in doing so!
      I actually have never written like this before and definitely not in the past 13 years, so thank you for saying it is eloquent, I write quickly and from the heart and what you read is exactly how it comes through, with no do-overs or editing.
      So happy to hear you’ve gotten something out of this, it’s all I can ask for, it encourages me to keep writing and i’m sure Nick would want me too!
      Thank you again, Michela xx

  11. Michela, thank you for sharing your and Nick’s stories so openly. You both sound like such amazing people and I’m so thankful that you’ve chose to share your stories with the world.

    1. Thank you Carin for reading along and taking the time to comment.
      I’m still surprised so many people are reading along, but it seems to be having an impact on the readers, and the message that life is short and precious, seems to be getting across, i’m so grateful, it’s what Nick always wanted people to know. Thank you again x

  12. Hi Michela. I’ve been really touched by your blog. What a legacy Nick has left us and that you too are forging by your own attitude and character.

    I’ve got something special probably not too many of your friends and family have. Because I work in Whittlesea and travel up and back from South Morang every day, I have the privilege of passing where Nick was laid to rest EVERY day (well, not weekends). I drive past and smile (with a fair dose of sadness) as I think about our mate Nick, and his love for life. He enriched our lives; thanks for enriching our lives furthe, with your blog. God bless you Michela! xx

    1. Hi Michelle,

      So lovely to hear from you! Hope you and your beautiful family are well.
      Nick would be so pleased to know you are going past his resting place everyday, I get there every couple of weeks normally.
      He had such an impact on so many people, im grateful to have this forum now, to show so many more people all about Nick and what his friends and family already knew about him, that he was one of a kind!
      Thank you for reading along, Michela xx

  13. I’ve been reading since the start but I don’t think I’ve commented yet. I just have to say, I think you are amazing in every way – your attitude now, and the way you recount your attitude and actions during Nick’s illness, are so inspiring. This is a beautiful way to remember your husband. Thank you for sharing xxx

    1. Hi Anna,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, always love hearing people’s thoughts.
      Thank you for the compliment, I honestly don’t think i’m amazing, I think Nick had an ability to bring out the best in me, so I have him to thank for me being who I am today. I really enjoy sharing his story, I hope you continue to read along!
      Michela xx

  14. Michela, thank you for sharing this. On one hand it can’t be easy, writing and remembering all these painful details – on the other hand maybe there is something comforting about allowing yours and Nick’s experience to create a community of support and sharing for your family and perhaps many others. I can’t say I know what is worse – the slow drifting off or the suddenly finding him gone, which happened in my case. Both incredibly painful. But I have done the same as you, sharing the details of that day…somehow it is now part of a larger story of our human existence and will not be forgotten. Blessings to you.

    1. Hi Stephanie, I think losing a partner in any way is one of the most painful experiences you can ever have in one’s life, im so sorry for your loss. Writing about my time with Nick, knowing that it has effected so many people reading along, changing their mindset to be grateful for all they have, has encouraged me to keep writing. I agree, its become part of a larger story, ours is not unique unfortunately.
      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, so appreciate it.

  15. Ahhhh Michela, I struggled to get through this one, I continue to print the pages of this blog and pass the story around to those I think need to read it for so many reasons, most of all to be thankful and to remember that when we come accross a bump in the road generally, ‘it’s not the worse thing that could happen’ Thank you for continuing to share your story I can’t imagine there would have been any woman more remarkable for Nick to have shared his journey with than you. Your blog has made me ask questions to my Mum about her father, she was 13 when he passed away from stomach cancer, so her Mum (my grandma) was about your age when she lost her husband, she still cries for him some days yet she is overloaded with love, she is the Matriarch of my family, at 88 she is admired by all who have been created thanks to her and her late husband, he may have left this world much too soon like Nick yet there is so much life & love that was created thanks to him, you are a blessing to your family as you were to Nick. Just so you know as I think I mentioned once before, I will always remember that Nick had the ability in a room full of people to genuinely make you feel as you were the most important person he could be talking to and I loved that about him. Keep smiling xo

    1. Hi Tiff, thank you for your beautiful comment and the insight into your own family. I love that my blog has encouraged conversations and your story about your grandma still crying for your grandfather sometimes, shows that you never get over the loss of your partner, even though you have everything you could ever want in life.
      You truly are The Polished Widow’s fan club, can’t thank you enough for sharing the message im trying to convey, don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s not what’s important in the long run. And yes, Nick had a way of making everyone feels special, its one of the qualities I miss about him the most, his ability to make you feel at ease instantly.
      Lots of love to you and your boys and pls pass on my regards to your mum for reading along too xx

  16. Michela, thank you for this. I am thankful too that you shared that there were indeed angry words. I think it’s important to acknowledge that it isn’t all serenity and calm, quiet goodbyes. He was blessed to have had you, as you were with him.

