On Mother’s Day

The bedroom window is open. I can hear the birds chirping and the curtains are billowing from the breeze on this warm Sunday afternoon. I’m trying to read but I find myself distracted and I finally give in and put my book down to breathe in the fresh air and fully enjoy the memories of a lazy summer afternoon at my Grandma T’s.
I pick a book from the dozens on the shelves in the back bedroom and lay down on the handmade quilt. The house is quiet except for the sounds coming through the open window. Birds chirping, wind blowing through the trees, the smell of flowers and fresh cut grass. I read for a while before falling asleep.
I wake up to the smell of coffee and the sound of my Mom and Grandma talking in the kitchen with the radio quietly playing in the background. I lay there for awhile breathing in the peace.
And now, on Mother’s Day as I sit in my backyard with my daughter planting flowers and my son playing in the sand I wipe tears of gratitude.

Two Sides of a Coin

I met a guy a from Vietnam a few weeks ago. His family moved to Winnipeg as refugees at some point in his childhood and he got into trouble with gangs in his teenage years and ended up in trouble with the law. As we made small talk I said that I am married to a man from Laos, a neighboring country to Vietnam. He perked up and was quite surprised. He asked me the usual questions, how did you meet, how long have you been together etc. And then he asked me if Pasith had ever been in trouble. I was taken aback by the question and said, “No.” And began to tell him how Pasith made it through school. I told him that there had always been a lot of bullies and descrimination throughout school. Pasith had always felt that he had to prove himself. Pasith had started lifting weights in grade 10 and that had prevented a lot of the issues in highschool. But Pasith had always felt that he had to prove that he could handle himself. He had backed down from a lot of fights because he didn’t believe in fighting but he had to be sure that he could defend himself. I told him how Pasith’s Dad had taught him how to fight. Pasith’s name means “fighter” in Laos. It has always been in his nature whether he was standing up for himself or someone else that was being bullied. I also told him that Pasith has always had a temper but he knew where to draw the line. He knew he had the potential to really hurt someone but knew that it wouldn’t be worth the dissapointment of his parents along with the fact that he didn’t want to hurt other people.

This guy asked me how Pasith was able to make it out. I said that we were in a small town. We didn’t grow up in the city. He looked at me in complete seriousness and said, “That small town saved his life. Be sure to tell him how lucky he is.” I told him that Pasith hadn’t always felt lucky to be in a small town. He had felt like he was missing out on opportunities. But his parents felt it was better for the boys to be in a small town. Pasith had always begrudged the fact that they didn’t live in the city. This guy shook his head and said, “He was very fortunate to have parents that cared to live in the small town. The city is trouble. He sounds a lot like me and I don’t think he would’ve gotten out so easy.”

Then he asked me how long we had been married and how many children we have. The look of longing on his face was painful. I could see all the regrets and the what-ifs going through his mind as he listened to me. He expressed how much he wished he could have our life. And again said to tell Pasith how lucky he was.

So I went home and told Pasith about who I had met and what he had said. He looked at me, thought about it and said, “He’s probably right. I would be a very different person if I had grown up in the city with the pressure of gangs and anger. I guess my parents knew what they were doing and I’m thankful. But I still hated it.”

It’s amazing to see how close we come to the other side. There is such a fine line, one decision, one person saying one thing between who we are and the potential for either good or bad choices.

Confusion, Depression and Anger

Over the next few days Mom was very confused off and on.  The St B hospital is a catholic hospital so every room has a crucifix.  One day when Mom was confused she pointed at the crucifix and told us that as long as she saw the crucifix she knew where she was.  I was glad that she had found a point of reference but it was sad to know that she had to.  And after that I would catch her looking up at the crucifix every so often.  A day or two after she arrived at St B the same nurse that had been there the night Mom was admitted came in to see her.  She was so relieved to see that Mom was improving.  The nurse said that when she heard that Carole Pearce was coming up to be admitted she had said, “Oh no, not Carole.”  She had been so upset that Mom was back and then when she saw her that night she hadn’t thought Mom was going to make it.  She had been so worried.  It was comforting to have these incredible nurses that truly cared for Mom.

