conversations…

We converse with other people all the time…

Sometimes those conversations are long…sometimes short…

Sometimes they have great meaning and import…other times, not so much…

Many of them, we forget…

But then, there are those we will remember for the rest of our lives…

 

Me:  I love you, Mom…

Mom:  I love you more…

Me:  I love YOU more…

Mom:  I loved you first…

 

I really miss having that (almost daily) conversation with my mom…

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one year ago today…

One year ago, at this very hour, I was sleeping in my mother’s “easy chair” right next to her bed… there was a hospice nurse in the room, who was keeping an eye on mom… and mom was in her last hours of life on this earth.

In just a few hours, at about 8:10am, I would be awakened by the nurse, as she said…

I don’t think your mom has much longer to live.

…and I would stand up from the chair, turn and look at mom, and realize she had just taken her last breath.

It is hard to believe that a year has gone by since that day… and that now, she is with me only in heart and mind and memory…

Yet I know that mom is at peace, resting in the Lord’s Presence, and that there will come a day when I will see her again… (and dad… and Lemmy… both of whom got to heaven ahead of mom… I’ll see them all again)…

I miss all three of you…

I love all three of you…

two weeks and one lifetime ago…

As of tomorrow, it will have only been two weeks… yet it feels as though it has been a lifetime since it happened…

Since Mom died…  Since Mom stepped through Death into Eternity… and really began to live…

Life…    Death…    then Life again…

Life forever… for all of time and beyond what we can even imagine…

For our time on earth is not marked the way God’s time in Eternity is marked…

Our time is determined by the rotation of the earth (day and night) and its revolution around the sun (seasons and years)…  it is the only way we can understand time… it is in fact the way God gave us to understand and mark the time of our mortal lives… But God’s time is eternal and not dependent on such things such as days and nights and seasons and years…

Mom’s time has changed… her time has become eternal…

I’m still stuck in the earthly time of the here and now… seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years… determined by the earth and its relationship to the sun… at the moment, taking things one day at a time… and some days it feels as though I am just going through the motions…

I’m glad that Mom is no longer bound by her mortal body or mortal timekeeping… I’m glad that she will no longer get old (perhaps I should say older… she was already old the way we measure time and think of age…) or sick or experience pain or sadness… I’m glad that she has been re-united with her friends and family members who died, who entered eternity, ahead of her… I’m glad that she is living in the Light and Life of the Lord…  And I know I will see her again one day…

But for now…

I miss her…

Not All Christmas Memories are Happy Ones…

Tuesday, 1/25/2011

The Call

Got a call today from University Village…  Dad has been sent to the hospital (UCH)…  “Why?”  “He isn’t real responsive… you know he hasn’t been eating or drinking a lot lately… we think he’s just dehydrated.”

Talked with Joe…  set up paperwork for Family Medical Leave stuff and left work early…  Called Harrell to go sit with Dad in the ER… left work to get ready and go to Tampa…  Something tells me I need to go…

Dropped my cell phone – can’t see anything on the screen… seems to still be working, but can’t really tell cause the screen is black…  of all days for this to happen!!  I need a working cell phone!!  Stopped by a Verizon Wireless place on the way home…  got a brand new cell phone…  they were so nice, just replaced the whole thing…

Continuing home to get packed and leave…  saw (Pastor) Tony’s car at church… stopped to let him know I was leaving and ask for prayer…

Home…  packing…  dogs going with me…  oh yeah, gotta call Penny…  need to arrange to get keys to her house…

Almost packed and on the way…  ER doc calls…  “How aggressive should treatment be for your dad?” (or something like that)…

“How serious is this?”

“He has had a serious heart attack…  his blood count is very low…  I’d give him a transfusion, but I don’t think his heart could handle it…  he almost kicked me when I touched his abdomen…  kidneys are failing…”

Yep, this is serious…  and at University Village they thought dad was just dehydrated??!!

“Dad is a DNR… and he does have an aortic aneurism that they have been watching for years… at this point in time, what do you think, doc?”

“I think the less done the better for him…  let’s see what happens.  Probably won’t explore the aneurism too much.”

“Ok…  and the man that is sitting with dad now is a family friend…  you can tell him anything you’d tell me…”

Ok…  gotta get in to Tampa…  gotta get Mom to the hospital to see dad…  he is probably dying…  car is packed…  on my way…  stop for gas…

Call Iris to go sit with Mom til I get there…  tell Iris what is happening…  called Mom to let her know that Dad has had a heart attack and is being admitted to the hospital and that I am on my way…  she doesn’t understand what I am saying…  I asked the nurse to tell her…

“You want me to tell her THAT??”

“Yes!  And tell her I am on my way.”

Call Penny and let her know what is going on… Penny is still in St. Pete (at work), but will get home about same time I will…

Got to Penny’s…  unloaded stuff and dogs…  I am glad I brought Buster and Nugget…  it almost feels like they are the only constant in my life right now…  I feel as though I will need their physical presence with me…  dogs are good “people” to talk to…

Got to University Village…  Iris and Raul are with mom…  I tell her Dad has had a heart attack and been admitted…  does she want to go to the hospital to see him?

