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Posts tagged ‘dying’

Where will you go?

I closed my eyes……

I took a long walk up a path. To my right was a forest with depth and darkness of trees, hiding secrets, lining my way.  To my left was the greenest of valleys.  The hills rolled across the planes with velvety greenery, providing a space of vastness expanding as far as the eye could see, meeting up with the darkness of the sky, fading into one.

As I walked, the path lost it’s roots and larger stones and became sandy and full of gravel.  The path became arid and dry.  At the end of the path towards the top of the mountain was a cave.  There at the cave entrance was a fire dancing, inviting me to join.  I sat in close proximity to the flames towards the opening of the cave.  The fire never burned nor did the smoke blind my vision.  Past the dance of the flames, he was there.  His face weathered from the sun, changing from masculine to feminine.  It was his face I saw first and then she was there, and then changing back.

I asked, “What is it I need to do?”

He looked at me with eyes as deep as the ocean and knowledge as vast as time.  I heard him but without language.  There before me the sky appeared bright, as if a million stars of a million ancestors were answering for him.  It was then I learned that it was them, the ancestors that were the answer.  Never to lose sight of them.  Thoughts came to be of Sophie and then thoughts of Cary’s family.  Those long gone and those gone for no so long.  It was for the connection not to be lost.  To continue to honor those passed on and hold their souls close to my heart.  Teach my child of those connections and provide her with a base of wisdom.

He then gave me a gift.  It was a peace pipe.  I became the peace pipe and could then see all the beauty that I hide.  I thought of the animals of where the leather came from, whose hands crafted such a significant and beautiful piece.  I quickly gave a moment of thanks.  I returned to hold the peace pipe.  I could feel the strength, the steadiness for which I longed.  The pipe was the masculine I had been searching for.  It’s strength and beauty mesmerized me.

I was sad to go.  I wanted to stay………  but it was time to come back.

Those journeys aren’t so far off, whether here or there or just up the hill.

Where will you go?


Little Girl Lost, Part 2

It’s unbelievable that time has gone by in what seems so fast.   March 23rd, 2004 was the most heart wrenching moment I would have to ever face, so I thought.  That was the day my mom died.  There are moments in life when it seems like it was just a few days ago and at times it seems like a lifetime ago.  I miss her incredibly and at times I’m not even sure what that means.   But, today… really sucked.  For the past seven years on this day, I would go sit next to my dad and he would give me a hug.  He didn’t care if I cried.  So, today it’s really him that I am missing.

I get a little confused in my head sometimes when I remember the moment of my grandmother’s death and how my mom told me, as I watched her cry, that one day I would understand when she was gone how much harder it was to lose your mom.  I think maybe she wasn’t as lucky to have such an awesome dad like I did. I don’t know since he died the week before I turned one.  Then of course there are the family stories and if any of that is true, I definitely got the better parent!

It’s also hard because I’ve fought back and forth between the sadness and the peace.  I miss my dad so incredibly much that my heart breaks just like it did when she died.  I sometimes would feel guilty after he died with all of the “what-ifs.”

December 9th, 2016……I stood in the hallway as they rolled my dad back for surgery.  I couldn’t even look at him.  After sitting in the same waiting room as I had the day before, I recall being quite irritated with the priest from his church but let him say the prayer for my dad anyway.  I didn’t understand why he couldn’t stay and was not in a place to argue that he should stay and my dad would be out of surgery soon.  Didn’t he get what I had just been through?  Thank goodness Jen was there to help deal with him or I might have punched that priest.

After the surgery, we followed him back down the long hallway to the next building.  It was there that I couldn’t go to him, as they wheeled him into that room.  Finally, I stood there long enough for the doctor to say something.  I then went in and all I could say was “I’m sorry.”  I cried.  I cried because how could I do this to him? How could I cause him pain? This isn’t what we discussed.  This wasn’t what was written on the DNR paperwork.  This wasn’t how it was suppose to happen.  But then yet it was…….