Mom had some more ups and downs over the next couple of weeks.  Her hemoglobin dropped enough to have a blood transfusion and after having continued issues with food and keeping it down she ended up on what we affectionately called “pudding”.   “Pudding” is a bag full of milky liquid IV nutrient that I nicknamed pudding when I saw that Mom was down one day.  There were days where we got so desperate to raise her spirits we tried anything.  So I asked her if she like the pudding or if we should request to have chocolate or strawberry flavoring added.  It was a cheap try but I could usually get a small smile out of her as I changed the idea of the pudding.  There were a lot of dark days during those weeks.  There were days where I would talk to my Aunt or I would go into Mom’s room and I would know who she needed to visit.  I would call in “the troops” or the “heavy hitters”.  We just weren’t enough some days.  She needed pastors, mentors, family, old friends, funny friends and serious friends.

I also got Mom a little upset by asking to speak with the hospital social worker.  Okay so Mom was a little more than upset.  She was mad.  I had requested that my asking about physical and occupational therapies be kept private but they had to make her aware and I get it.  But boy was she mad.  She just couldn’t understand why I was concerned.  I just didn’t want her going home and not being strong enough.  I wanted to know if there was more we could do for her at her apartment to make her life easier.  But she was absolutely determined that she could do anything if she was in her own apartment.  But I still requested that there be full assessments completed before she was released to the Steinbach hospital again.  And I requested that one of the Oncologists meet with us in her room to be sure of where everything stood.  I made sure I was at the hospital for the assessments and Mom glared at me, made snide comments, and was very nearly rude to the therapists.  She just didn’t see the problem; or did see the problem and didn’t want to face it.  I wanted to know that she could get up the steps into her apartment.  She thought that saying that she could should have been enough.  I just didn’t buy it that time.  She was so much weaker; so much more vulnerable.  I just hoped that at some point she would understand why I had done it.  The months from January to May of 2010 were incredibly difficult;  one rollercoaster after another one.  And even after she was released from the Winnipeg hospital and then the Steinbach hospital it wasn’t over.  Her next chemo was a week away on March 17th.  And we were all scared.  The game had permanently changed.

Up All Night

When I got home at 5 I made some supper and tried to give Pasith a break from the kids.  He was trying to keep up with his computer business in the midst of all the chaos.  Thankfully he had very understanding clients even when he had to bring the kids into their homes.   So when the phone rang just after 7 I had finally started to relax and had plans of spending the evening with the kids.

It was Auntie A on the phone.  Mom was in the ambulance again and on her way to St B. hospital in Winnipeg.  Would I race to meet her there?  Mom was in trouble.  I got off the phone, took a deep breath and went downstairs to talk to Pasith.  I told him I would be back when I could but that I might be there all night.  He also took a deep breath and took it in stride.  I went upstairs and told Sidney that I had to leave again.  She was upset and Alex cried at the door.  My heart broke as I got into the van and backed out of the driveway.

I drove past the emergency entrance and didn’t see an ambulance so I figured I had beaten them.  I drove around and got parked and ran through to the emergency waiting area.   I was only there a minute before Mom was pushed in on the stretcher.  We said hi and she introduced me to the paramedics that brought her in.  She knew at least one of them and had been so thankful to have someone with her that she knew.  One of them went to let the nurses know that Mom was there and I was able to ask the other paramedic some questions about Mom.  She had been throwing up again after I had left town.  She knew where she was.  And she was scared.

They moved her into one of the little curtained off areas all lined up behind the nurses counter.  She had to have a CT Scan and because she was allergic to iodine she had to drink the contrast liquid; 16 ounces of contrast liquid when she had been throwing up off and on for days and now from the smallest of movements.  They set her up on a very heavy dose of Gravol and a few other meds.  She started to get confused as the Gravol took effect so I answered her questions and waited.  The nurse brought the contrast for Mom to drink in a disposable cup and a straw.  I looked at it and didn’t know how we were going to do this.  All I could do was hold my breath, hope and pray.  I picked up the cup and held the straw for Mom to start drinking.  After a few sips she stopped and looked like she was going to lose it.  I begged her to breathe through the nausea.  I tried to explain how important it was that she kept drinking.  She started up again and we had a few more breaks.  A few that I thought were going to push her beyond the point of no return.  And with each break I begged and said a prayer.  If she threw up the contrast we would have to start all over again.  This had to work.

