101 Days til Bliss

Life is just bizarre at times. This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions as a family member passed away. At 97 no one can say they didn’t see it coming but the drama of it all still takes it’s toll.

In a lot of ways, the whole process was healing to me. Being able to be there as he let go was something a few years ago would have terrified me. Now I just realized that the process had started & accepted it for what it was. The death rattle didn’t scare me, just made me wish there was something I could do to prevent the pain & confusion. Thankfully although all I could do is talk with him & hold his hand, hospice was there to assist with the pain & anxiety. Not sure how people pass without them & their gifts but again I am grateful for all they do & amazed that people do this daily yet stay so positive and caring.

The good-bye itself carried a lot of emotion. I believe that you never turn your back on family & that blood binds, but at times that is tested for sure. He & I didn’t agree on a lot of things, but he cared for my father when he was young & tried to be there for us all. Listening to so many rave about him at his funeral almost made me forget the bad times. I am thankful that there are so many who do remember him fondly & that I could hear the good things he did in his life. His time on earth truly has impacted many people in a lot of ways which is an achievement for sure. He fought hard to make it to 100, but in the end it was time for him to go on.

Now it is time for us to move on. Getting hugs at the end of the days from my nephew and seeing his smile reminded me that there is hope for a better tomorrow. Just have to make it so.

Which got me thinking- why abandon this blog? Because it reminds me of the tough times? Nah. Those are the times that made me strong enough to be who I am today. Scars and all.

So time to revamp & renew. Change this into something that once again makes me feel at peace with life. Happy to be me. Thus the new look.

Hopefully the changes will be good ones. Time will tell.  All we can do is the best we can & find something to always look forward to. See the glimmer of hope.

For me today that spark is knowing that in 101 days I will be in Disney World with the cutest kid I know as one of the happiest aunts alive.

That and that there is always a snuggle waiting patiently by my side.

Pugs lives are just hard sometimes.

Pugs lives are just hard sometimes.

 

 

 

There is an Elephant in my Room!

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Last week was my parents’ wedding anniversary.  The first one Dad celebrated solo.  The plan was for my sister & I to be around him as much of the day as possible to try to make it a little easier.  Since it fell on a Monday, and I have class Monday nights this semester, the best I could do was stay for the weekend then head back home after lunch on the anniversary date.  Distractions worked.  Evidently better than we thought because he didn’t realize it was July 1st til after I left.  It may have been months, but we are all still adjusting to losing Mom.

Bright spot in the day for me was learning that I had won a contest on Facebook!

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Not just any contest but one from Lower Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCare Center’s  Begin The Conversation program. Talk about life’s interesting timing! Not sure there is room on the internet for me to say enough good stuff about hospice.  We really would not have been able to deal with losing Mom in any way near as well as we have without them.  Locally, I was extremely thankful for the grief programs offered.  There was a great comfort knowing that even though I was home, I could still have support resources to help.  The program I went through was focused on adults who have lost parents and the specific focus of the group really did help.

Know what else has helped? Having had “The Conversation” – Which is the focus of the Begin The Conversation program.  Knowledge really is power.

What is Begin The Conversation?

Their mission states is better than I ever could:

Mission

The objectives of Begin the Conversation include: 1) the understanding of possible healthcare choices, including timely hospice and palliative care services; 2) the knowledge about ways to record decisions, using advance care planning forms, legal documents, toolkits, and other resources; 3) encouragement to have end-of-life conversations with loved ones, family members, clergy, and physicians.