There was no way I could go with losing another parent and not having them tell me they love me.  I understand my mom was in so much pain.  I knew dad was in pain.  I was so sorry they pounded on his chest and shocked him back to life.  And now, now he had a tube down his throat to breathe for him.  I looked in his eyes and asked if he knew how much I loved him.  He nodded yes.  He held my hand and squeezed it.  I looked at him with such sadness looking back at me.  I was so sorry.  I didn’t know what to say or what to do.  I worked really hard to keep coming to see him over the next two days as much as I could.

Monday, I got word that he had been extubated.  I didn’t know he was going to be on the full face mask but he was.  He tried to talk to me a little.  I still hadn’t heard what I needed to hear.  He encouraged me to go to work and to go home the last two days so I could be with Alice.  I stayed with him a while and held his hand.  After I left, it was only a couple of hours later, I got a call…… Med City said the caller ID.  My heart sank.

The doctor told me not to drive myself.  I ran through the house getting dressed and out the door to the neighbors to have them watch Alice.  I couldn’t yell any more than I did at Cary to drive faster.  Once there, I jumped from the car and ran, ran like dad couldn’t run, yelling “Oh my God” the whole way to the 4th floor and through the waiting room, past a blur of other families standing there……  For the next 15 hours I sat next to his bed.

When I first ran into his room, he looked at me with such intensity in his eyes and told me, “My time is short.”  Over the next couple of hours I sat watching him.  I would try to lie down in the waiting room for a little bit off and on but just got back up and went next to his bed.  At one point, he was swirling his finger around and said, “light.”  I asked him over and over during this time if my mom was there.  He would shake his head no.  He did the same when I asked if grandma or grandpa was there.  It was when I asked him if Jesus was there that he shook his head yes.  I felt such relief and peace with knowing this.  It wasn’t until later that I realized in talking with someone I trust with all my heart that yes my mom was there….. she was part of the light.

It was early morning and another wonderful soul who is like a mother to me showed up to be with me.  She stayed right by my side until his last breath.  I don’t know how she knew I needed her but I did and she was there.

In all of what seemed to be the chaos of those last moments, I would say have no regrets.  But I did for a moment.  I left him lying in that room when it was over with his mouth open and for whatever reason that bothered me.  Maybe because it was a reminder that he had lost a tooth and we had not taken the time nor spent the money to have his other teeth pulled.  But, he had been so stubborn and I wasn’t really sure knowing with his medical history he would have made it through the surgery.  Hadn’t I been taking care of the other doctor appointments?  I had tried.  Maybe I felt guilty that we didn’t go the cardiologist sooner than we had.  Maybe the shame of feeling like I didn’t do enough to take care of him after I had promised my mom I would.  I don’t know.  It was all so overwhelming at times.  But, I know that I could only stand there and hold his hand….this man who held me as a baby, carried me when I was little, taught me about life, took care of me, and loved me unconditionally……. was gone.  Just like that… more heartbeat no more breathing no more moments no more……..

It took many hours that morning, days later and even weeks later to realize that I did everything I was suppose to do.  I let him have his dignity.  I let him make the choice to stop the medicine pumping his heart and let him choose to stop the oxygen mask.  And that, as his daughter, was all I could do.  I’m still sorry for any pain I caused…..that will take some time to heal.

But, after his mask came off, I heard it.  I heard him say, “I love you too.”  And that was what I needed.  As selfish as it may have been, I needed that.

I miss him…… a lot.

Lost Little Girl, Part 1

It started the weekend of Thanksgiving.  We had a great meal at our favorite buffet at the Four Seasons.  Of course the day started out as many holidays had with Dad saying he didn’t feel good.  I told him he would be ok and we would go and have a nice time.  And truly we did.

