Months To Years Spring 2018 Months To Years Spring 2018 - Page 35

During treatment, Brien blended emollient oils—including one day. He dashed on wobbly legs, without his walker, sea buckthorn and pomegranate—to heal the radiation to grab car keys, because he needed to “get out of here!” burns on his face and neck. As a fundraiser for the Ireland And we spent sleepless nights when he insisted on sitting trip we bottled his formula and dubbed it Link’s Rad Oil. upright or pacing about—his cancer-addled bones brittle As Brien wrote on the promo, If it can heal skin this dam- enough to break with a fall. aged, imagine what it can do for yours.  After the bike accident on Inisheer, I took homeopathic Arnica for the bruising, and Brien suggested I use his oil blend on the abrasions. “It’s full of antioxidants,” he said, patting some on my scabby chin. “I think it will help you heal.” “If you do that I can’t take care of you at home anymore! I can’t let you fall!”  The last night when he went into a coma—oddly enough—I felt mostly relieved. Not only was I completely exhausted from ongoing worry and sleeplessness, but I feared I was failing as a caregiver. So, I have to admit, when he lost Just four months after we returned from Ireland, Brien end- consciousness, and I could finally lower his head onto the ed up in hospice, at home. After all our forays to cancer pillow, there was a chance to exhale. centers, we were holed up in our house, with snow like we hadn’t seen in years piling up outside.  Brien refused the hospital bed wheeled into the living room, instead camping out on the futon couch that we’d slept on as newlyweds. Down to half of his healthy mid-life weight, Brien’s tailbone began protruding through his skin. It gave me the polar opposite feeling of spotting crocus- es peeking out through the snow. I cajoled, I shamed, I pleaded with him to lie on his side so that the pressure sore could heal—or at least not get worse. He’d given up read- ing the daily newspaper, shut down his laptop and, mostly, he just sat cross-legged—like a sage—on the futon. The responsibility I felt as a “good” caregiver, to keep his skin from breaking down, was pretty much pointless in those final days, but I still struggled with him over it. I couldn’t face that the bedsore would soon be part of a body he left behind. For me. Finally, I could just lie down next to him and feel the weight of my head on his rising and falling chest. By the next morning, the breath was slow—and very, very deep. There was one last inhalation, expanding his chest. And an exhale that seemed to fill the room before spiral- ing out—taking him to the other side.  __________________________________________________________________ Dabbing a drop of Link’s Rad Oil on the scar on my left brow is one of my new nightly rituals. Before turning off the light, and saying, “Goodnight, I love you, Bri.” Before waking in the night and realizing there are no toes under the sheets to entwine with. Before my 3:00 am trudge to the bathroom. Before collapsing back into bed, limp.  __________________________________________________________________ One day I was curled beside him on the futon, as Brien caressed the tender crook of my arm.  “It’s not just me anymore,” he said. “There’s me...and there’s you...and 50,000 monarchs migrating over California.” __________________________________________________________________ Milissa O’Connell Link has been a yoga and meditation teacher for over twenty years. She is the creator of Peace- ful Preschooler, a mindful yoga program for children. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Minneapolis Observer Quarterly and several anthologies. Milissa loves to camp in her VW Westy on the north shore of Lake Superior with -It wasn’t all peace and love in the end though. He be- her dogs, Finbarr and Moksha. When other campers ask if lieved the mob had stolen his stash of medical marijuana she does “van life” full-time, she responds, “Don’t give me and he went rifling through the closet looking for a gun any ideas!” 35