It is with a heavy heart that I make this blog post. Bill Higginson passed away today. I received the following email from Penny Harter a short while ago:
Bill had been in the ICU since Monday early morning, and he was weakening some each day. And sadly, just after we were making plans today for Bill to go to hospice care within the hospital (his decision), his heart went crazy, suddenly beating up in the high 190s / 200s, he glazed over, his rapid labored breathing slowed dramatically to the last few breaths, and his heart beat on, slowing down, for about ten minutes until he died peacefully at 3:45 p.m. today. His daughter Beth and I were holding his hands and singing Amazing Grace to him.
He'd awakened early this morning saying he was "composed" and ready to stop fighting, then asked the nurses to call to tell Beth and me he wanted to speak to us. We came in early and though his voice was sometimes labored, we had an animated conversation much of the morning. He made it clear he wanted a straight DNR after all (no intubation, etc.), and then we talked about how he wanted to be remembered (memorial celebrations at Tenri in NYC and here in NJ in the spring), as well as personal things. And then I guess he was ready and just let go.
He knew we agreed with his decision, and though Beth and I cried, we affirmed that decision and said that though we'd miss him terribly, it was time. He'd been through enough. He will be cremated, and the only service anytime soon will be a family graveside ceremony in about two weeks or so. I have Beth with me and family coming tomorrow. I'll be going down to my daughter Nancy's for about a week to recover a bit from the strain of recent weeks, leaving on Tuesday or so. Then I'll start dealing with things here.
Bill and I both have been most grateful for all the cards and e-mails of support we've received over the past weeks. Bless you all! I won't be checking e-mail much while at my daughter's, but may do so once in a while. I'm not ready for engaging in much personal correspondence yet.
On a personal note, I'm honored to have met Bill at Haiku North America 2007. He and Penny have inspired and nurtured me through their poems and many books. (Practically every serious haiku poet has a copy of the The Haiku Handbook, right?) We have lost a friend and pioneer in English language haiku and Japanese poetic forms. Please join me in expressing our sincere condolences to Penny, family, and friends of William J. Higginson.
Due to this very sad news, the weekly Haiku - Three Questions post will be postponed until next week.