It was one week ago today that my dad died. He had health issues for several years, but the main turning point to his downward spiral was in July when he had knee replacement surgery. He did not respond well to the anesthesia. He went into a rehabilitation ward at a nursing home. He was released and was doing okay when a blood clot in his arm caused a major seizure. From there his health got worse and worse until he became a hospice patient. At this time, one week ago, my sister and I were sitting by his bed talking to him, telling him to let go . . . telling him to fly and be free. It was 7:58pm on the 14th and Freebird came on the radio. I told him to listen to the song. I told him if there was an exit song, this was the one. He listened. He died very peacefully. We almost couldn’t tell he stopped breathing. I know that there will be some more paper work and details to finish up, but I’ve spent the past 7 months living around a dying man . . . now I feel I can live my life more for me than him. We’re both free birds.
I think there is a fine line between acknowledging difficulties and wallowing in them. I think the line separating the two is the amount of time and energy spent focusing on the negative. Bad times are a part of life and help keep good times in perspective. When I started blogging, it was an outlet to help release some of the thoughts that I, all too often, allow myself to trap in my brain. I didn’t want to be one of those, woe-to-me type bloggers. I believe in acknowledging the challenges and then either finding solutions for them or redirect the energy to where it’s more productive.
The difficulties I am acknowledging today are; the stress of the upcoming move, the grief of not being able to see my fairy goddaughter as often after the move and the pain and frustration of waiting for my dad to die. The move will go well, I know this, but the to-do list has been gnawing at me and I’m allowing it to stress me out a bit. I know Makenna will be just fine before and after school, but I’m going to miss starting and ending my days with that brilliant little ray of sunshine. I love her so much. I’ll get more quality and less quantity time with her. I continue to wait for dad to pass away. I wish he would move on. He doesn’t walk, talk, eat or laugh. He is confined to either a bed or wheel chair. I want him to be at a place where he can be free.
So now that I’ve acknowledged the difficulties I’m facing, it’s time to get productive. The difficulties are still there, but I’m not going to wallow in them. I’ve had my shower. I’ve blogged my thoughts. Now . . . it’s time for coffee and redirection.
These past few months have been an emotional roller coaster. I’ve experienced everything from sorrow to giggle fits. Each emotion seems to have no predictable trigger. Today, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for not being there for my friends as much as I used to. I feel guilty for being angry at a dying man for “making us” pay his bills, clean his place and tend to his business affairs. Above all, I feel guilty for just wanting him to pass away. I am exhausted. I am tired of jumping when the phone rings thinking it’s going to be ‘the call’. A dog becomes a part of your family. When your dog stops eating, no longer takes any joy in activities it used to adore and is so lethargic it doesn’t move, you lovingly put your dog to sleep. We treat family pets more humanly than people. I feel guilty for thinking that, too.
So . . . what am I going to do about this self-imposed guilt trip today? I am going to distract myself by packing some boxes and running some errands. Our new house is almost done. By next weekend the contractors should be done with our home. I am so excited about the fresh start that is right around the corner. When we leave this place, we are leaving a lot of physical, emotional and psychological baggage behind. I don’t feel so guilty about that.
My brother spent this past week visiting us from Washington. He came into town because our dad’s health is still declining. He no longer eats and he no longer talks. We wanted our brother to have closure and say his good-byes. Every time we visited dad this week, he did not say a word. He would sometimes make eye contact with us, but he wasn’t responding to questions. My sister and I have said what we’ve wanted to say to dad and have piece of mind because of it. We wanted our brother to have that opportunity, too. He said what he needed to to dad, but he was hoping for some kind of response. Before taking our brother to the airport tonight, we visited dad again. He was still unresponsive. Just before we walked away my brother said good-bye. My dad, who hasn’t spoken for days, looked up at him and said, “I love you.” My brother said, “I love you, too.” It was the moment of closure we were hoping for. We continue to wait moment to moment for dad to pass, but we feel that we all will move on easier knowing that we’ve all had closure with him. Dad . . . fly . . . be free!
It has been years since I’ve taken multiple days off of work. My boss rides me really hard. She doesn’t give me vacation pay. She didn’t give me any days off over the holidays. She has me working 10-11 hour days 5 days a week. She hasn’t given me a raise in a long long time. Too bad I’m self employed.
I am taking next week off. When I told my grief counselor that I was being selfish and closing my child care for a week she reminded me that there is a difference between being selfish and self-caring. I cannot deny that the stress over the past few months has taken its toll. It’s affected my eating, sleeping and social habits. My batteries need to be recharged. I’m also taking next week off to spend time with my brother. Being in Washington, he hasn’t had a chance to fully deal with our dad’s condition. He is more of a workaholic than I am and has been keeping himself excessively busy. I think the reality of our dad’s illness will hit him pretty hard when he sees him. I want to be there for him. I am also going to schedule play time for him, my brother and my sister. There’s got to be some balance.
I am used to being there for other folks. It’s in my comfort zone to care for other people. I’m good at it. I just have to remember to balance things out a bit more and care for myself, too. When I get back from vacation, my boss and I are going to renegotiate my contract because she really does ride me too hard.
Thank you and good-bye.
I am saying good-bye to the house I grew up in. I am saying good-bye to some of my students. I am saying good-bye to my dad. I am a firm believer that growing pains lead to bigger and better things. Every time I’ve gone through tough times and difficult transitions it has always lead me to amazing and refreshing changes. Although 2010 ends with some bitter sweet farewells, it ends with the knowledge that the growing pains are going to lead to a successful, peaceful and joyful 2011. I wish this for myself, for my friends and for my family. So I thank the universe for all that it has given me, all that it has taken away, and for all the many wonders yet to come. So 2010, thank you yet again, and good-bye.
Do you ever have one of those days where you just wake up weepy? I went to bed a little weepy. I woke up weepy. I’m tired of weepy! My sister and I went to a grief counselor this week. She used a term I had never heard of before called compassionate fatigue. After reading into it, I discovered that she really hit the nail on the head. It may sound cold, but I’m tired of living around a dying person. It takes a lot of work and energy to manage someone else’s death. For those of you who have been through this before, bless your heart. For those of you who are going through it, no . . . you’re not crazy or over reacting. For those of you who are yet to go through it, allow yourself to feel every emotion because you’ll experience them all.
Today is dad’s birthday. Every year I make him peanut butter cookies. I am going to make them today with the kids. An edible art project. I’ll drop some off tonight. He may not eat them, but the hospice staff who stops in his room will find a plate of goodies. A friend of mine who had a major surgery a year ago said that if you leave treats out by your bedside, the staff will visit you more often. That’s what I intend to do as a birthday gift for my dad. Cookies = extra visitors . . . dang . . . weepy again.