Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the end




I was standing at the sink running hot water into the side with the dirty dishes trying once again to get the kitchen cleaned up thinking I would be glad when all this was over, sad but glad. No sooner had that thought passed through my head when the phone rang.

He's...come now. Come now.”

I had been at my sister's most the day while their close friends came and went and had just returned an hour or so earlier. The pump on their well had stopped working and they had no water in the house. My niece's boyfriend was rummaging around in the barn looking for a volt meter to see if the pump was getting power. I dashed home to get ours when my sister called to say that Pete had found the problem, it was a loose wire. Earlier I had been indecisive about whether to stay or go, Mike's breathing had been very labored and shallow all day, but now that I was home, I decided to stay.

It only took five minutes to get there but he was already gone. He had skipped a breath, panted a few times, paused, panted a few more times and then nothing. He died with his wife and the two daughters he had raised as his own by his side.

It was two weeks. Two weeks from diagnosis to death.

I stayed with my sister and nieces. The hospice nurses came and called his death and called the funeral home but it would be two hours before they could come. My sister's friend Donna returned and stayed for a while but by the time they came for the body it was just the four of us. My sister couldn't watch them wrap and remove the body so I did it for her, finally standing on the edge of the drive watching until the hearse disappeared into the night.

Once home again, I couldn't sleep and slept poorly when I did finally close my eyes. Yesterday I was just so tired I did nothing but sit and read and nap. Our brother arrived yesterday evening as did Mike's son and I had meant to go over and greet them but in the end, did not. Plenty of time today for that. The memorial service, the celebration of his life, is tomorrow evening and then on Thursday everyone leaves for their respective homes leaving my sister alone in her house for the first time. I may spend the night with her. We'll see. Depends on what she wants.

So, I'm glad. Sad but relieved. The world does not stop, life does not stop. Things and people I have ignored for the last two weeks are clamoring for my attention but they can wait a few more days.


20 comments:

  1. So very sorry for your loss...busy next couple of days...then quiet...too quiet...so sad...

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  2. It is a huge thing to witness a death, to attend to those still living. It takes a tremendous amount of energy - physically, psychically and of course emotionally.

    Be very gentle with yourself, if possible, for the next little while. Sending you much love, sympathy, and good, clean energy.

    May he rest in peace, may your sister be gentle with herself as she moves through the first stages of grief. Many condolences to your nieces.

    Thanks for this beautiful post.

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  3. I am glad you are relieved. It is better that it happens quickly if it must happen at all.
    All the best.

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  4. How tragic. My condolences to you and your family, Ellen.

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  5. It is almost incomprehensible that while the worst happens ... the world goes on. While it boggles our mind, it must offer some consolation in its continuity, for us at a deeper level.

    Glad to hear you are taking care of yourself by getting home and getting rest, here and there. It takes so much energy to accompany and attend - especially when you do it with love.

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  6. I remember all too well those simultaneous feelings of relief and sorrow. It's hard to reconcile these two emotions that don't really seem like they belong together, but somehow you find that you don't have to. They just sort of flow around you like waves in the ocean, and carry you off in whatever direction they take you.

    My heart goes out to you, your sister, and the rest.

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  7. I felt the same way when my mother died - she had suffered for so long. If there was no hope of recovery (and there wasn't), then she should be released from that pain. Hard for us though.

    I was at work when daddy called to say she had finally gone. After a few tears I continued what I was working on. I wanted to finish it before I left to go home. It was surreal & comforting to be doing that familiar task with fresh loss.

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  8. Thinking of you ...
    So, been there and know all too well how it goes.

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  9. I too was relieved when my husband died. Relieved he was no longer suffering, relieved that I was no longer burdened.

    It's lovely that you can be there to attend to your sister. Sometimes it's hard to take care of yourself...So I'm directing you to rest, reflect, give yourself time to process and grieve.

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  10. So sorry Ellen, thoughts and prayers go out to you, your sister and family.

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  11. What a sad journey you've been on, it can't have been easy. Take care of yourself, too.

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  12. That is such a brief span, from diagnosis to his passing. I wish you and your sister, all of you, the time and space you need to absorb what has happened.

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  13. I wish you and your family peace, Ellen. I'm sending my best, healing thoughts your way. And a hug.

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  14. It is so incomprehensible...the loss and the relief. Time is the only measure that will heal it. My thoughts are with you, your sister and your entire family. Peace. Linda

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  15. So sorry for the loss, but it was good that family had a chance to say goodbye. It is good that his suffering has ended.

    Your sister will need you now.

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  16. ellen i've learned so much through the writing of this experience. about you. about life and death. there are so many echoes and then so many experiences i've not connected to - yet. i wish you and your family goodness. the gentlest of transitions. steven

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  17. My sincere condolences, Ellen. May angels receive him.

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  18. The passing of a loved one is is such a difficult time. Keeping you and your family in my prayers. Hugs, Marguerite

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  19. Sorry for your loss. It will take awhile to get back into normal life, but that's OK. Take your time. Your sister is blessed to have your support. Hang in there and don't forget to take the occasional break and let others help you as you are helping your sister.

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  20. Our thoughts are with you sweetheart. If there is anything I can do or you just need a shoulder/ear/email - you know where to find me.

    Please give my best wishes to you sister. I am so, so very sorry.

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