Categories
Opinion

Tired and Sad

7 years ago, November 3rd, my mother died.  She had a disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy.  If you want more detail on that, there are other postings you read.  People told me I would learn to live with it.  I have, truly.  It got easier day by day.  But what hasn’t gotten easier is dealing with things that would have been easier to handle if she were still here.

In the past 7 years, several things have happened.  I have been diagnosed with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (something I inherited from her), Thyroid cancer, lost both my ovaries (one by emergency surgery, surgical menopause hurray!), nearly lost my Dad to infections (twice), you get the picture.  I could go on.  Next week, I have my annual mammogram.  Since my surgery in April, I have been having discharge from my right breast.  I’ve had several tests, and all have been negative.  I was misdiagnosed with my liver disease for nearly three years, so I am not exactly feeling very confident.

So when I was driving home tonight from work  (oh yeah, throw in a new job into that mix, one with a commute), I was looking at the sunset, the lovely fall sky and there it was.  My Mom.  It wasn’t the overwhelming grief of old.  It was something far deeper.  A deep, throbbing ache, that made me close my eyes, grimace and almost run off the road.

So, besides the catharsis of letting all this out, what is the point of this post?

I would like to say I have an uplifting, “feel good”, conclusion to all this.  Frankly, I don’t feel very uplifted these days.  My life has gotten very complicated.  I have little to no energy when I get home.  I have had moments where I can’t even get enough thoughts together to deal with anything.  I’ve been told my thyroid meds may be off.  But then again, a doctor tells me its fine.  Yet another thing to fight for.  I am tired of fighting.  I’m tired of struggling.  I’m just tired.

So, I guess the point of this post is to say, despite what people tell you, there will be days when you are just sad.  You don’t need medicine for it, you will just be sad.  I’m tired and sad.

Maybe one day I won’t be.  But today it feels like it will never end.

 

 

Categories
Opinion

“The Suicide Tourist”

The other night, I watched a documentary on PBS’ Frontline program.  The show was called “Suicide Tourist”.  It portrayed the struggle of Craig Ewert, a middle-aged man that contracted ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  His disease progressed rapidly, as ALS is wont to do.  In three months he was already on a ventilator.  For those of you that do not know what ALS is, it is the wasting away of the muscles in the body.  This includes all muscles, the heart, the lungs everything- but your mind remains intact.  Its not uncommon for people to end up on machines, not even able to blink their eyes, but be literally trapped in a shell of a body.

Mr. Ewert chose to go to Switzerland, helped by an organization called Dignitas, to assist in ending his life.  The documentary followed his decision, how his family reacted, and the eventual ending of his life.

To preface, I watched this while my mother, who was dying of disease very similar to ALS, was still living.  I watched it again on Tuesday night.    Though I recommend this program as a naked examination of the process someone goes through to get to this decision, I don’t recommend it if you are not able to handle it.  It does show Mr. Ewert die.

So after the program I ventured online to read the comments on PBS.org’s site dedicated to this program.  The comments, overall, were better thought out than most that I see on websites that welcome comments.  But there was much about the program and the people’s reaction to it that disturbed me.

Let me state at the outset that I am not in favor of or believe in suicide as a solution to anything.  As a Christian, I believe it is a sin to take out of the hands of God the decision of when you are to die.  But I am not a hyprocrite.  I do know that I daily take out of the hands of God things I should not.  So I don’t believe I am somehow more righteous than others because I don’t believe in suicide.  Sin is sin, not matter if its gossiping, taking the Lord’s name in vain or taking ones own life.

However, what disturbed me was the way that Mr. Ewerts family seemed to easily allow him to do what he wished without even suggesting alternatives.   He was a former college professor who had decided to live abroad after he retired, his wife in tow, who was getting her PHD late in life as well, was an agnostic and obviously well educated.  But, as with many in our society that rise to the level of “education” that he had achieved, they think that their lives end at our last breath and that he is in control of everything.  When he lost that control, it was easier to say adieu.  I am speaking as one that watched a loved one die of a disease very similar to this one.  In the documentary, his wife didn’t say once that she didn’t want him to do this, even when he said he was scared.  When he said he didn’t want his children present, because he would continue to talk to them and not want to go through with it, didn’t the children say, ok then I will come, because I want you to live longer?

