Friday, March 27, 2009

Meme stolen from txanne

Use the first letter of your first name and come up with each the following. Don't use your own name for the boy/girl name.

Your name: Ann
Famous Artist/Band/Musician: Aneiki
4 letter word: also
Vehicle: Audi
TV Show: All My Children (sorry I couldn't think of a kewler one)
City: Allentown
Boy Name: Antonio
Girl Name: Andrea
Alcoholic drink: aperitif
Occupation: actuary
Something a woman wears: ankle boots
Celebrity: Alejandro Fernandez
Food: ambrosia
Something found in a kitchen: anise seed
Reason for Being Late: auto accident
Cartoon Character: Aloysius Wolf (actually a character from Childrens Highlights)
Something You Shout: Away with you!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Margret knew the end was coming. She knew it before I did. I suspected, but I didn't want to know. It broke my heart when she said, "Please let me go." I put my head down on her tummy there in the hospital bed and I cried. She patted my back, and said, "Don't cry mommy. I love you."

On Sunday, the doctor stopped after rounds to tell me they would not be changing her treatment any more because she was "end stage". Her sister C who planned to go home Sunday night changed her plans. C arranged for D to come from the other coast. On the first plane she could catch. Because we did not know how much longer Margret had left. C did it because I said I couldn't handle the details. Really? I couldn't. Besides, I didn't want to leave Margret's side.

I called family. I called friends. On my cel phone. From the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. D arrived around 1 am with her 5 week old baby. I held the baby on the bed, and put Margret's hand on the tiny feet. The feet wiggled. She moved her hand off. I said, "Those are the baby's feet. Aren't they tiny?" She put her hand back on the little feet. I talked. She kept her hand on those precious feet. D took the baby and leaned him across Margret's tummy, his Auntie's tummy, and put Margret's hand on his back. She said, "That's the baby you're holding, keep your hand there so he doesn't fall." She talked to her sister, and Margret kept her hand on the baby's back.

The last sister, B, the second oldest, arrived with her family around 2am. She came up and hugged Margret, and talked a bit, but the sedatives and morphine did their work and Margret was finally sleeping. We all went to sleep. Morning came. The nurse taped a picture of a white flower onto the door, where once, before her virus screen came back clear, were directions to mask and gown as a precaution against contagion. Friends arrived, and my husband.

We all tell Margret how much we love her, how wonderful she is. We tell our favorite stories again, one last time. We remember our favorite Margret Quotes. Mine is "I'm only fat around the edges." The doctor comes in, and the chaplain, and the Advanced Care team, and our social worker. They stand in the back.

The nurse gives a dose of morphine so Margret won't feel panic as her carbon dioxide level starts to rise. She turns off the monitor.

The RT and I take the hated ventilator mask off. "No more mask, Margret," I say. She raises both arms straight up, as if to say, "Hallelujah, the mask is off!!"

I take her hand, (the RT has turned off the ventilator, no more tweetling vent alarms), husband puts his hand on her arm next to my hand. She looks at me, looks at him. D starts singing, "I'll Fly Away". Most of the folks in the room join in. I can't. My throat has closed up, and the tears run down my face. I look up to see tears in the chaplain's eyes. I see two sisters holding her other hand. Several hands on her legs belong to the other sister, friends. Letting her know by touch that she is loved, and not alone. Not alone. She breathes slower. The song ends. Voices trail away. Slower. Stops. So peaceful. She looks asleep.

The doctor listens with his stethoscope. Looks at the clock, "time of death... 1:45PM."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Something I've been trying to do

I have been trying for months to write about saying goodbye to Margret. The task has defeated me. Either I start crying and have to leave off writing, or I am not satisfied with what I have written. Or else what I have written seems OK, but I wasn't ready to share what I wrote.

There have been many attempts, many almost successes.

Over time my mantra for Margret's care evolved into "the best quality of life with the least invasive treatments". Because there comes a time where you are no longer doing things FOR a person, but you are doing things TO them. That's what the doctor said when Margret collapsed, and he wanted to know what measures we wanted taken on her behalf.

We all got a reprieve when she sat up and talked to her sisters the following day.

He had put into words my worst fear: that there comes a time when there is no more hope. Hope is gone, and soon to follow are the smiles, the joy, the wicked sense of humor, the courage, the adventurous spirit that said, "I want to see Ricky Martin perform live. I want to go on a cruise."

The hardest part, I think, is facing down the day that my hopes died, and then having to do it all over again. Every attempt to write about it brings that sorrow back full force.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Valentine's Day was Very Sad This Year

This was a very sad Valentine's day. I didn't manage to get the valentines out in the mail as I had planned, it made me cry to work on them, and that bummed me out.

Then I had a series of very strange, very detailed, very confusing dreams that made me feel very sad when I woke up, as if I had read an intense and wandering letter from a half crazy friend and missed the whole point.

I wasn't very good company at times, not even for myself. I indulged in reading therapy; went through several library books. I was torn between not ever wanting to go back to sleep (the dreams! the dreams!) and not ever wanting to wake up again to have to face the real world as it is.

I'm glad it's over for this year, and I'm sure that next year won't be nearly so awful.

It may not be Thanksgiving, but I give thanks for my husband, my daughters and my friends who have been keeping me firmly in the real world even when I would rather be someplace else. Where? Dunno, just 'not here'. I'm here, and here I'm staying, and this is something good.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's a Matter of Perspective

Not long after Margret died, I was talking to a young man of my acquaintance. He said he was sorry for my loss.

Then he thought for a bit, sizing me up, and said I was going to think he was a bad person, but if it were him, he would be rejoicing at being released from the equivalent of a prison sentence.


It's just a matter of perspective.

I don't think he's a bad person, just deprived of the right perspective. All he could see is the down side. Only having met Margret briefly, and on a day when she wasn't feeling up to her usual cheer, he couldn't know the up side.

I knew how loving Margret was, how empathetic. He never had a day with her when she was about four years old as I did. I was sad about something, and she came over and hugged me, and laid her head on my lap. She let me know that whatever was wrong, she was there for me, and loved me. I had not said a word about the wrong thing, I was not crying, she just knew, and wanted to make it right as best she could.

He never knew how strongly she cared about her sisters, and how much they cared about her. Or how loyal she was to her friends.

It's his loss.