"I thought I would try to describe Roxy’s last few days in a way that might help everybody cope a bit.
I drove up to Palo Alto a week ago to spend time with Roxy through Thanksgiving and got to be with her almost every minute of every day for her last week. She had been having trouble with school and was suffering through depression. After a few days with her I learned more than I had ever known what true depression is. She was incapable of leaving the house or accomplishing any task without breaking down in tears. She was embarrassed about her predicament and didn’t want to reach out to many people for help. She also couldn’t understand that anybody else would care or want to help. She had ceased going to classes and studying. She had a comfort zone on the couch of my parents living room, curled up in a blanket with our recently acquired cat Lucy sleeping on top of her. She would play Animal Crossing on her pink (of course) Nintendo 3DS all day and tell me about things she was doing in the game that made no sense to me but delighted me.
She had switched to a new antidepressant drug called Effexor a few weeks ago and was on a regimen where they gradually increase the dosage up to the necessary level to combat the ailment. She was optimistic that this was going to make her better. It was perhaps, other than my presence, the only thing in her life giving her hope for the future. The drug is known to have serious side effects so she was being monitored. Her blood pressure was consistently measuring to be too high and her doctor was concerned. The discussion was had that if they couldn’t bring her blood pressure down, they would have to take her off the drug. That conversation happened at the beginning of the week when I arrived, and brought about Roxy’s devastating fear that the only thing that might help her might be taken away. She went to another doctor for examination, they said they didn’t see any underlying conditions and prescribed her a blood pressure medication to take in conjunction with the Effexor.
I went to an appointment with Roxy and her therapist and saw the process they go through. Roxy was checking her blood pressure daily and once she was on the blood pressure medication it had dropped to a relatively safe level. Roxy was becoming happy about this.
On Friday, I was able to convince Roxy to come out and head up to Oakland to meet with some friends to see a movie. She was nervous about having to be social for an entire evening but she agreed with me that perhaps facing that fear a bit might start to make her better. She had a good time, though afterward told me that she had to excuse herself to be alone for a period of time. We saw Dallas Buyers Club, a movie she thought was excellent but made her cry afterwards. She said she related strongly to the characters plight to try to find medication for a mysterious disease and once finding medication that worked, having that taken away from them.
Saturday was her last day on earth. It also happened to be a day that I saw a happier Roxy than I had seen in months. We woke up and I made her favorite breakfast - what we jokingly liked to call by its obvious moniker, “eggs in a toast.” We decided to head out on one of our new favorite hobbies, going to estate sales. We went to several. She bought a little purse at a garage sale. Then we went to a fancy house in Millbrae where she found a huge gorgeous mink coat that fit her really well. It was $400. She gave me a look like she really wanted it, and I gave her a teasing nod back like “no way.” She made a lap through the house then came back to the coat at which point a woman had claimed it as her own. Roxy was surprisingly upset about it but I assured her there would always be another mink coat to find. We went to one more estate sale and lo and behold, there was another mink coat, this one much cheaper, and actually a little more - if I can say this - reasonable. She bought it and was absolutely thrilled to get to wear something so over-the-top glamorous on our upcoming trip to New York for the holidays.
After that we went and got a sandwich to share, then we went to the Hillsdale mall to check out the new Uniqlo because Roxy needed to buy new underwear. We had the kind of silly fun we always had a malls. As I write this I’m wearing the purple plaid flannel Roxy picked out for me. she bought underwear with the word “Epic” written across the butt.
We got back to the car and both felt a bit tired. We had dinner plans with some friends Roxy had made recently who she really wanted me to meet, but that was a few hours away. Roxy was comfortable staying out until we were ready to go up to the city and that really surprised both of us. I napped in the car a bit and she played Animal Crossing. We just stayed in the car for an hour and a half. Mirroring the sort of query I was used to hearing from her, I asked “is it okay if we just stay here in the car for a bit?” and she said yes, and said that that was why we were meant to be together - that we could just do nothing together and be happy.
We drove up to meet her friends and they were wonderful people to meet. We joined them at their home and then drove in to San Francisco to have dinner at a modern barbecue restaurant called Wexler. Roxy and I had seen the restaurant featured on a local PBS show called Check Please Bay Area - a show she would watch in college and laugh at. We had a wonderful meal. Roxy had the crab because she’d been really excited about crab lately. We went back to her friend’s place and chatted for a few hours, finally departing around midnight.
On the drive home Roxy was delighted with our day. She said it was the best she’d felt in a really long time. She was glad that I liked her new friends and said that they were the kind of people she wanted to have in her life and looked forward to moving to LA with me to make more of those kinds of friends. We got home and stared up at the stars in the cold night air for a moment.
We got in to bed and Roxy complained that she had a bit of a stomach ache. She wasn’t particularly bothered by it, just presumed it was a bit of indigestion. I asked where and placed my hand on her bare belly as she lay on her back. She said up higher, and it was a spot just below her ribs I rubbed the area and asked if that made it feel better. She said yes. I caressed the rest of her belly and her last words to me where “I love it when you touch my belly. I really love my belly. Even though society tells me I shouldn’t, I love it.”
At some point, perhaps an hour later, she got up to go to the bathroom while I was mostly asleep. I found her there a few hours later and she had passed away. We’re awaiting the coroner’s report but at this point generally presume it was heart failure brought on by her medications.
Roxy was fighting hard to get through a rough patch to get to have the life she wanted to have and in her last day on earth, she was winning the fight.”