    1. Hi Naomi, yep, I don’t like to pretend everyone was on board with our positive mindset and obviously when you get to this stage of someone’s life, people do like to blame and pinpoint what went wrong. Ultimately, it is what it is and no amount of discussion is going to change it, and that’s what i’ve always believed. Thank you for taking the time to comment again, so appreciate it.

  17. He sounded like an amazing
    Man and both you and your daughter were very lucky to have had him
    In your life as he was lucky to have both you and your amazing daughter in his life! You are all very inspirational and your blog has made me realise that the silly things in life I argue with my partner about are nothing compared to what you have all been through! RIP nick.

    1. Thank you Janelle, he was an amazing guy and i’m so happy to be able to share his life and the person he was, with so many people. I’m so grateful to have known him and have been with him til his final moments. I’m happy to hear it’s changed your thoughts too, petty arguing is so not worthwhile, when there is love present, we waste so much energy fighting about things that don’t really matter in the long run!
      Michela xx

  18. hey michela
    another great post, and even more tears than ever before. i love reading your post, but I never know what to write. my heart goes out to you, and I feel so sad for you but at the same time i love and admire your calmness and courage in such tough times. you really make everyone think and appreciated what they have, cos you really have lived the “don’t know what you have until its gone”. it was definitely fate that nick found you, he needed such a wonderful, strong person by his side. and I believe too that they know and are in total control of when their time to go is, and he picked it perfectly.
    god bless you, your BEAUTIFUL little girl and your new husband.
    u guys deserve the best.
    xoxoox

    1. Hi Sel,
      Thank you for your beautiful comment, I love hearing from you here!
      Yes, I like to think Nick and I were drawn to one another for a reason all those years ago, and it was probably because we both needed each other to go through this and to learn these life lessons together. I’m a better person for knowing him. Thank you for your thoughts, and for reading along every week! xxxxx

  19. Dear Michela,
    My heart goes out to you. My experience of losing my husband at age 35 is very similar to yours. I had just turned 30. We didn’t have kids.
    I came across your blog by random and the fact your name is similar to his -Michael is also a bit random but that how life works hey?
    I lost Michael 15 years ago and not a day passes without his presence.
    I miss and love him very much.
    I have remarried also and my life is different. I am blessed to have shared my life with him.
    I really thank you for sharing your special moments with Nick on this forum.
    I honour your honesty and courage for doing so.
    God bless you and Claudia
    Bronwyn xxx

    1. Hi Bronwyn, welcome to my site, im so glad you found me and the randomness of it, it’s perfect!
      I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband, Michael, you can understand more than most, how it feels to be a young widow, and though i’ve re-married like you, you never really get over it and definitely never forget. I love being able to share this snapshot of our life together, as like you say, i’m also blessed to have had the life I did with him.
      I hope as my story here continues, you may also be familiar with some of the feelings I had after his passing, id love to hear from you again.
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!
      Michela xx

  20. It certainly makes me remember not to sweat it over the little things. I heard a great message the other morning on the Joyce Meyer show and she was talking about the complaining we tend to do and to remember those who would still love to trade places with us from the big things they are going through. My husband drives me crazy sometimes and when I catch myself about to complain I think to myself how grateful I am to have him in my life and to make the most of everything, because you just never know what the future holds. Big hugs and love, you are a true blessing and I pray that many will get the same from reading your journey. XoX

    1. Hi Rose, thank you for your beautiful msg, you’re exactly right, and I love that thought, that there are people going through much bigger things, would would love to trade places with our seemingly easier lives. We tend to complain about things, that really mean nothing in the long run, i’ve tried to banish these mundane thoughts now and I think i’m happier for it, but of course, we all slip up.
      Big hugs right back to you and your beautiful family, thank you for your prayers xxx

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