Mom finally got through all of the contrast.  It was about midnight when the technician came down to wheel her up to the CT Scan.  I was desperate to keep the contrast down so I asked the lady to, “Please be careful.”  And when she glared at me I added, “With all due respect.”  I followed her up the elevator and cringed every time there was the slightest bump.  I waited outside the room and held my breath.  Mom came out a few minutes later.  She made it.  Barely.  She had thrown up as soon as they got her out of the machine.  We were so relieved.   We went back down to the emergency room to wait for a room on the 3rd floor.  I called Pasith at about 12:30 and said that I wouldn’t be home that night.

When we got upstairs I waited in the hall while they put the dreaded tube back down her nose into her stomach.  The nurses brought me a recliner to sleep in.  But we ended up having another rough night.  Mom was up about every hour wondering where she was.   The noise from the tube machine made it difficult to hear what she was saying so as she muttered in her sleep I was jumping up thinking that she was getting out of bed or needing something.  I was exhausted but still couldn’t sleep so I took my blanket, took a walk and tried to sleep in the visitor area for a little while but couldn’t sleep there because I was worried that she needed something.  I waited for morning.

At some point the previous evening I had called work to let them know that I wouldn’t be in the next day.  I was very thankful to have an understanding workplace.  Auntie A was on her way so I left the hospital at about 9am and went home to pick up Alex for speech therapy.  I had promised to take him to speech.  Pasith offered to take him but I had missed so much time with him.  I tried to hide the fact that I hadn’t slept all night.  I truly enjoyed seeing his progress and how much he loved it there.  After dropping Alex off at daycare I went home to sleep before going back to the hospital.

Bad to Worse

8:20am on Friday morning.  I had only been at work a few minutes and the phone rang.  My Mom’s number popped up.  My stomach dropped and I froze.  I knew something was wrong.   I picked it up and my Aunt said that she had just called the ambulance for Mom and she was heading over to meet her at the hospital across the street.  Mom hadn’t been able to eat or drink and if she did she threw it up.  She was hardly able to get out of bed or sit up.  She was getting weaker and weaker after having chemo the day before.  Her bowels weren’t working.  The nurse had come that morning and Mom had just gotten up but could hardly walk.  So the nurse got Mom back to bed and ordered her to stay there.  She did her vitals and went out to talk to Auntie.  After some questions and answers whispered back and forth the nurse said, “Call an ambulance or she may not make it through the day.”  Auntie told me that I didn’t have to rush.  She would keep me updated.  My Mom’s other sister and daughter was coming to visit that day and it was too late to call and let them know.  So at least Auntie A would have some company and they could be with Mom as well.

I got off the phone and got as much work done as I could, called Pasith and daycare to make pick up arrangements because it was my day to pick up the kids after work.  I didn’t know what was going to happen or how long I would be gone.   I left work by about 11:30 and raced the 45 minutes to Steinbach.

Mom was still in the ER.  Both of my Aunts and my cousin were there.  It was comforting to have the extra family with us.  I went in to see Mom and she knew I was there but wasn’t really able to speak.  They had an IV pushing fluids in as fast as it would go and they were waiting to admit her.  The four of us took turns going back and forth for the next while between her and the waiting room.  The nurse that had seen her at home that morning came to check on her, which we really appreciated.  Mom finally got a room sometime in the afternoon.  She was so severely dehydrated but throwing up as soon as she ate or drank anything.  The nurse gave us some pudding to try around supper time.  I will never forget how scary it was to see my Aunt feeding my Mom because she was too weak to lift her arm to hold the spoon or sit up.  I had seen my Mom in rough shape but never this weak.  I stayed the night at my Mom’s with my Aunt.  She said I could go home but we were still so nervous about what was coming next.  I didn’t want to drive all the way home just to get called back again.  It was a very uneasy night sleeping at my Mom’s that night.  We both just waited for the phone to ring.  But thankfully it stayed quiet.

