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Marianne Kupina spends time with her husband, Andrew McCarthy, a resident at Kensington Hospice. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Marianne Kupina spends time with her husband, Andrew McCarthy, a resident at Kensington Hospice. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

The long farewell: a wife's journal Add to ...

Feb. 9, 2012

Not a good evening for Andrew. So much so that I decided to sleep over. But I didn't get much sleep as he awoke at 1 a.m. and wanted water almost every half-hour.

Feb. 10

The nonagenarian gentleman next door died today. It was a bit sad as his birthday was in a few days. Andrew is still not doing that well, so I’ll be sleeping over again tonight. But I’ll bring our cat, Marlowe, over for the weekend as her visits always perk him up.

Feb. 11

A really good day today – a nice change of pace from the past few days. My friend Trish visited and shared some stories of her son, Michael, which got Andrew laughing. I hope it continues through until tomorrow, as the Globe and Mail reporter and photographer will be back tomorrow for my sister’s visit with her clan. I always worry about the visits from the kids, as I want them to remember their uncle in a positive way. Matthew, who is 12, is very sensitive to even the most subtle of changes and is always very concerned. But they’re so good with him and have been these many months.

Feb. 12

Woke up early and drove over to Pusateri’s to get Andrew his favourite breakfast: eggs Benedict and the mascarpone-stuffed French toast. Although his appetite has been quite diminished for some time, he ate all of it which made me exceptionally happy. It’s funny how the simplest things will lift your spirits when you’re going through something like this. He did really well during the visit with the Globe and Mail folks (even had a small sip of Jameson), and the kids, but we had real difficulty getting him to swallow his night meds. Didn’t leave the hospice until 11 p.m.

Feb. 13

I got the call that I’ve been dreading for almost six months. Nadine (Dr. Gebara) called around 10 a.m. to say that Andrew’s condition had changed again. I quickly threw some clothes into an overnight bag and rushed over to the hospice. Andrew was sleeping when I got there but woke up shortly thereafter, was agitated and then had great difficulty falling asleep again. The nurse who had successfully roused Andrew from his unresponsive state that morning said she was never so happy to have a patient swear at her. One of the few times I laughed that week.

Feb. 14

Andrew finally fell asleep around 9 a.m. after being up for almost 24 hours. My twin sister, Annie, and her family were here with us for Valentine’s Day. They came with the loveliest of Valentine’s cards for us, and all held their uncle’s hands for some time. That night, he asked for his brother Jeff and best friend Bill. Annie stayed overnight and we took turns watching over Andrew and feeding him ice chips, as he could no longer take liquids. It broke my heart when he told me he didn’t have the strength to swallow anymore.

Feb. 15

Jeff came today, which was a great comfort to Andrew. Bill was in Florida, so he sent the most beautiful note via e-mail this morning and asked me to relay it to Andrew. It took all the strength I had to read it to him.

Another long, tiring day. Andrew was really fighting sleep. We can’t seem to reassure him. His strength and will to live (despite saying repeatedly that he was ready to die) is really astounding. My friend Lorraine came to spell Annie off for the evening so that she could go home for a few hours and organize Cuckoo Corner (as Andrew so lovingly called my sister’s household).

Feb. 16

At 3 a.m., I texted Father Glenn McDonald and asked if he could come by today to reassure Andrew. While Andrew said repeatedly this week that he was ready to die, he still seems afraid about what lies beyond. Father Glenn came later that afternoon, spoke and sang to him and was able to get him relaxed enough to sleep until about 9:30 p.m. I had left and was just outside the room to talk to Roger (Dr. Ghoche) about increasing his pain meds and changing his sedatives so that he would be more peaceful – what we had been using thus far just wasn’t working very well – so I hadn’t been privy to their conversation. Father Glenn let me know that he’d told Andrew that all the love I had for him, all the love of his family and friends was waiting for him on the other side and that it would be so beautiful. Spilled more than a few tears over that.

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