Goodbye Sunday, May 13 2012 

We knew it would happen, and we knew it would happen quickly, but it was still difficult to get the news that my husband’s brother had passed away.  And now he has been gone since the beginning of February.   And our lives have just kept on going.   It is strange to have someone that close to you, a sibling, be gone and your life just keep going, almost like nothing has changed.

We have a family reunion coming up next weekend, and when we are in small town East Texas, we always visit the resting place of my husband’s parents, one set of grandparents, and one sister (that passed before my husband was born) and now his oldest brother.  The stone is in place.  It will be hard and confirm in granite the reality of what we know to be so rudely true.


Visit Monday, Jan 30 2012 

We drove over to visit my brother in law yesterday.  About four hours one way.  He is not doing well, and basically we’ve been told it is just a matter of time.  His body is failing, and the main goal now is to manage the medications so he doesn’t feel any pain.  He is in a facility, what in the old days would have been called a nursing home.  He has a semi private room.   It was pretty depressing.  Not just his situation, which was awful enough, but the whole place.  The people there.  It’s not the fault of anyone, the place itself was clean and as cheery as one can make a place full of very sick or incapacitated people.  What was depressing was the craving for contact that so obviously radiated from so many of the people.  We had our 4 year old grandson with us, and most of the people at the home reacted to a child being present.  He spoke to everyone as he walked by ‘hi’ on the way to the room, ‘bye’ on the way out, he roamed the halls, he found the entertainment room, which had a pool table in it and rolled the balls into the pockets as patients watched and smiled.  A tiny bright spot in the day perhaps.

My brother in law is no longer able to move around and made no effort to do so while we were there. He drifted in and out of sleep, mainly due to the meds, and would join the conversation with a comment from time to time.  He seemed to be aware of his surroundings, and who everyone was.  But he hardly ate at all, and from what I’ve been told, that has become the norm. I won’t list all the things are are going wrong.

Diagnosis August.  That is not so long ago, and here we are.  Watching him die. Were all those years of smoking worth this? A body riddled with cancer and pain?  It is easy to say the words that smoking causes cancer.  It is not easy to see the reality.  It is not easy to see the consequences of the action.  And I am certain it is not easy to experience it first hand, as he has too.  Quit smoking.

Wake Up Call Sunday, Aug 21 2011 

We made the drive to visit with my brother in law and his family and discuss how we could assist with all the things that need to happen as part of his financial needs and physical needs.  It was not a fun trip, and my stress level, even after returning home late last night remains at DEFCON 5.

If you smoke, stop.  If you have a loved one or friend that smokes, ask them (nicely) to stop.  Time to repair the damage is needed.  For my brother in law, there is no time.

Some families pull together in crisis, some do not.  Some try but are not successful.  The jury is out on how this family will be able to handle the downward pressure being applied to it. The baggage of the past interferes with the present, and adults frozen in immaturity by real or imagined slights react to pressure in unpredictable, unproductive and inappropriate ways.  In the midst of this chaos, a man tries to come to grips with the fact that his life will soon be over.  His regrets are plain to see and play out in the dysfunction that surrounds him.  It is heartbreaking.

What If It Was You That Got The Bad News….? Friday, Aug 5 2011 

It is like a bad made for TV movie. And yet it is real life.

We got a call early last week that my brother in law was in the hospital. He went to the emergency room due to a long bout with severe pain. We happened to be in East Texas for a funeral, the uncle of my husband and his brother, when the call came in. So instead of being 4 hours away, we were a little over an hour away driving time from him. Instead of heading directly home after the funeral service, we drove up check on him. Mike had already told us he was not up to attending the uncle’s service but we didn’t know (nor did he) that his situation was hospital bound. So many relatives had been at the service and passing through the area on their way home, that Mike was flooded with visitors all that afternoon. A true revolving door of visitors. It made the afternoon rough for those of us that already had received the news.

The tests being conducted had returned shocking results. Cancer. Lung and liver at the least, maybe esophageal. Inoperable. Just too may lesions in too many places. Aggressive. Has already spread to multiple organs. Needs more tests to determine where it started (Lung to liver? Liver to lung? Esophagus to lung to liver?) but regardless treatment would just prolong life a brief time, not cure the cancer. Pain management is the answer for the immediate and long term need.

As Mike’s two children, three of his siblings and some miscellaneous in-laws tried to absorb the news, emotions ran high. Everyone had an opinion on the course of action to take next. Very few in the group gathered near the same page of discussion. Even what to tell Mike was not agreed upon, as it turns out, he was not in the loop regarding the severity of the situation and his two grown children could not agree on a course of action. The hodgepodge group in the lobby of the hospital must have made a site to passersby. I doubt hospital staff was phased. They probably see it all the time. Dysfunction at its best. (Mike’s grown children are just a few years younger than my husband and I, and their relationship with the father has been on again off again for years.)

We are waiting on more testing results and trying to be optimistic. In the meantime, guess what? Our lives have not changed. We go about our lives just the same as we did the week before this news came to us. Meanwhile, four hours away, Mike is grappling with life and death decisions and getting the paperwork of his life, his ‘affairs’ in order. It is all so unfair.

There have been several occasions lately that have reminded me that I do not control when I leave this life. My husband and I happen to live just off a small state highway with a very high recent death toll on it and all the accidents have occurred within a quarter mile of our subdivision entrance. I met a friend’s friend at a party on a Saturday night. And she died the following Wednesday due to injuries from an auto accident. My husband’s uncle fell and hit his head in the bathroom and never recovered. Life is fragile in so many ways.

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