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  • Writer's pictureKatie Beucus

Dove Soap

Aaron died at 1:54 AM. When we left the surgeon on Valentine’s Day 2022 I promised I would be by his side no matter what was ahead of us and in the immediate aftermath of his death I found it hard to leave his side, even knowing his spirit was gone. I spent roughly an hour with his body while my brother and I waited for hospice to come call the death officially.  My brother made the call to hospice and to the science center, coordinating the retrieval of Aaron’s body and ensuring all the final t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted.  I bathed and dressed Aaron and tucked him in one last time. We sat together at the kitchen island, my brother and I, and emptied bottle after bottle of medication, filling two gallon zip lock bags of the various medications I had been administering to Aaron for the last year and then mixing the pills with dawn soap and hot water to destroy them.  Pretty sure I made some smart ass Walter White joke because the two of us are anything but mature under pressure together. I think we slept about 30 minutes on the couch before my brother was up again, calling various Chiefs on the district and coordinating the escort for Aaron’s body.  I lost my husband, and he lost his best friend.  I always said of anyone who could relate to my experience and emotions and what it was like to walk this with Aaron, it was my brother.  He was there until the very end too, a bond the three of us will share forever.  A shitty one (figuratively and literally), but one nonetheless.

Hospice told us not to watch Aaron’s body be removed from the house. To put it delicately, it is not a gentle process, you can gather that simply by listening, and it is not the last memory anyone wants of their loved one. Because the kids were still asleep my brother and I had to divide and conquer.  My brother took up post in Evan’s room and I in Haddie’s, ensuring they did not wake to their dad leaving home for the final time.  Evan woke just as the van doors were closing, but he already knew before his little feet made it to the front door. I had to wake Haddie and explain Dad had gone to Heaven and his body was now going to help doctors and scientists heal other people like him. I'll never forget her sleepy voice whispering "but I wanted daddy to be one of those people." Each child got to say goodbye through the glass of the van.  Formal goodbyes had taken place the night before.

I think we got home from escorting Aaron’s body around 11:00 or 11:30. Members of his family had already begun to congregate at our home. I felt overwhelmed and delirious from the lack of sleep and shock, still wearing a pair of oversized jeans I had thrown on and one of Aaron’s old t-shirts. My sister-in-law had come to join my brother and I, and together they emptied our room and bathroom of all the medical equipment I had used to care for Aaron: catheters and diapers and alcohol prep pads and wipes and surgical bandages and bed mats and on and on. And then I went to shower and I remember handing my sister-in-law a bar of Dove soap and telling her I didn’t think I’d ever be able to wash with it again. 

Dove was the only soap that didn’t aggravate Aaron’s eczema. I spent months delicately cleansing his body with this soap, gently maneuvering around surgical sites and drains and his port and various IV lines. The powdery scent etched in my memory. I always got his armpits way too soapy and he gave me shit for it every single time!

As it turns out, after trying other various soaps for myself, Dove is the only one that agrees with my skin too.  And so last night I opened a box for the first time in six months, inhaled the scent and proceeded to shower and over soap my own armpits just because.

I see who has carried me, who continues to carry me and how I’ve grown to stand on my own two feet again. Each grief journey is unique to the circumstance and the individual, something I never thought about before, but understand all too well now. I am here, doing things I never thought I would or could do nearly every day. And I am proud of myself because while for most it is just soap, I know the work I’ve put in to get here and I know how hard the road has been.

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