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PAPAMIKIE
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Balancing Life and Death

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

As some of you may know, Nov 2012 my sister was diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer and given a very poor prognosis. This changed many things for her and her adult girls and for me and my family. We became the primary supports for Debi and her daughters. Gramie and I and our daughter Rose became the doers when things needed to be done. Debi when through Chemo and initially things improved some.

The initial scan following her first Chemo showed great improvement, however, while this was expected it was clear to me that this would be short lived. The Oncologist had said that if she responded well we would see some quick improvement and Debi should feel better until the Cancer returned. He said when it returned we would see what we could do then. His voice tone and body language implied there would not be much we could do.

Debi had a good Christmas and she and the girls had largely allowed themselves to believe that the Chemo was a cure. This lasted until the doctor’s note supporting her application for disability indicated that Debi would never return to work. At this point it was almost like getting the original diagnosis again. I noted to Gramie that the illusion got them through Christmas without much concern about the disease.

Debi complete her Chemo and we had a party to celebrate on Feb 10 2013. This was organized by Debi and the girls and turned out to be a very good thing.

Debi had quite a lot of pain and we took her into the hospital Mar 3 2013 the scan showed the Cancer had spread into her spine and resulted in a spinal fracture and had also continued to develop in her kidneys the Liver still looked good, but the liver functioning turned out to be way off. She was sent home but returned Wed night and was admitted. By Thursday night her condition had worsened and we were informed she might not make it through the night. By and large, they have been able to keep her comfortable but, she has become progressively less responsive, often not showing any awareness of our presence nor response to our voice or touch.

I have shifted my focus to organizing the many things that need to be organized to settle her estate. While she was well enough I did relaxation and pain management work with her. This helped or at least appeared to. I do believe it made her most difficult time somewhat easier. She has not died, but has left us. We go in and sit with her, read to her, talk to her, sing at her and so on, day by day the little responses we got last week have become less and less.

Yesterday afternoon I spent making final arrangements and organizing money to deal with bridging from the time she dies until the house can be sorted out and sold. We plan to have a break after she dies and do a scattering of her ashes in the summer at lake where we spent our summers as kids, this was one of the place she like best and one of the happiest times of her life. Debi was the keeper of my grandparents ashes and it seem appropriate that we will also cast their ashes with hers (they had a cottage on the same lake for many years).

Gramie and I have continued to focus taking care of ourselves. I have mostly maintained my Taiji and Qigong, but have not documented here at sparks in the Tai Chi team goals. One has to balance the time available and the many things that have to be done.

We are coming to the end of this phase. Sometime in the near future I will get a call from the hospital informing me that Deborah Doris McCaffrey passed out of this life. I will call the cremation service and they will manage the necessary details. I will inform my sibling and Debi’s daughters and we will deal with the fact that Debi has passed out of this life.

We mostly feel like we have accepted the fact, Debi is no longer able to respond in ways that we can detect, however, I know that when she actually dies, this fact will be different, and will make a difference. It is not easy to know how each of us will respond to the lost which is Debi can not respond to us, and the lost that Debi is no longer available to us physically.

This is all part of the cycle of living and dying. It is a reminder to me to live each day, to say and do the things you want to say and do, and do not put things off.


Edited at 8;20

Today at 3:30 p.m Deborah Doris McCaffrey died quietly with her daughter reading to her.

The cycle has completed for her.

Let the Chi Flow. May she rest in peace and find a place in the kingdom of God.

Edited Mar 20 2:53 p.m.

I had to share that Merrisa was reading a book given to her by her mom. Her mom was given the book by Alethia Debi's oldest daughter and Merrisa's big sister. Something very comforting in that .

Edited Mar 29 8;00 p.m. I have posted another blog that outlines some of the things I was able to do to help Debi be more comfortable this may be of some interested to some of you.

www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • v JULIA1154
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss yet oddly uplifted by the way you approached your sister's situation. My thoughts are with you, her daughters, and all your family. May light eternal shine upon her.
    1164 days ago
  • v CORNERKICK
    So sorry for you loss. I hope her memory will ease your pain.
    1164 days ago
  • v MELBA1496
    So sorry about the loss of your sister. You and all of her family are in our prayers. May God bless you and give you peace.
    1164 days ago
  • v BRITTANYS-FSAP
    Sending positive thoughts your way.
    1164 days ago
  • v GAYLEP67
    My deepest condolences for your loss. On May 31st I will be participating in Relay for Life in my hometown in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. I will include your sister in amongst the many people I'm walking in honour of.
    1164 days ago
  • v PEETBRIT
    So sorry for your loss.
    1164 days ago
  • v DEBLYNN323
    Sorry for your loss, such a genuine and loving reminder of our journey.

    Prayers to you and your family.