Over the next couple of days we started to get ready for a frost that was coming and I wanted to get the hoses put away and the pipes outside covered.  I was putting the plastic over the hose and asked Dad, who was watching over me I’m sure to make sure I did it right, if I just needed to put bricks along the bucket so the wind wouldn’t blow it.  He starts taking off to get the bricks and I tell him to wait I will do it.  But there he goes…..Mr. Stubborn.  The next thing I know my husband said there were bricks flying over the fence.  I walked back to the side of the house to look in the window and see Dad running towards his room.  I instantly dropped everything.  I knew something was wrong and I believe those were the only words to come out of my as I stood in the driveway, dropping everything to run inside as fast as  I could. I found Dad sitting in the chair unable to catch his breath.  I asked if I needed to call 911 and of course he said no.  I sat in distress, frozen….I’m just a kid what the hell am I suppose to do.  Mom had left me with the task of taking care of him…and I’m trying.  I’M 45 YEARS OLD AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL TO DO!  Then he says it….words I never hoped to hear from him…. “I’m in so much pain I just want to die.”  There it was……out there.   My heart shattered.  I couldn’t believe it.  Not again……..  I had already heard this three other times in life where it hurt so bad I couldn’t catch my breath…… first was my Mom, then my great aunt (a week before my daughter was born), and then my aunt.

I made sure to talk to my uncle that next day when he called and told him everything.  I called him again the next morning and promptly hung up to call the cardiologist.  He went in on Wednesday for a stress test.  Thursday, he had a stent placed.  Everyone said it was no big deal.  I guess I really thought that too and that he would be as good as new, just like when he had the pacemaker put in, and he would be fine.  Friday came and I went to pick him up at the hospital. He was having difficulty breathing again and I asked the nurses. They were quite conservative with wanting to check him out completely before discharging him, asking me if I was in a hurry.  I was not and reminded Dad that we needed to be patient until we were told it was ok to leave.  The cardiologist even came to check on him and then let us go.

It was early December, the 9th to be exact the first time he died.  We were sitting in the living room.  He didn’t even want to sit with us at the dinner table to eat.  I checked on him and all seemed well.  Then Alice and I started to watch a movie, Elf.  I noticed that he was starting to have a little bit of difficulty with breathing.  I sent her to bed and went in to check on him.  I even moved his furniture like he asked.  He told me it was too hard to breathe when he laid down and he wanted to sit up.  I started to panic again.  But, I did whatever he wanted.  I was trying to do my best.  Then the difficulty breathing began.  I already told him we had to go to the ER.  He said in short breaths, “I’ll be ok”….yeah right! (in the words of my fat Aunt Mary).  I called the cardiologist on call.  He said get him to the emergency room now.  I jokingly said, “if I can.”  He was having difficulty getting up and then once in the bathroom became violently ill.  Cary helped dad get dressed, as I called 911.  Cary got the medications.  The ambulance showed up, of course to the wrong house because no numbers on this street are in order….so Cary ran in his pajamas to get the ambulance.  By the time, they got in the house, he was in the bathroom again and they gave him a moment.  Once he came out, he asked to sit and they were in a hurry.  Cary gave the medication and I did as I was told to grab the rolling walker chair.  I did not grab the DNR papers off the fridge….this was never intentional.  The chaos of the moment, the EMTs were in my face telling me to calm down and not to follow the ambulance over and over and telling Cary the same.  I got to the end of the street and they turned left….why in the hell would they do that.  The hospital was to the right and they were stopped.  I called Cary panicked.  I didn’t know what was happening.  Somewhere in the mess I called Jen.  She was coming.  She was going to help me……….somehow

I beat the ambulance to the hospital…how could this be? They had passed me on the street.  I ran in 30 degree weather through two parking lots and the ambulance bay.  No ambulance.  I ran inside and they couldn’t help because obviously Dad wasn’t there.  I called Cary panicked.  Did they take him somewhere else? What were they doing?  He told me no they wouldn’t take him somewhere else.  He told me to wait inside.  I told him no I needed to wait for my Dad.  I finally saw them pull up and raced back in.  They made me stand there for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally…..the little orange sticker that gave me a pass.