“Yes.”

Get her to car, and on the way, I call Harrell to find out where Dad is…  he has been admitted and is in a room… cardiac progressive unit or something like that…

We get up there and into Dad’s room… and the waiting begins…

Iris and Raul are with us… and Harrell stays with us…  I walk out of the room, and Harrell comes with me…

“You know what you’re looking at, don’t you?” he asks me…    “Yeah, I know…”

I do know…  Dad is dying… don’t know how long it will be…  I call Celeste and Dena to let them know what is happening…  it is hard to tell them that Dad is dying…  they can’t get here, but would want to know…

Call Gerry to let her know what is happening…  Aunt Pina lives with her…  she needs to come see him…  tonight, I think…  I don’t tell Gerry that she has to come tonight, but she understands…  Gerry and Aunt Pina get there in a short time…

Gerry has also called others, and Billy and Sandy come to visit (say good-bye, without saying good-bye)…

By 10pm or so, Billy and Sandy, Harrell and Millie, Gerry and Aunt Pina, Iris and Raul, and Mom and I are there…  Dad is conscious and able to talk…  but not fully…  and as time goes on, he begins to drop off little by little…  well it is getting late at night…  is Dad getting sleepy?  or going into a coma, to then slip away to heaven?

Mom keeps talking with him….

“Honey, honey… do you know who’s here?”

“No… who?”

“There’s Iris and Raul and Harrell and Millie and Gerry and Pina and Billie and Sandy and Jonelle and…”

“Well, I’ll be damned!!!”

And everyone in the room cracks up laughing… mom is scandalized…

“Have you ever heard him talk like that??!!”

And we laugh…

People have to leave…  it is late…  Harrell will stay with Mom and me…

the waiting continues…

 

Wednesday, 1/26/2011

Dad is in Heaven

Mom has been awake all night…  and except for when she needed to go to the bathroom, she has sat by his side, holding his hand and looking into his face…  she has not slept…

Dad finally dropped off to sleep last night…  I don’t think he will wake up on this earth again…

Harrell has slept off and on, and I have dozed off for very short times…  but not really gone to sleep…

Eight in the morning and both Harrell and I try to get Mom to go back to University Village to change clothes or get her meds…  she won’t go…

“I am not leaving his side!”

So that’s that…   we continue to wait…  Harrell goes home and tells me to call…  he needs to sleep a little, shower and change clothes…

Gerry and Aunt Pina come back…

We continue to wait…  Mom sits by his side, and continues to look lovingly into his face…  Dad’s breathing is calm…  Dad is peaceful… I know Dad will not wake up again…  I just don’t know how long it will be before he takes his last breath…

At around 11:25am, Dad takes his last breath…  I did not look at the clock to be sure of the time…  but I know it was about that time based on the time of the phone calls I made…  to Harrell, to Celeste, a text (“Dad is in heaven”) to Pastor Tony, to Dena (did I call Dena, or did Celeste?  Not sure), to Iris, to “Pastor” Michael (he shows up, has a prayer with us, sits for a short while and leaves… he has never really been a pastor to my parents), to Adolpho (funeral guy)…

Mom is glad that Dad is at peace…  Aunt Pina says that she did not expect to outlive her little brother… I am sad… have cried some… know that more tears will come over time…

Mom is not ready to leave the room… the hospital personnel tell us we can have as much time as we want…  others besides Michael (who did not stay for too long), have come, but I don’t remember who now…  I think Harrell came back…  maybe Iris…  Gerry and Aunt Pina are there…

Dad is in heaven…

And in an instant, a person becomes a memory…

The Gifts of Grief…

During the summer of 2011, I participated in a unit of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education).  Each week our small group would gather together to explore different concepts that were a part of our learning.  Grief was one of the topics that we explored, and grief was something that I was also personally struggling with… something I’d been struggling with for many years.  I wrote the following short reflection after watching a video entitled “The Gifts of Grief”… and after I wrote it, I realized that I had found an image I could use that would help me in my struggle with grief… not only past grief, but that which would come in the future.  I share this reflection with you… it is part of the story of my life:

Grief brings gifts?  I am not sure that I have found any specific gifts coming from my grief…as the people in the video have.

At this point I know that my deepest grief comes from Lemmy’s death.  It is a deep, deep well, full of pure sadness and loss.  It cannot be analyzed, evaluated or explained away…it just is.

The grief of other losses add to it…they add to this “well”…they broaden it and deepen it even more…until all losses, all griefs merge together and overflow the boundaries of the “well”.

I find myself approaching the edge slowly, especially as I am now dealing with events happening in my mother’s life.  Where is she on her journey through life?  Is she getting close to final, physical death…or just getting closer to losing one thing at a time…to dying “little by little”?

And I am not really sure if I want to approach this “well”.  I get close to the ever changing edge…I back away…maybe I should want to dive in and swim deep, but all I want to do is to escape…

And I wonder, because I am not sure if I can dive in and swim deep until my mom does finally die…