Archive for June, 2015
People love slogans, and saying things like “Well you have to think about the quality of life,” or “Put yourself in their place would you want to live that way?” I am here to tell you that that’s all crap. Horrible things happen, and walking around spouting out slogans is of no comfort when you have to watch someone you love die in slow motion. All the people who will pat you on the back encouraging you to let the person you love go for their sake, will be the very same people who will avoid the consequences of turning that slogan into actual reality like the plague.
On Thursday night after over a year of questioning ourselves, and watching our loved one slowly deteriorate before our very eyes we made the decision to honor his living will. His feeding peg was turned off. A decision that in all truthfulness I can not say was something we were 100% sure was the right thing to do. The deciding factors were that we had reached the point where nothing else could be done to reverse his physical situation. For the last eleven months he has been bed bound. Being kept alive by a feeding peg. I know your saying to yourself that’s not living. Well that statement comes with a great deal of baggage.
He was still able to smile, and joke with us. You could still see his spirit. Even now after day five there are those moments when he escapes the dying process to show us he is still there, still himself. This is torture for us. It leaves you standing by his bedside almost in a panic, wanting to run out and bring back the feeding peg. All the people who kept proclaiming that this was what was best for him are the same people who are now unable to find the unbelievable amount of strength it takes to watch someone die in slow motion before their very eyes.
They do not sit by his side every hour comforting him. Making sure you don’t ball your eyes out in front of him. They do not sit with you as well-meaning family and friends come in, and out of the room to see him. They do not have to bathe him, or turn him from side to side to keep his fragile skin from breaking open. When they see him now they do not spew out the slogans that they once held with such adamant regard. Now they are filled with the reality of what dying in slow motion looks like. They can not find the strength to watch the very thing they felt was” the right thing to do .”
They can leave that room after a few short minutes,and escape back to their lives.This is not an option for our loved one. This is something we can not do either because even in those brief moments when we trade places to take a shower or handle the daily tasks that still need to be handled, we are still there in that room watching our loved one dying in slow motion.
There are points in time where your love for another human being can actually break you. I am broken. Hospice is currently in the process of evaluating our loved one’s condition. Our family has spent the last week preparing ourselves for the heart breaking moment when we must actually let him go. It was excruciating watching my husband, my children. and all of the others walk around trying to find a way to deal with this most difficult process. I found myself watching each family member as they struggled to come to terms with their own grief. Broken spirits walking around in their physical bodies like empty ghosts.
Each one trying to find a way to love him, and be there for him. I just keep cleaning things, cooking, and in the moments when the others take a small break from his side I run to be with him. I keep bathing him, changing his linens, and sitting beside him as I have for the last four years of his life. When we are alone he looks at me almost as though he can see straight through me. I wonder if to him we all look like ghosts. I know he knows on some level that he is leaving us, but we never directly speak about this because it’s simply too hard.
People are a lot like a beautiful piece of crystal. We come in many unique forms, but we are all transparent, easily broken. Even though we can sometimes be mended back together you can never be the same way you were before you were broken. The Japanese revere imperfection. In tea ceremonies the bowl with the most cracks is considered to be the most beautiful bowl. It represents the beauty brought about by the passage of time. It also evokes the lonely sense of impermanence. We all change with each passing moment.
In our moments right now I can see each of us slowly breaking. Tender moments where your heart, and your mind become so filled with grief that it has to break in order to release the immense pain that overflows from inside of you. It’s the love that breaks you…
There are some birthdays that stand out in your memories more than others, and I’m sure turning 51 will be one that I never forget. I was able to convince my steadfast Swede husband to take the day off so waking up in my birthday suit after having the luxury of sleeping in a couple of hours longer than usual was a great start. Morning coffee,pistachio baklava, and a movie on a Tuesday morning well that for me was like a small piece of heaven.
