Saturday, April 13, 2013
The last few months have been more than trying. It has been a time of emotional, physical, mental, time and financial drain. I love how people attempting to help encourage one through a time period like this will lightly say "take time for yourself".
This has been a period of time where refills of prescriptions have slipped for days due to lack of time to pick them up and waiting a few days to combine with another errand to save gas money. I have short cut sleep to clean house and car. I've been eating stored food simple because I didn't have time to go to the market.
So my last blog focused on the passage of my father. Most of that has settled down, however I am still working of some details of the memorial service, like sending out recently announcements and starting to put together the order of service worship aid. Mostly this last month has been spent helping my mother. She still can't drive so taking her to doctors appointments, twice a week to a warm water therapy pool (yes sometimes I go in with her and walk laps which is wonderful), getting groceries and out for outing drives so she doesn't get cabin fever.
I've also been working with Cole, my almost grow puppy to try to regain on the training ground. He was alone a lot during the previous month unfortunately. He took to self entertainment/comfort by bringing in tree branches, digging up the back yard and chewing anything not put up high enough. He also reverted to going potty in one corner of my room where I put puppy pads when he was very small. I got his rawhide chews and toys, but the other behavior continued until I got it was about me. Coming home to a huge mess got me recentered around him. It was hard, but I had to learn to pretend there was no mess and not react at all. Then engage him in a positive game of playing with the ball and give tons of praise. The mess is less and he loves balls more and now has a token to give me at the door to say "hey remember ME". The potty training issue is harder as he was near perfect before and this seems literally his way of being pissed off with me. I've built a cedar clip pile in the back yard (what he went on as a pup) and keep moving stuff there and trying to spend more time around that area with him. I've contacted a professional trainer, but unfortunately both time and money have put this on hold because....
I knew my aunt who was living about 300 miles away from me was getting chemo for ovarian cancer, but with dad dying and mom needing help with the broken hip, it just wasn't possible to break away. So finally between doctors appointments I saw a window. My plan was to drive over there and sleep in my car or stay with my cousin and help him take care of her. But my mom didn't want to be left alone and wanted to come to get away. But next thing I know she wants to make it a vacation staying at high end hotels. I just can't afford that, as my only income is $400 from my roommate. I finally had to get a voice for myself and say no, my budget can't go over $400 gas and hotel and I was willing to split up to $40 a night and no more.
So by the time we were positioning to go, my aunt had been transferred to hospice and I was warned that I might not want to come as she was sleeping most the time. But I felt a deep duty to go. My mom and a agreed to leave at 7am on Wednesday. I arrived at her house and she was still in bed..so had to help her pack and while she got dressed ran her mail to the post office and got myself coffee. Then I drove with two 15 minute breaks to Spokane. I thought about finding a place to stay, but instead drove to the hospice house.
My aunt's skin was clean and smooth, but her breathing just the opposite. I've heard it before. The water gurgle that chokes life away with its drowning power. Her body was working so hard to force each breathe. So I sat and attempted to calm her petting her hair, telling her I wouldn't leave her and to relax and slow her breathing. For ten minutes it worked. She stopped gasping. Her body relaxed and she focused eye contact on me. I don't think she knew it was me, rather that she wasn't alone struggling. She closed her eyes more and her timing slowed more. I waited. Too long. She should be breathing! I checked her pulse as a nurse came in the door...nothing "I think she's passed". The shock of my loud voice in the quiet room had shocked my aunt to take a breath, which scared the heck out of me. So much for the easy Hollywood drama. The reality was a much slower process which took about 50 minutes...slow thready heartbeats followed by a sudden intake of air followed by more slowing. It started as eight beats a minute to four then just two very very faint beats a minute....before the last heartbeat was done her hands had already started to grow cold. It was at this moment that my cousin arrived, who had been summoned by the nurse. I waited for another beat and dared not speak for fear of starting the process all again. There was never the solid minute of transition as in all the movies rather it was a soft gentle release, breath slowed to the point of not being seen; a heartbeat so soft I had to question if it was my own, a slow drift of loss of heat and the startlingly awareness that the skin of her neck was no longer pliable rather unyielding to touch. Yet I sat there for a long time before I trusted that another breath might not suddenly wake her again. Then I smelled a faint sweet odor, it is an odor sometimes you smell in the hospital; she was gone. My cousin and I did the human thing of trying to close her mouth (without muscle tension it won't stay shut) and putting flowers in her hands as the funeral home was going to take about five hours to come and take her.
I spend the evening and next day at dinner and lunch talking about her life and plans for her funeral. In between we took strolls on the spring bloomed paths of nearly there green pearly everlasting, yolk yellow Oregon grape, clusters of Indian smoke pipe-like pinesap, clumps of lupine leaves, puccoon, spiked leaf butter cup -- then hundreds of purple and yellow alpine lilies. (Post Falls) On the drive home stopped at Ephrata where she had grown up and lived.
I'm home now and got reflecting. I've heard people question if God is good why is there sickness and evil in the world. It's a really good question. My life has been the rolling drama of sickness and evil. I can't talk to Godly motivations. That would be beyond me. What I do know is that challenging times bring out the looters and heros in all of us. Whether we look at a situation as one to harvest and grasp for ourselves or rise above and attempt to help a bigger picture. Over the last months, I have seen some real heroes. Not the type of things that get written up in newspapers, but the thoughtful timing of a nurse to get a son to a mother's bed side, a police officer that gave me a map and assistance finding the hospice location so I could be there, the clerk that gave me a hug of understanding....then there were the looters people saying that if my dad didn't accept Jesus he'd not gone to Heaven on the day he died (need to send them back to sells training), suggesting that it was a waste of time to see someone that was not able to be aware you were there (the heart has its reasons), the woman texting and weaving lanes for many miles making multiple people race around her to be safe.....
It is the small choices that effect others that transform our world.
It is the same message that Spark gives us to make the small consistent efforts towards a right path. Now I have a freewill choice. Will I be looter or a hero to my body today?