Basically, knowing what your loved one would want IF anything did happen is ideal for everyone.  They have the comfort of knowing that their wishes are carried out, or more likely that their loved ones aren’t going to be stressed out trying to plan or do everything, and we who lose someone have some guidelines in place to allow us to do what we think should be done while we also try to deal with adjusting to losing someone.
Key is understanding the options available.  After understanding the choices, put them in writing.  For some cases having them spelled out will help in legal situations.  Other times it helps to be a reminder of what they want.
I remember the first few times coming to my parents to see the big orange DNR posted on the fridge.  Was the first thing you’d see walking in the door.  It hurt.  BIG TIME.  But after a while I got used to seeing it and it hurt less.  Even when the sight of it grew less startling, I knew what it meant.  Do Not Resuscitate.  If something started going wrong with Mom, they were not to take extreme actions.  Very hard to grasp emotionally, but learning to get used to that sign, helped me get used to the fact that she was at the point where things were not going to get better and we had to learn to let go – for her.
Her coming to terms with passing in a lot of ways felt like giving up.  We as a family wanted to inspire her to fight on, even when the odds were not in our favor.  There comes a point where you just can not keep putting up the fight but there is beauty in the grace of letting go.  Looking back, finding peace with her decision probably prolonged the process and certainly it took away some of the stress of constantly searching for a long term plan.  Instead of planning the next round of attacks, we enjoyed as much as we had left together.  Turned out we had more time than we could have imagined and it went by quicker than we wanted.
Honestly.  In writing this post, I have tears in my eyes.  It still hurts.  But the pain is from missing her.  Not from wondering if we could have done anything differently.  Which truly is a gift.
Truth is we all will lose someone.  It will always hurt and we will never be quite as ready as we want to be.  Still there are things that help greatly.  Discussion, tough as it is, really does help.  Doesn’t need to be done at the end or after someone is diagnosed, but that certainly should be done then.  Every adult should think about what they would want IF something happens (which it will at some point).
Get it out of the way.  Think about it.  Talk about it. Then live knowing you are prepared.
Sure it is a bit scary and tough to think about.  Doesn’t get any easier the longer you put it off.  I promise it can make it all a lot easier when the time comes, which I sincerely hope is a long, long way off.

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Grateful for the T shirt too which I hope sparks conversations as I wear it proudly.  Also couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that I won elephant related gifts!  Truly is the year of becoming an ElephAUNT.  Will have to let my nephew try out the stress elephant next time I visit.  Which thankfully will be soon.

Just a Call

Just a few weeks ago if someone asked me, I would have thought I was an adult.  Lately I just feel helpless and like a kid lost in a daze.  One moment I feel like I am getting back to me, the next I just want to find a fuzzy blanket to crawl into and cry my eyes out.

Some how I was able to make it to class all last week, even was able to speak the words “my mother passed” when someone asked.  Today I nearly lost it when a cashier asked if I was “Starlette?” when using a phone number to look up the store discount card. (Note: need to get those changed to Dad’s name!)

Still feels like she will walk through the door at any moment with shopping bags or stories of some vacation she has been on.  Find myself wanting to pick up the phone to call her and talk about this or that.  It all doesn’t feel real.  How can it be?

Being with my Dad is making me feel worse than I thought it would.  He is visiting her grave daily.  The beds are pushed back into one with fresh sheets.  He has disposed of all the drug boxes (we left all the morphine & everything else at the hospice house), the wheelchairs and machines have been picked up.  Her laundry washed & folded.   He seems a bit lost too.  I try to be positive for him, listen and we talk about her most of the day.

Really hard to fathom that it is over.  The fight.  The love story.  The life.

None of it seems fair.

Just a roll of the dice & she gets some crazy form of cancer we never heard of.   Taken away for what?

In a world where love is so hard to find, why did she have to die?  They had their ups and downs, but they had the real deal.  Just not fair.  Would much rather it had been me.  Much less to leave a void with.

Started the tasks of writing out thank you notes today and it reminded me of how many lives she touched during those short 62 years.  After a while we just had to stop and go have dinner to get away from it.  How do you thank someone for caring for your mom?  What words can be written to express appreciation for seeing the value in her?

I have to trust that time heals because this sucks.  Maybe tomorrow I will wake and feel more me.  See the good and have the motivation to do all the normal stuff and maybe some of the other junk.  Til then I am just going to keep fighting the urge to breakdown and hope that no one else ever gets diagnosed with cancer ever again.  A gal can wish…