My loved one, and I have shared the same birthday for 32 years. So this year we decided that we would all go up to the nursing facility, and completely decorate his entire room. Before hopping in the shower I peeked at my FB page, and I was showered with beautiful wishes from all my family, and friends.My Daughter stayed up until midnight so she could be the first to post happy birthday to me on my page. She posted one of my favorite pictures of us together, and wrote the most beautiful tribute to me. I don’t think I will ever forget the beauty of her words. That post alone would have made this birthday unforgettable.
Yesterday my Mom, and my Sister (The Goat Cheese Sister) invited me, and my children over for a lunch where they prepared all of my favorite dishes. My Sister knows that I have always wanted to go to Norway, and that my favorite animal in the world is the goat. So this year she contacted an artist who had photographed goats in Norway to buy me custom-made hand towels with the goat’s image on them. They are completely awesome!
My father-in-law who has been a total warrior is at the point where his body will no longer be able to continue his battle. Yesterday was our last birthday together. After 32 wonderful birthdays together I can not even imagine a birthday without him. As a family we decorated his room, and we all sat around his bed sharing our favorite memories together. It was one of the most precious, and heartbreaking moments of my life. Aside from our immense love for him, the only gift we have left to give him is his dignity. We made the heart breaking decision to honor his last wishes.
My cousin gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who will now share my future birthdays with me. I believe he his a gift from the heavens to remind me that life is full of both meetings, and partings. So you see there are some birthdays that do stand out in our memories more than others, it has truly been the most unusual birthday ever…
We are all funny little creatures in this life, and even though there are a million things to find fault with the thing I love most is our humor. The moments where in the middle of all the daily madness where everyone’s mind goes to the same place at the same time, and suddenly you find yourself “belly laughing” at the moment.
Last night our daughter, and our future son-in-law came over to see us. We spend a lot of time with our kids even though they are grown-ups. It’s one of the things I appreciate most about our lives. It is also the road to some great “Belly Laughs.” The kind of uncontrollable laughter that comes from deep inside your belly. It’s a powerful laugh that causes your stomach to almost ache with delight. Tears of joy actually roll down your cheeks, and the inability to catch your breath is actually a good thing.
Our future son-in-law is a very polite, and very conscientious when he speaks to you. Even when joking he is very careful with his wording. Our daughter on the other hand has a much more mischievous nature with her humor. Our family is very open about subjects that other people might approach in a more polite way, or even more likely not at all! Nothing amuses her more than exposing human nature in its less than polite version. Unfortunately for her fiance’, she is particularly amused by his embarrassment when he feels that he has been impolite.
So as the four of us were sitting around the kitchen gabbing away we stumbled on the subject of their wedding. The kids have set up a really nice website where their guests can go on, and see all their wedding plans as they occur. It shows you when, where, convenient hotels for our out of state guests, the wedding party, and their registry. Our kids have been together for 7 years, and have lived together for almost 2 years. They are very organized, and have furnished their apartment with everything they’ve needed to make it their place a home. So under the category of registry they have stated that the presence of their guest was the only present they need.
At this point in the conversation our son-in-law who is usually very reserved started very openly expressing his dislike of having too many things, and began a comical rant over the items he found to be ridiculous like the cheap dish rack that didn’t even fit in their sink. Then our daughter looks up at him with the most stern look she can muster up without giving herself away, and says “Well way to go dear Mom bought us that rack!”
My poor son-in-law mortified over the fact that he realizes he has been brutally honest about his dislike over something I bought for them starts to stutter turning bright red with embarrassment. Our daughter looks at my husband, and myself completely amused with herself for putting him on the spot, over something she knows we would (and did) find absolutely hilarious. Our son-in-law who is still trying to correct what he believes may have hurt my feelings is unaware that the 3 of us are trying to hold back the world’s largest “Belly Laughter” looks up with great sincerity, and says with complete mortification to our daughter “Well I just embarrassed myself!”