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    1164 days ago
  • v LSPIZZA
    I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my husband suddenly in 2008 and it was practically unbearable. But when I read stories like this, I am not sure that having warning of a death helps. I wish you peace.
    1164 days ago
  • v REDBIRDFLY
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    1164 days ago
  • v LRB444
    I'm so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the struggles you must be going through.

    I am grateful for your blog. It is a reminder that life is short and I think we all need to be reminded of that from time to time.

    Thanks for sharing your sister with us.
    1164 days ago
  • v THOMS1
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    1164 days ago
  • v TAFFYKIDS
    May your memories be a comfort to you all at this time of great sadness. Celebrate her life! I love your idea of scattering all of the ashes at the lake where you had such great times. We did the same thing here at our summer lake with my grandparents, dad and brother (and dog :) ). It is where they would have all wanted to be. Take care.
    1164 days ago
  • v MARYJEANSL
    Please accept my condolences on your loss. Losing a sister is heart-wrenching.
    1164 days ago
  • v KEEPFIT2013
    Thank You.
    How lovely that you could be such a part of Debi's journey. Your story is a tribute to her and to your family for holding the space for her to make her transition. And in so doing, it seem to have been such a gift for all of you.An inspiration to us all!!
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    1164 days ago
  • v FIRECOM
    What a touching story and so well written. I know it sometimes sounds shallow, but I am really sorry for your loss. We lost my wife's sister a year ago at Christmas due to a long and painful cancer.

    Again, please accept my sincere condolences.
    1164 days ago
  • v PROVERBS31JULIA
    Our empathy to you and your family. We've gone through the loss of my infant sister, grandparents, and recently my husband's parents. Have never (yet) experienced the loss of a sibling. It's truly a blessing that your families are relatively close by.

    1 Corinthians 15:51-52
    Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
    1164 days ago
  • v LENIASTY
    So sorry for your loss! emoticon emoticon Think of Debi still with you in your hearts - be happy for the time you had together...God Bless you all! emoticon
    1164 days ago
  • v PROVERBS31JULIA
    Our empathy to you and your family. We've gone through the loss of my infant sister, grandparents, and recently my husband's parents. Have never (yet) experienced the loss of a sibling. It's truly a blessing that your families are relatively close by.

    1 Corinthians 15:51-52
    Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
    1164 days ago
  • v JLLOVETT
    An earthly loss but a heavenly gain! God be with you and your family!

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    1164 days ago
  • v CAT-IN-CJ
    What a wonderful tribute to your sister and your family. Having been in your shoes three times in my life, I can relate in my own way.

    While my heart goes out to you and your family for your loss, I join with you in celebrating Debi's life.

    My father passed away 5 years ago after a similarly uncomfortable process, my mother, sister and myself were relieved that dad was no longer suffering. The 3 of us had a private gathering as a sort of graduation party to celebrate his life and the wonderful joy he brought to this world during his 81 years.

    May you find peace and healing in the process of settling her estate that lies ahead of you.
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    1164 days ago
  • v ILOVEFOOD590
    This blog post has touched me in so many ways! I am sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with your family.
    1164 days ago
  • v GEORGI1832
    Having shared the experience of losing a sister/friend to lung cancer and being with her until she passed from this world, I found myself so touched by this blog. You are a wonderful brother and certainly in the sadness of some of the coming days there will also be much joy in the memories and the comfort of knowing you were with her as she made her transition to another realm.
    Blessed Be.
    1164 days ago
  • v LIKINMENOW
    Going through a loss is NOT easy. However, knowing that your sister was not alone, plus quietly as well as peacefully passed on to her heavenly mansion gives all of you a peace and comfort. Yet, there will be those times you go through in healthy grieving that will let you know how much you miss her.

    I know that you, Gramie and Debi's daughters gave your sister the most beautiful gift anyone could give her---the gift of preparing her for her "Welcome Home" trip. She was at peace because everyone made her feel loved and the most important thing of all, you all allowed her to both know and feel that it was time to let go of this world. That is very touching and beautiful...you received affirmation of how much that gave your sister joy by her quiet, peaceful passing on.

    What a wonderful, inspiring blog. (Please know that I have worked with the dying and their families. So death is not death to me. It is a passing on to your eternal life of love, peace and joy.)

    My prayers are with you, Gramie & Debi's daughters.


    1164 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/21/2013 9:47:50 AM
  • v DNRAE1
    Bless you and your family and may good times and memories surround and support you all. I am so sorry for your loss.
    1164 days ago
  • v JLPEASE
    My sincere condolences to your entire circle of family and friends on your loss.
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    1164 days ago
  • v GRANDMABEAST63
    I am very sorry for your loss, my deepest sympathies to you, her daughters and your family. Thank you for sharing and your strength towards your sister and her daughters I am sure were immense comfort to all. Words are always difficult during this time, my thoughts are with you , sincerely. Josée
    1164 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/21/2013 9:06:46 AM
  • v HLOCHRIDGE
    I am sorry for your loss!!
    1164 days ago
  • v FROSTIERACES
    Your words have really helped me this morning with the losses I have gone through. Thank you for writing this blog. I am very sorry for your loss.
    1164 days ago
  • v GREENVALLEYS
    Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.
    Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my
    Supplications.
    If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who Shall stand?
    But there is forgiveness with
    Thee, that thou mayest be feared.
    I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
    My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the
    morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
    Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and
    with Him is plenteous redemption.
    And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
    Psalm 130
    My condolences to the family.


