October 20, 2021
I’ve remembered a few things that I want to write to you before I forget them! I think about you every day, and I miss you. Sometimes I will do something, or hear something, or a memory of you will just pop up in my mind. Last night, it was the hot tub.
Before bed, I decided to soak in it for a short while. My back was hurting, and I knew the warmth of the water and the force of the jets would give me some relief. As I sat there, I remembered how badly you wanted me to have it fixed during that last couple of months of your earthly time. The heater wasn’t working, and I had ordered a repair. It seemed that was all you could think about – getting it fixed. You wanted to sit in its warmth and relax, and imagined the relief it would bring. I spoke to the hospice nurse about it, and she wanted you to first be assessed by an occupational therapist, since your balance had gotten so bad. With high hopes, you readily agreed to the assessment, even though you hated having people come into the house and “handle” you. The potential of the hot tub overcame whatever resistance you normally had.
Within a few days, the OT arrived. She first wanted to put a gait belt on you so that she could help you if you became too unsteady on your feet. You vehemently refused, saying that your walking was fine. It was obvious that it wasn’t, but her job wasn’t to argue with you, so she deferred to your wish. She followed you closely as you made your way outside to the deck. The hot tub sat empty of water, and the therapist stood by as you made your way up the two steps and climbed in. It was clear even to my untrained eye that you were too unstable to get in and out of it safely. She seemed sad as she delivered the news that you didn’t want to hear, and you responded in anger that you could be safe – if I’d just get it repaired.
The repairman had called me just a couple of days before to tell me the part had arrived, and to schedule an appointment to install it. I called them back the day of your OT assessment to tell them to hold off, and that i’d call them when I was ready to schedule. Pulling myself together, I then told you that the part wasn’t currently available, it was on backorder, and they didn’t know when it would arrive. You angrily insisted that someone, somewhere, must have it, and that I should call around until I could find someone who did. It was a hard conversation. I hated lying to you, especially since I knew how badly you wanted to immerse your poor aching body in the comfort of warm water. (As I write this, it has occurred to me that perhaps it was a subconscious desire to be in a womb-like environment, safely, comfortably cradled in warmth and safety. A fanciful thought.)
For the remainder of your lucid days, you yearned for the hot tub. It was the longest lie I’d ever sustained, and I hated every minute of it. It was something that was in my power to give to you, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t keep you safe if I had it repaired, and your safety was paramount.
I’m so sorry, honey. You couldn’t understand my fear and you didn’t think I understood your yearning, so the lie was necessary. It’s still a painful memory, and one that returns each time I seek the healing power of that warm water. Just know that lying to you was an act of love, not malice.