I ran…….I ran down that hallway.  I got there and I dropped to the floor.  There were nurses on him performing CPR.  All I could say was “no” over and over.  This wasn’t how it was suppose to be.  Security….not helpful.  They left me there…on the floor.  I looked at them pleading hoping they would pick me up.  No, it was an x-ray tech.  He picked me up, got me a chair, and called Cary.  I just needed to hold on to someone.  They were waiting too…..obviously the x-ray could wait.  Dad needed to come back.  I heard a nurse in the room say something about his daughter.  YES!  YES I AM RIGHT FUCKING HERE!!!! PLEASE HELP ME.  I DON’T WANT TO LOSE MY DAD.  A nurse came by (don’t know her name but I could pick her out of a group of people if I had to) and hugged me.  I didn’t want to let her go.

The doctor finally came out.  I was devastated as I told him that my dad would not want to live like this.  He told me that my dad had been down for 15 minutes with no pulse.  I think by now Jen was by my side but I can’t be sure.  She confirmed there were tubes everywhere.  I didn’t know what to do.  And, then the doctor asked, “Do you want me to stop everything.”  Again, just like the paperwork it was never intentional but my reply was “I don’t know.”  If he did then that was it over….the end…..I would be without any parents.

I think somewhere in there I called my boss.  I know I called my uncle.  I kept calling him even though it was late.  The doctor walked away for a moment to check on something.    He came back to me and another nurse walked by and whispered, “He has a pulse.”  The next thing I know another nurse walks in the room to say, “He’s sitting up.” That’s my Dad!! The fighter, the most stubborn individual I know……..

The cardiologist I spoke with earlier showed up.  Him and the CCU doctor were amazing. They held my hand.  They answered my questions.  They reassured me that it was ok that I had not “pulled the plug” on him.  They said they wanted to try and do everything for him. I agreed.

I stood there frozen as they pulled his bed out of the room to take him back to the cath lab to check on the stent placed the day before……. I couldn’t even look at him and for that I was ashamed that I had let him endure this.  This wasn’t the plan.  I had hounded him to have the paperwork signed so I could make decisions like this.  I really thought I could do it with a clear head.  HELL NO.  THERE’S NO FUCKING BOOK IN LIFE THAT SAYS YOU WILL BE ABLE TO STAY STRONG WHEN YOU ARE FACE TO FACE WITH THE DEATH OF YOUR PARENTS.

Sounds, sounds, sounds……

It’s funny how a sound can induce all kinds of emotions. It seems these “sounds” have been a lot louder lately. I’ve been on a little journey lately that has taken me to some interesting spaces. I first encountered this a few weeks ago when dad’s friend past away. I swear for about a week afterwards I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that some of his presence was all around…not even him as a whole person. I don’t know if this had to do with the suicide or where he was on his spiritual journey when he died. I do know that I am beyond thankful for the prayer circle I had with Dr. Rachael to help send him on his way. And, yes he has not been back to bother me lately. But, I did open some door. Not sure to where. I know during our prayer, I left for a bit into a tunnel that felt like a tunnel of light running parallel to this world. This door opened a path for others. Here come the sounds. Something I am not used to at all. I can handle seeing. I don’t want to be touched. Sounds are new for me and I have to say I was startled. The only person that has spoken to me is my mom but not since the night she died. It was not threatening or seemed harmful with it’s deep “hello.” But, I pulled out the prayer and said it again (a few times just to make sure) and have been sound free ever since.

Then there’s a time you wish you could hear certain sounds……

Yesterday was 10 years that my mom has been gone. I miss hearing her voice and her laugh. I know every once in a while I hear it whispered in my ear, as if the wind is blowing her spirit by me quickly just to have that moment of peace. I know for certain that she was around yesterday. It seems the “spirit voices” have been making themselves known in new ways. However, yesterday there was something very familiar with the sound that gently sang out from the speakers in the large room. All of a sudden sitting at lunch, I hear the quiet deep voice of Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I knew it was my mom’s little way of saying, “Hey, I’m still here with you, especially today.” I knew instantly she was around. It was funny that I thought to myself how she didn’t have a TV to turn on for me like she’s done before. The room grew colder and there was a sense of peace. I know this is her way. She loves Judy Garland and I hope that she has had many opportunity to sing and dance with her. I am so blessed that she has graced me with her presence more than a few times these past 10 years. I hope that I will always continue to feel her when I need her.