I can hear the shieks now.  That would be for them, not him!  He is dying a horrible death and in his own words ” I have the choice of death or suffering and death.  I choose the former.”  I talked to my mother about this documentary after I watched it during one of our many heart felt talks those last months.  She said she found it selfish and could never do such a thing.  This was a woman who needed help to facilitate her bowel movements and couldn’t swallow without choking.  This was a woman who had taken “mustard” (the stuff the nazis gassed the Jews with in the camps) in liquid form through the veins in her feet as a cancer treatment.  If anyone was ready to die many times, I’m sure it would have been her.

As I watched it again, post her death, I felt sadness for Mr. Ewert that only someone who has been on the front lines of these diseases will ever know.  I knew why he was doing it.  Any rational person would choose it.  But when something like this happens to you, rational isn’t enough.  There is more to us than a body with a disease.  We have souls-something Mr. Ewert flatly said he didn’t believe.  I was sorry for him because of that, not just his ALS.    Just because you didn’t believe it, sir, doesn’t make it false.  He said he would hope for the best, if he was wrong.  Isn’t that something we shouldn’t leave up to chance?

Then there were the comments.  So many people were angry at those that didn’t support his right to choose this.  Unfortunately, there are those in power in this world, that would love to Euthanise those that are considered a “burden” on society.  The mentally infirm, the physically ill.  This is why many are so upset about the health care debate.  You’ve heard of the “death panels”?  If it were up to the government to decide who gets care and who doesn’t depending on a line on a graph, my mother would have died years ago.  So when I see people commenting that everyone should have that right, and we should have it legal here,   I wonder if they really think these things through.

I could go on and on, but I won’t.  I get why Mr. Ewert did what he did.  But as he sipped the medication that was going to end his life to the strains of Beethoven and his wife patting his hand, I felt a little sick.  Sick that he had to go through it and sick that he felt he needed to do it.

And I wept.

Categories
Opinion

One Fine day: A venting post for Sunday

You live day to day.  Getting out of bed, going to work, going to church, doing tasks.  You go to the grocery, you talk to people, you answer emails, you pay your bills.    The list could go on and on, but suddenly, on one fine day, the sun is shining-you feel pretty good about yourself and the world and….WHAMMO!!!!

You look around your home, your office and even your car and you start to see all the things that your loved one touched, gave you are talked to you about.  You reach for your cell phone and want to tell this person about the great joke you saw on the Internet that day, or ask them how they made that special you dish you liked.  You see the flower they made you standing in your office, still dripping with the love and attention that this person took to make it special and nice.  You realize that the love that person gave to you in this life will never be duplicated.   Then the doubts start.  Did I really listen to everything they had to say the weeks leading up to their death, or did I simply dismiss them as the ramblings of a degenerating mind and not really take to heart what they said.  Did they resent that when they stepped over the river to take the hand of God?  Did they think, why wasn’t she there with me holding my hand as I died?  Why couldn’t she be there as took that last breath?

As you can see, these aren’t just the doubts of some random person, they are mine.  I wasn’t with my mom when she died.  I wasn’t with her every minute as she went through the “process”.  That is a guilt I will take with me the rest of my life.  But as my husband so sagely said, “your cup was full”  you couldn’t take another minute of the pain.  That is why I was stepped in and the rest of the family did to let you and your Dad deal with it how you could.   My husband was with my mom when she died, so was my dad and the hospice nurse.  Not me.  Not the person that was intended for that.  Not the person that my mom showered so much love on her entire life.  Not the person that, in her own words, was the reason she kept living when she had cancer as a young woman.  I know my Mom isn’t in heaven right now sitting around with my Grandmother and Grandfather saying how disappointed she is with me or how heart broken she was that I wasn’t there. My mom wasn’t that type of person in life, so why would she be that type of person in death?   But, to me, I know I hurt her by not being physically present and this is a hurt and pain I deal with on a daily basis.

Grief is funny.  It isn’t like any other thing you will ever go through.  It hides and relaxes, taking a nap for months on end, then it appears out of nowhere and decides it wants your attention again.   One of my friends mentioned that it wasn’t the daily pain it was the emptiness.  That is what it is.  Emptiness.

I have a full life, don’t get me wrong.  I live daily with the love of Christ, my family and friends.  I have a good job that takes my time and a church family that is supportive and loving.  But its what the veterans call the “empty chair”.  It’s when I go to the Chinese restaurant with my Dad and my husband and they say table for three?  No!  It should be table for FOUR!!  Its the anger I get when I hear someone chatting about how they went shopping with their mother over the weekend, they called their mom and she said this or that.  My mom was only 65 years old!!  I was supposed to be having silly conversations with her, decorating Christmas Trees, going shopping and laughing about the stupid stuff my dad does sometimes for at least another 20 years!  My dad shouldn’t be going from room to room in a house dripping with her essence wondering what he will do that day that will take his mind off the searing loneliness that is permeating his life!  It isn’t fair!!