We spent the next day with Mom in the hospital and she got better as the day went on.  The IV fluids and nutrients were finally helping.  But she was still not able to eat anything and her bowels weren’t working.  They tested her white blood cells to see where her immunity was at and she was okay so far but they knew it was going to go lower before it went up so they were waiting for the reverse isolation room to move her into.  It was a room to protect her from the rest of the people with its own ventilation system.  I went home after lunch.  Pasith had the kids at work with him at the store.  Alex being 3 Pasith was anxious for me to pick them up, rightfully so.  I talked to Auntie that night and Mom had been moved.  The nurses had attempted giving her broth to drink a few times but she was still throwing up.  And they were talking about having to put the nose tube back in to empty her stomach.

I went back on Sunday morning for about 9am.  Mom tried broth again and hoped that it would stay down.  She did not want that tube again.  She still wasn’t getting out of bed except to go to the bathroom.  And they warned us that she wasn’t out of the woods yet.  It depended on if she could keep liquids down and how low her immunity dropped.  I left for home just after 4 with a very uneasy feeling.  But I needed to get home to my family. I had hardly seen them since Thursday night.  But my time at home was very short lived.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Mom was expected to stay in the hospital for 5 days but she had a harder time recovering this time and ended up staying just over a week in Winnipeg and almost 2 weeks in Steinbach hospital.  Her confusion had been taken care of but her incision wasn’t healing as quickly as it had the last time and her strength wasn’t what it had been.  She was up and walking but not quite as far and a little slower.  But she was determined that she could do everything she had done before and she was going to prove it to everyone.  Especially someone who said she couldn’t.  She fought the decline of her body at every turn.    Food was her greatest issue.  Her intestines had to get used to working again after the colostomy and reversal.  So they had to ease her into eating solid foods very slowly.  One misstep and she would be back to ice chips and the tube down her nose that she hated so much.  And when she got to Steinbach hospital she had a setback do to the food that was given.  There had been miscommunication between the hospitals as to what she needed.  They didn’t have to put the tube down but she was back to broth and jello for a while.  So she was there longer than the expected few days of “step down”.  And it affected her strength once again.  Her body had been knocked down again.  The discussion concerning whether she needed a walker or a cane came up but she fought hard to prove that neither was needed.  She would walk on her own.  And she did.

Mom finally went home in the first week of February and she was so happy to be home.  She lived on the upper floor of a four plex so she had about 4 steps to get up to her apartment.  The front door had the steps on the outside of the house so we put up a sign requesting that everyone go to the front door so Mom didn’t have to go down the stairs to let them in.  She was very weak when she came home and Auntie A was staying with her to be sure she was all right.  Home care was stepped up with a nurse coming at least once a day to check on her incision.  Mom was determined that she was going to do what she wanted.  Her life would return to what it had been.  She wanted to go for breakfast with her friends.  Auntie A obliged one morning that week.  But Mom wasn’t returning to her normal.  She wasn’t able to eat much, she had to be very careful to not be sick.  She wasn’t getting stronger.  Auntie A, along with the rest of us, was very concerned.

At the end of that week Mom had a chemo appointment.  The Oncologist had made the tentative appointment with the condition that Mom was up to it.  But the communication didn’t get to the Oncologist that she had been in the Steinbach hospital as long as she had.  Or that her condition was definitely not up to having chemo.  But Auntie took her to the chemo appointment thinking that they would take one look at her and send her home.  Mom was determined that if they had made the appointment she was ready.  She would not accept the fact that she was not well enough.

Auntie drove her across the street, Mom went up the elevator and she was almost too tired to sit.  They laid her down for her treatment and did some preliminary checks and Auntie A went to get some coffee thinking that she would be taking her home when she got back.  She didn’t think there was any way that they would deem that Mom was fit for the treatment.  But when she got back the treatment had started.  Now, I want to be clear that none of us hold the nurses or anyone else responsible for what happened.  They were following the orders that they had been given by Oncology in Winnipeg.  And Mom could be very convincing.  I’m sure she told them how wonderful she felt and how great everything was going.

