I never dreamed the relationship Cid and I had - and how it evolved – would ever be one of the confessions he felt he had to make before receiving the last rites. In a small way I was honoured, but my devastation overshadowed that.
After the priest left we started to arrange for Cid to go home. There was nothing more the hospital could do and we knew it and it was obvious that Cid wanted to be ‘home’ once more.
Just before we left the hospital the nurses showed me how to administer Cid’s nebulizer and to regulate his oxygen. They also let me take home a machine that measured the blood oxygen saturation levels. It attached to his finger and gave a continuous reading. After I had been through my little bit of training, one by one the nurses of the unit came to say good-bye to Cid. We knew it was going to be the last time and again I was impressed with how people reacted to Cid. He was instantly likable – no - lovable – and it was obvious they had been touched by this man while they cared for him.
His uncle had gone to Lethbridge and brought back Cid’s mother, and she waited at his condo while his uncle came to the hospital and ‘took him home’. I knew his uncle wanted to help in some way, and that being the strong masculine person who helped Cid get from the hospital into his condo was what he needed to do. It was awkward being the one on the ‘outside’ of the family – but I felt that I deserved to be alongside Cid as much as they did and I held my place firmly.
Cid walked into his condo building under his own steam while I trailed the oxygen machine along behind him. He looked around the lobby with great interest as we waited for the elevator and you could see his shoulders sag as he entered his own home once more. We had already talked about how hysterical his mother was going to be and he had visibly steeled himself to this meeting while we rode along in the car and his mother had been mentioned. I had reached across into the front seat and given him my hand and he had squeezed it and then held it almost desperately. It’s not that Cid didn’t love his mother - it was quite the opposite. They were extremely close. It was just that his mother was known for being ‘excitable’.
As he stepped through the front door, his mother launched herself at him and threw her arms around his neck and screamed his name. I could see that he wasn’t strong enough to hold her and himself up and I motioned for the uncle to help Cid and take the mother off him. From what I could gather from the Italian that flew around the room, Cid was telling her 'he was okay – he was okay'.
Eventually we had him settled on the couch as comfortably as we could and we tried to get into a routine. The condo was small – a one-bedroom with a living/dining room and a small kitchen. His mother immediately took over the kitchen and began making food. Cid looked around his condo and said “I like what you’ve done with the place Aims” and we both laughed.
That day turned into a small family reunion with his mother cooking and the three of us trying to keep up with the food that came out of the kitchen. Cid kept bringing the conversation back to English so I wouldn’t be left out and his mother would shake her head a bit and frown before carrying on. I kept an eye on the machines and regularly gave Cid his nebulizer and checked his blood oxygen levels. When evening rolled around we got Cid into his bed and I set the alarm for giving him his nebulizer. His uncle took the couch and his mother took an easy chair while I curled up at the foot of Cid’s bed so I wouldn’t have far to go and I could shut off the alarm without waking the others.
I kept the curtains open so I could study and memorize Cid’s face in every light possible and I watched his chest rise and fall - rise and fall. As I listened to the sound of his harsh breathing as it filled the bedroom and floated away in the dark, I admitted to myself how terrified I was. I was afraid he was going to stop breathing right there and then – and I felt scared and alone as I sat in the dark watching his beloved face – and shaking.