Sigh.  Sorry, I had to say that.   Years ago, I wondered if I would lose my mind when my Mom died. She hadn’t been what a normal person would call “well” for decades.  We knew her death was not that distant of a possibility.   I wondered if I would collapse mentally, have to quit my job, and retreat into myself for years.  I would lay awake at nights wondering what it would be like.  When that didn’t happen, and life sort of went on, I thought, wow, this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  And, for the most part, it really hasn’t been.  But there are days, even weeks, where I wonder if I can put one foot in front of the other.  As with most people, I hide myself in busyness.  But the body can only take so much before it says “no” and you must rest.  I had thought about taking a leave from work, but what good would that do I wonder.  Work has kept me focused and given me something to direct my energies.  I don’t think that is a solution.  Running away from life, is never a solution-only a temporary respite.

So, as I felt the world crashing in on me yesterday I felt the still, small voice of God saying.  Come to me and I will give you rest.  Take my hand, sit down and just be quiet.  So that is what I did today.  My husband had to work 7 days this week and he is asleep in the other room.  There is no TV on, no Radio, no IPOD, no sounds but his distant snoring and the occasional irritated meow from my cat as he insists I come back to bed with him.  Tomorrow is a holiday, so I have it off too.  I intend to slowly listen to what the Lord is going to say to me, in the quiet of my home.  I will listen as I have never listened before.

Every persons walk down the grief trail is different.  This, just happens to be mine.

Categories
Opinion

Happy Easter, for real

Easter means many thing to people.  For some its an excuse to gorge on chocolate a peeps (a personal favorite).  For some its a time for family, fun and watching the Ten Commandments on TV.  (This was mostly what my childhood was like, mind you.)

But something happened to me a couple of years ago when I went to Wal-mart the day before Easter.  I needed some ingredients for a supper I was making for my Mom and Dad.  I had no idea that this would be the last Easter I would spend with my Mom.  But that’s another story.  As I walked into the super store, people were running around crazily, buying baskets, ribbons, and chocolate.  Stuffed bunnies were stacked along with stuffed chicks in carts and people were nearly running each other over to get the now discounted items before the big day.

Normally I would ignore all this chaos and just go get my spices and get out of there.  But a feeling overwhelmed me and I nearly broke into tears in the middle of the aisle.  These people don’t get it.  They really, really don’t get it.  Now, don’t me wrong, there could have been Christians in there getting bunnies and baskets and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that aspect of Easter.   But I didn’t get the impression as they hoarded their peeps that they cared very little about the empty tomb, the cost and sacrifice that was given to allow them the chance to get more from life than a box of sugar covered marshmallows.

The point to all this isn’t that people don’t really get it.  You already knew that.  The point was that it bothered me.  It really, really bothered me.  So either I have grown up and suddenly loved mankind more or God has finally penetrated the crunchy candy exterior around my heart.  I am thinking the latter, because frankly, as I get older I dislike people more under my own power.  But with God’s influence, I love them more.  Freaky huh?

So, I got my stuff, and drove home to my husband who was mystified at my tears streaming down my face as I carried in my little plastic sack from “The Walmarts”.

I told him what happened and he smiled at me.  I told him it wasn’t funny, but he said he didn’t think it was funny, he just thought it was something he would never see from me.  Back story, as a group, people annoy me.  I yell when I drive.  I call people names on the TV that are stupid.  I have a real problem loving thy neighbor.  So, yes, this was miraculous.

So as you eat your peeps (still ok with them by the way), watch Ten Commandments, and watch your kids color Easter eggs, please remember that a divine being decided that all us annoying people, those that yell at people when they drive, fight over discount chocolate at “the walmarts” and watch too much reality TV, are worth saving and loving.  This particular divine being became a person like us, that more than likely felt like yelling at stupid people (since he was divine that meant everyone), smacking his disciples around and saying FIGURE IT OUT, but acted perfectly and lived a sinless life.  Then, get this, he LET the Jews and the Romans, beat him up, strip him naked, drag him through the street and nail him to a cross so we would have the chance to not be stupid people in God’s eyes.  He, on purpose mind you, because he could have stopped all this at any time, died and  went into the tomb for three days.  I hate going into funeral homes, let alone going into a grave, on purpose.

He did it for us.  For the woman that yells at her kids at the walmarts, for everyone.

That is what Easter is all about Charlie Brown.