My sister called me that night to tell me what happened and how upset my Aunt was.  My Mom had gone home and basically stayed in bed the rest of the day and couldn’t eat.  And Mom staying in bed was a bad sign.  Before the last 2 months of illness there were very few times that she laid down during the day.  She was always up, even if it was in her recliner.  But she felt it was a sign of weakness to lie down so all of us took this very seriously.  But it would get worse.

Meeting on a Hill

As we drove up the hill I saw the formidable limestone walls and it was all familiar again.  Beautiful fluffy snow was coming down and the wind was blowing as we walked across the parking lot to the main doors.  Before I stepped through the doors I turned and looked out at the stark openness and felt the isolation.  After getting through security we took the walk down the cold and dark hallways to our meeting room.  We got to our meeting room and started to set up the chairs and sofas in a classic circle based on Aboriginal talking circles.  This wouldn’t be just any circle.  Stony Mountain Penitentiary hasn’t changed much in the 20 years it’s been since I last visited.  But that’s a whole different story.  This visit was very different from the last two but the first and second definitely led up to this.

I have been getting together with a community group twice a month since September.  We get together in “circles” to discuss ideas about justice, truth, family and faith, among other things.  We were all strangers in September from all walks of life and all ages but now we are friends, we trust each other.  But we weren’t just meeting for ourselves we were preparing to meet up with a group of prisoners who have been meeting inside Stony for a year.  I’m not sure if this has ever happened before; “insiders” and “outsiders” sitting in a circle discussing some of the most complex subjects in humanity.  And this was our first meeting.  The meeting is confidential but I can give you insight from my perspective.

We began with a simple circle of our names, where we are from and our favorite dessert.  Throughout the meeting the guys were open and honest with us and we were the same.  It was pretty amazing to realize what we were there to accomplish; to find middle ground on these complex issues.  And there were times when it got a little politically heated but everyone was willing and able to bring it back down.

After a coffee break we came back to the circle to have our first discussion.  Justice.  We each gave our idea of justice.  What had to happen to achieve justice, how it affects each of us from our own perspective.  And is it even possible?  It was a very interesting and engaging discussion.  Two groups from what society would think are opposing sides were able to come to a consensus in the end on justice.  Nothing short of amazing.  One of the most memorable moments for me was when one of the guys from the inside said that he found it so amazing that when we were giving our definitions on justice you couldn’t tell who was from the inside and who was from the outside.

Other than one of the facilitators I am the only “victim” in the group.  I prefer survivor.  And I wasn’t sure of how to handle my situation but I just trusted that my story would be told at the right time.  I have to say that I was hoping that it would be sooner than later just because I felt a bit dishonest, like I was holding something from them.  I couldn’t answer questions as fully as I would have preferred.  So when I was asked by a facilitator what brought me to the group I took a deep breath and decided that this must be the right time.  I told them my story, the short version, and about my Mom and the work that she had done in Restorative Justice in the early 80’s and her influence on my decisions in this.  I was as vague as possible and didn’t give out names or places.  I’ve learned how to tailor my story to my audience over the years.  And I told them how I have never had hate or revenge in my heart only a need for understanding.  They sat with their jaws open and someone told me later that there were tears in their eyes.  I want to show them that there is hope.  Hope for them.  Hope that they can one day meet with their victim’s families, as many of them wish to do.  And I hope that I can help them to understand their victim’s families better.  And I would like to ensure that at these men will remember me when they do leave prison and know that there is another way.  They have choices.

First and foremost I belong to this group to honor the memory of my parents.  I know that this is what both of them would want.  Neither of my parents was about hate or revenge.  They were both about healing and redemption.  I am continuing that legacy for their memory, my freedom and my children’s future.