    Psalm 130
    1164 days ago
  • v BILLETWIFE
    I am deeply sorry for your loss, but so happy that your sister had such a wonderful support system around her as she transitioned out of this life. May God comfort your family
    1164 days ago
  • v CDCSMITH2013
    I am so sorry for your loss. IT seems your family all pulled together to make the best of an excruciating situation. You and your family will be in my thoughts.
    1164 days ago
  • v SFREY217
    Thank you for Sharing this difficult time in your life with us, reminding us that we are not promised a certain amount of time I this realm, and to love and appreciate the loved ones we have while they are here. Sending prayers of peace and comfort to you and your family.
    1164 days ago
  • v PAPAMIKIE
    Thank you all so much. I am truly touched by these response. I wrote this blog to share my experience with living and dying. I did not really expect it would reach out to so many. I am not sure that I will have time to reach out and respond personally to each of you. I hope you will appreciate that there are many other things that I need to take care of at this time.

    I therefore, thought I would take a moment and thank each of you with this general post. It has meant a lot to me to get all these comment, and kind words. I have read each, many I have read more than one.

    Thank you all again.

    Popie
    1164 days ago
  • v DRB13_1
    May your beloved sister rest in peace.
    1164 days ago
  • v LIFETIMER54
    So very sorry for your loss... emoticon
    1165 days ago
  • v KAYSON25
    Thank you for writing this blog. I am so sorry for your loss. I have gone through this very same thing with my youngest sister just last year. It is a nightmare that is inconceivable unless you have gone through it. It takes a strong person to be with a loved one and watch the life literally sucked from them. I pray God blesses you and your family.
    1165 days ago
  • v BLUEJEAN99
    emoticon emoticon
    1165 days ago
  • v ARMATTHAEI
    Death can be a hard, bur beautiful thing. I am glad that your sister was comfortable and had a daughter near her at the time of her death. I am also greatful that she and her girls got to celebrate a great Christmas.

    She is now pain free and any pain you feel will go with time. I love the idea of spreading her ashes on the lake that she so enjoyed.

    I wish you health & healing.

    1165 days ago
  • v WORKOUTWITHPAM
    I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.
    HUGS
    Pam

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1165 days ago
  • v KUTEY5041
    I am so sorry for your lost. I lost my mom to cancer 3 yrs ago. She had 6 months and made me promise to let her die at home. I was her only caregiver and took very few breaks away from her. Her last week, she was not thee either. I did the same as you, sat and talked to her. I know she could hear me talking. I lost my brother 9 months before her and he was really harder after only a 3 week sickness. It's a hard thing even though we know in our hearts that they are not suffering anymore
    1165 days ago
  • v ILIKETOZUMBA
    I am so, so sorry to hear about your sister's illness and passing. However, this blog was absolutely beautiful. Though it's a sad and difficult topic, you managed to be so reflective and peaceful about it all that in a way, it was an uplifting read as well. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, advice, and peace with us. It means a great deal to me that you would share something so personal; I am deeply touched by your sister's story. Debi clearly had wonderful family in her life and was surely a lucky woman in many ways. I will be thinking of her and of your family. Continue to take care, and God bless you all.
    1165 days ago
  • v JAMER123
    emoticon emoticon Deepest condolences to you & your family.
    Sending my thoughts & prayers to you all.
    emoticon emoticon
    1165 days ago
  • v MISSLISA1973
    I am so sorry for your loss.
    1165 days ago
  • v WINNIE-POOH
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    1165 days ago
  • v 610PEACH
    Your Zen, your focus on the cycle, and your reminder to be here, to be mindful and present, to live in what we have and inhabit our moments help me remember where I should "be" and how I should exemplify this for others. Thank you.
    1165 days ago
  • v MBEHNKEN
    So sorry.
    1165 days ago
  • v PCASEY7
    Deepest condolences to you and your family.
    1165 days ago
  • v CYPATAYLOR2
    So sorry for your loss. You, your family and Debi's family have my deepest sympathy. emoticon
    1165 days ago
  • v MIZZKINS
    Take care of yourself PapaMike. I am thinking of you. I lost my mom to lung cancer and few years ago. Love and light,

    emoticon emoticon
    1165 days ago
  • v KELSEY54
    Sorry for your loss! My thoughts and prayers to you and your family. emoticon
    1165 days ago
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