Blood pressure dropping. Blood pressure drops some more. The nurse delivers her tidings every hour. We murmur. We watch. We wait. Lunch. Snacks. Coffee. Conversation. Silent sitting. Phone calls.
Dan's friend Will drives down from Berkeley for the second visit in 4 (or is it 3?) days. Dan's friend Russ arrives, and Will and Russ begin to make music, sitting next to Dan's bed.
Do you want to climb in with him? the nurse asks, nodding toward the bed. Of course, I do, I say, but I can't figure out how I'm going to fit myself in with the five pillows propping him up. And there's the oxygen line, the tube from the catheter. It looks impossible. Instead, I help the nurse with the cool washcloths we are placing on Dan to relieve his fever. Let me know when you think I should crawl in with him, I say. How about now? she asks. I'm still doubtful. I'll help you, she says, lowering the bedrail and then pulling it back up again to support my back.
The songs Russ and Will are playing are Dan's favorites. Wow, I tell them, I never thought I'd find myself in bed with my boyfriend with live music in the room. Best girlfriend ever, Dusty says.
I begin whispering my "litany of bests" in Dan's ear. I've told him some of these things already, but I begin again, telling him everything I can think of. Best first date, best kisser, best friend, best guy in the kitchen, best massager.... Dan's breaths are shallow, as they have been for days. I watch the rise and fall of his chest. And then there is no rise. I call out for Dusty who is just a few feet away on the couch, and she sets her fingers against his neck where there is still a pulse. The rest of the family is at the bedside now and everyone lays their hands on him. The pulse stops too. He sighs a final sigh, and he's gone.
The nurse pronounces him dead. It's 4:04 p.m.