Our daughter, my husband, and I just burst into a roaring “Belly Laughter” that seemed to last forever. Aside from my poor son-in-law’s mortification it was just the best laugh I have had in a while. It just felt so good. All of us together sharing this simple, but wonderful moment. It was also a great bonding moment with our son-in-law. He is learning more about who we are on a much deeper level. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to bond than through “Belly Laughter.” 😉
I am 50 years old but this morning I woke up feeling like that five-year old girl who use to run around the house in her pajamas following the smell of coffee looking for her Dad. I lost my Dad seven years ago today, which also happened to be his mother’s birthday. Some how knowing that he left us on his mother’s birthday has always left me with the comfort of feeling like she came to take her baby home.
My relationship with my Dad was a complicated one, but I was lucky because in the last years of his life we had the opportunity to work things out. I still feel his presence in my life very strongly. I do not waste my time focusing on the difficult parts of our relationship. I decided years ago that I would take the difficult moments as life lessons rather than an excuse to persecute him for a lifetime. The moment you are able to see your parents as human beings is the moment in life where you truly grow up.
Today I am thinking about all the really wonderful moments we shared like fishing together in a small boat on the lake, our trips to my Grandmother’s home in West Virgina, pitching pennies into Tupperware bowls on rainy days. Playing baseball in the field with all the kids in the neighborhood. He would play ball with us for hours, and when the ice-cream truck would come by he would buy an ice-cream for each, and every one of us.
My Dad taught me about generosity, how to take pride in doing things the right way. He taught me the love of reading, and to have compassion for those who have disabilities, and for those who are less fortunate. He taught me the importance of family. He taught me self-respect, and how to be strong.
The most important lesson my Dad taught me was forgiveness. I will honestly tell you that sometimes it takes me a little longer to reach the point of forgiveness, but in the end I am always able to reach that moment where I remember we are all simply human beings. Forgiveness is the ultimate act of unconditional love. It is love in its purest form, love without ego. I believe it is in those most precious moments we are able to be truly happy.
This morning as I sat alone drinking my coffee, I knew that I was only alone by physical appearances. I knew that I was having coffee with my Dad. 😉
My eyes search for you.
I see your form, and I search for your light.
My eyes watch so closely,
that I can actually see the moments when your inner
light peeks out through your body.
Your light is like the light of the sun as it leaves the day.
A light that that once burned with such intensity that
my eyes never had to search to see it’s existence.
The light of a sunset leaves with the promise
of returning tomorrow .
My eyes search for your light,
I keep searching for it’s promise that you will
return again tomorrow.
As I stood on the boardwalk waiting for the limo to arrive with both brides it occurred to me that the most extraordinary part of life is that no matter how difficult things can be there are those moments so filled with love, and joy you can actually feel the long forgotten feeling of pure happiness. Life is beautiful in this way.
After 8 years of being together our cousin, and her partner decided that it was time to get engaged. Just one short year ago this was not something legally permitted in the state where we live. I take great issue with the idea that this basic human right is even an issue. It’s my personal belief that if two consenting adults decide they would like to be married that is their right. I will never be able to follow the thought process that we are all entitled to basic human rights, with the exception of some human beings.(I will save that rant for another day.) Today’s post is about life’s more beautiful moments.
Our cousin’s engagement was announced a few days ago, and after thinking things over they decided that they had waited long enough. They decided to tell a few family members, and close friends they would be having a small ceremony on the beach. No elaborate planning, stress, or extravagances just a genuine celebration of love with the support of those who would be attending.
Imagine the sun setting, soft white sand, the gorgeous gulf water gently coming back and forth on the shore. There were four simple Tiki torches lit, and a small table with champagne glasses for the wedding toast. Rose pedals were gently scattered on the board walk leading out to the beach where they would say the vows they had written for themselves. Jimmy Buffet’s music softly playing in the background. The guests were in casual beach attire, and both brides wore matching outfits.
As I stood on the beach I was overcome with emotion. In two short days a wedding had been put together. There could be no match for the beauty of nature’s decorations. There could be no equal for the love of those who surrounded the happy couple. It was love in it’s most beautiful expression. Some loves have no equal. 😉