Surgery, Cough and Confusion

6 am on Thursday, Jan 14th, 2010 I’m standing in the dim light of the St Boniface Hospital atrium.  I’m waiting for my Mom and my Aunt to arrive for my Mom’s surgery.  I’m looking around concerned that something happened; I’m not used to arriving anywhere before my Mom.  She was always early.  Then I hear my name, which being Lisa is pretty common, I look around but I don’t see anyone that I know so I assume that it is another Lisa.  As I scan the atrium I see someone walking toward me with a big smile and slowly realize that it is my Mom.  I didn’t recognize her.  I felt awful and tried my best to cover for myself.  She was happy, excited about the surgery that would reverse her colostomy.

We got through the pre-op all right.  The doctor was joking and made my Mom at ease.  He was very good at that.  My Aunt and I sat through another surgery, but this time it was during the day and this time we didn’t lose her.  Mom came through the surgery very well and they were able to accomplish everything they had set out to.  Mom’s body wasn’t quite as strong as it had been during the last surgery but she seemed to be coming around pretty well.  She needed a little more meds and she wasn’t up and around quite as quickly.  She was a little confused off and on.  We weren’t sure if it was due to the medications she was on or if her nutrients were low.  At the time we took it in stride but now as I look back it haunts me.  The confusion was what she always wanted to avoid.

She was all right until Saturday evening.  That was when the confusion seemed to take over.  My Aunt had been at the hospital until late afternoon, and then I came to take over for the evening.  Mom seemed okay until the nurses tried to get her ready for bed around 9:30.  I had just called home to let Pasith know I would be home around 10.  There were visitors in the next room that were a little loud and for some reason this set Mom off.  The nurse came in and Mom accused her of being an imposter.  She was the same nurse Mom had seen for the last few days.  Mom wouldn’t allow her to come near her.  Mom was also very angry about the voices coming from the other room.  A second nurse came in to help out.  But still Mom wouldn’t allow them to come near her.  “Anyone could put on that coat.  How do I know you’re really a nurse?  How are you going to prove it?  Who are you really?”  Mom was looking to me to confirm that these nurses were imposters.  So I had to ride the line of not upsetting her but also work with the nurses so they could do their job.  I tried to tell Mom that these women really were nurses and that I remembered them from before.  I tried to convince her they were safe.  Mom wasn’t buying it.  So I asked the nurses to leave for a minute so I could talk to her.  I asked her to trust me.  “No.  How do I know they are nurses?”  So I asked her, “What if the nurses are able to get the noise to stop next door?  Then can they get you ready for bed?  I will stay right here and I’ll make sure that they don’t do anything wrong.”

I went out in the hall and discussed the deal.  They agreed to send the visitors home and asked me to stay the night.  I said that I would see if Mom’s situation would change by 11.  If she was still out of sorts I would stay.  Mom kept asking the nurses who they were and gave them a little grief but they finally were able to do their job.  They asked me again to stay because Mom was still very distrustful and had tried to get out of bed.  So I called Pasith and said that I wouldn’t be home that night.  The nurse brought me a cot and I settled in for the night.  Another issue was that I had a really bad cough at the time.  I had tried everything to get rid of it but it just wouldn’t go away.  So now I have to sleep on a cot in my Mom’s room and hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t cough too much keeping everyone up.

Soon after I laid down the first time I heard movement and jumped up.  My Mom was sitting up and moving her legs over the side of the bed.  I asked her if she was okay.  She said, “I need to go to the bathroom”.  I said, “No you don’t.”  She had IV and a catheter in.  “How do you know?  I need to go to the bathroom.”  I walked over to help her back into bed, stifled a giggle and said, “Mom, you have a catheter in so you don’t have to go the bathroom.”  “Oh.  Well I didn’t know that.”  And we both went back to bed, for another half an hour.  And for the next 8 hours she woke up every half an hour and tried to get out of bed.  Another frequent conversation that night was, “Where am I?”  My answer was, “St Boniface in Winnipeg.”  “I’m not in Steinbach?” “No Mom, you’re in Winnipeg in the hospital.”  “What happened?”  “You had surgery and you are okay.”  “Am I in Steinbach?  Where am I?”  My Aunt came in around noon on Sunday to relieve me.  My cough was the least of my problems that night.

