After months of chemo, countless drugs, uncontrollable seizures, a medically-induced coma, long, fitful ICU nights, uncomfortable catheters, a gradual loss of all neurological function, feeding tubes, IVs and around-the-clock morphine, Patrick drew his last breath this morning around 4:10am. Early signs of his imminent death had begun to show, and we were told yesterday that it shouldn't be more than 24 hours before he passed from this life into the next. We gathered some of Patrick's dearest friends and our families to his bedside last night, and together shared stories and memories of our relatively short time with one lovely Patrick Alexander Kelly. We passed around pizza and sipped wine in Styrofoam cups, and each said our goodbyes to this dear man. We shared in a simple Anglican liturgy of last rites, and cried many tears over him.
Christine (PK's sister) and I had been sleeping in his hospital room overnight for the past 9 days, and were joined last night by his father, who slept in a recliner next to PK's bedside. It was evident throughout the evening that Patrick's breathing was growing more and more shallow, and his coloring was growing more and more pale. Around 4am, his night nurse came in to give him an extra dose of morphine, to help with any discomfort he might be having, and to help manage his breathing. I could hear her pressing the buttons on his morphine drip machine, and dosed back to sleep, figuring Patrick would rest comfortably for a few more hours. Soon after, Tim noticed his breathing begin to falter and checked to see how he was doing. While Christine and I (the recognized "hardy" sleepers of the family) dozed off in our rickety cots, Tim realized that his only son had just passed away. He awoke me, saying "Julie, I think he just passed..." (not the sweetest words to one's ear!) and I could feel that his face was now cold, his lips were purple, and listened with my new wannabe-a-doctor stethoscope for his absent heart beat.
The love of my life passed on from this life and into the loving, healing arms of God at 4:10am on 1/28/12, just five months after he had been diagnosed with a re-occurrence of brain cancer, just two months after he turned 34, just a week short of our 4 1/2 year anniversary. It's both the saddest day of my life, and a strangely joyful one, as I know he is now finally in no pain. He no longer needs heavy meds to sleep, scans to determine his brain function, catheters to help him pee, or mouth swabs to help him feel hydrated. I like to imagine that he's already regained the fifty pounds he had lost over the past few weeks (and anyone who remembers Patrick's lean frame knows there wasn't 50 pounds to lose!). He looked more like an Auschwitz survivor this morning than the strapping young man with whom I fell in love. I like to imagine that he can again run with strength, dance with ease, and kick his beloved soccer ball around with great agility. I like to imagine he's eating really tasty non-pureed food for the first time since December 1st. I like to imagine that he's meeting my Grandpa Seume, and my Grandma and Grandpa Cate. I like to imagine that he's playing tenderly with our unborn child, and those of our friends who have recently miscarried.
I especially like to imagine that he's cheerfully gone through some sort of Heavenly Orientation Day today, along with the fellow new members of Heaven's Class of 1/28/2012. I can see him raising his hand to request a Medium-sized orientation tee-shirt, and a slim-fitting one at that. I'm sure he asked that multiple photos would be taken for his ID badge, so that he could have his best headshot displayed for his new friends to see.
I'm going to miss that sweet man, as I know many of you will as well. Thank you for following along with me. Thank you for your words of comfort, support and empathy. My goal is to somehow turn this sorrowful story into a real book someday soon, so that Patrick's legacy can live on, (and selfishly so that I can process the pain and memories in a healthy, productive way.) I'll keep you updated as that comes together! :)
For now, I'm trying to catch up on lost sleep, and I look forward to spending focused time on Cecilia once again. We're working out arrangements for his memorial service. As of now, I believe it will be held on Friday, February 3rd at The Falls Church in Falls Church, VA (just outside of DC). Any and all are welcome! I'll send out more details when I have confirmed date/time/details, etc.
Thanks for your ongoing love and faithfulness to us, and to him, during this hard season. Your love and friendship has been SUCH a blessing to me.
With a mixture of love, sorrow and eternal joy,
Julie - the newest widow on the block. :(