End of a Break

I have been taking a break from blogging.  Well, a break from publishing my blogs.  I have been writing but then part way through decide that I need to say something else and start another one.  So I have several partially completed blogs that may surface in the near future.  I needed this break just to think my way through the last month.  It was not an easy month with lots of ups and downs.

But here I am on the other side of the last month as well as a year of remembrance, grieving and recovery.  I am not saying that everything is “normal” but I am finding the new normal.  When I started blogging about my Mom’s illness I had hoped to be done by the first anniversary.  But I slowly realized how aggressive that plan was.  I just wasn’t prepared to deal with it so quickly.  As I write these blogs I really am dealing with the content.  They aren’t just words on the page I take them seriously and process them as I write.  So I realized that I had to go at the pace of my heart, not my head.  And now that I have passed the one year mark I have to say that my feelings concerning my Mother’s illness and death have changed.  As I had hoped they would.  The stabbing pain is gone and has been replaced by smoldering memories.   I am beginning to feel the relief.

When I realized that the pain that I was writing from was gone I wondered if I should continue to blog about my Mom’s illness.  I have gone back and forth several times.  And have decided to see it through.  The recount will no longer come out of a desperate plea for relief but a desire to have a written account of what we all went through; especially Mom.  My Mom suffered in relative silence my entire life and I want to end that silence.  She deserves a voice and a light needs to be shed on the suffering that comes with chronic and terminal illnesses.  I also have a few other things that I feel more ready to share about myself and my life.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Off Balance

I’m off balance.  I feel like I have been tipped off my axis.  I think most people who have lost someone close to them can identify with how I feel right now.  Some days it’s a slight disorientation.  Other days, like today, it feels like your brain and body aren’t quite connected.  I’m in a fog.  I have written about being in a fog before; the grief fog.  I’ve been here a lot over the last 4 years and I think I’m starting to understand it a little better – while I’m here I might as well figure it out.

I believe that we as humans are all connected on a base level.  I do think that there are some people that step outside of that connection and are able to commit horrific crimes against humanity.  But the vast majority of us are connected.  Scientifically speaking our DNA is about 99.5% identical; only a .5% variance in the human race.  That’s pretty incredible.  The world suddenly feels a little smaller.  And I think that this is partly where the fog and disorientation comes in.  Someone passing from this world to the next leaves a void; a physical, emotional and spiritual void.  There is a spot that is no longer taken up by that person.  And it seems to me that when that happens the people closest to that person temporarily lose their balance.  They have to readjust to their surroundings.  It seems like a simple equation and I’ve had a lot of conversations using words like adjusting, coping, moving on and shock these past few weeks, as well as the last few years.  But there is a definite physical element to it.  For me it feels like my mind is trying to keep up with what is happening.  The world moves at regular pace and I’m in slow motion; concentration, organization, normal daily habits, like eating, just seems impossible at times.  Time itself seems to warp, sometimes moving quickly, sometimes not moving at all.  The feeling takes over and leaves without warning.

Largely we are designed to readjust to the new surroundings.  Babies are born to take the place of the one who is gone.  Life continues.  There are situations and circumstances where the adjustment is never made.  For instance, there are times when one spouse will die from a broken heart after their partner of 60 or 70 years is gone; or in the death of a child, something that I cannot imagine.  But, in general we are designed to adjust and move on.  I wish I could say that I had found a quick and easy way to get through all of this but I haven’t yet.  Believe me, if I do find a way I’ll let you know.  It takes time, so cheesy but true.  The only other thing is to feel it when it comes.  Don’t deny it or push it aside, feel the emotions.  The more you ignore the fog and the emotions the stronger they will become.  So you might as well deal with it in a timely manner.

Death is not easy, no matter what anyone tells you.  But I also know that there is hope.  Hope that the world will stop spinning.  Hope that life will continue.  And most of all hope that the people that have passed are in a much better place than this.  If anything we should be envious.