Already I had two scheduled days off this month for yearly appointments. So today finds me home with my thoughts.
Grief is an interesting beastie. No matter all the books I've read, and the grief roads I've walked, every one is different and apparently unavoidable and really tiresome. This round I have mostly felt so very tired except when I'm so mad and anxious. I know the sadness and missing part are likely waiting for me somewhere, but not yet. My head has hurt all week.
Not only was a job calling, but all that comes with this season. All of it seemed completely overwhelming to me, but I've just tried to tell myself, just get started, do what you can. I managed to get this school week done, another set of sub plans for today, and most of the mountain of work to be graded. I've never missed a week of school so never saw a week's worth of work in one pile. Wow. My eyes are tired.
So, on we go.
My holiday loving elves showed up on Saturday to decorate. Missy Bugg was in charge of the camera on this day.
And aren't upside down pictures fun.
So, now we have a tree, with the beloved faceless angel and all the others.
I'm reflecting on the situation, that last week. I think about some things that were so meaningful to me. I bring them here because I never want to forget to do for others what was done for me. I want to know and remember how to show up for others.
So very many people said, "Do you need anything?" some even said, "What can I do?" I know some people say that because that is what you are supposed to say. I know some people said it because they meant it. The problem- when you are in the situation, new, scary, pitiful, and on and on, you have no idea what you need or want. The immediate need was for people to sit with Mom and give us a break and so the grandkids and grandkid-in-laws did that until it had to be just the core group.
A nephew who worked at the hospital and stopped in to walk me to my car when the hour grew late.
Though we all made heroic efforts, with texts flying and lots of notes in the room, communication was still hard. The facility where she was located was not well versed in hospice care and our hospice service was in error placing my Mom and us in that situation. The right hand never knew what the left was doing and Mom paid the price, and the watching of her suffering was awful. As I mentioned before, I had three shifts of nurses that offered hospice care and those were resting uneventful days.
I appreciated an e-mail from Aunt Tish, reminding me that we were in this together and we'd see it through. By this time, we were becoming frayed for sure.
All that to say, I had texted Aunt Tish that Friday morning and said that someone who knew the drill had to be close till the end. So, Rae, knowing I couldn't leave came and sat bedside with her Granny right after we'd gotten Mom comfortable, while I took the boys for a tromp around the pond and woods outback. You forget how much you just forget to breathe and how tightly your jaw is clenched until you get out of the situation .
When we returned, she stayed until we got Mom comfortable again and Uncle Jimi came. He brought his Bible and told me he was going to read her the Christmas Story. Of course, I knew it would be her last earthly hearing of it, and next she'd be living it. Meeting that sweet Baby face to face. I went out with Rae awhile to give him some time . When I returned, Mom became very agitated. By this point, my anxiety was through the roof. I got the nurse. The one who did not know about hospice care, and did the do. Jimi and I sat on either side and squeezed her hand and sang her songs until she settled. Andrea came by to give me a squeeze and a chai latte. Again, I wasn't thinking that I wanted one, or wanted anything at point, but the sweetness of it, knowing it came with love and fervent prayers so touched me.
When you only have so many people for the caretaking, I didn't really get to spend many of those hours with a sibling. It couldn't be helped, but it all seemed easier if someone was with me. I've always blamed it on being the sixth of seven, never being alone, never having lived by myself. I was thankful for the time Jimi and I had with her. Later that evening, Jordan came. Mom was still relatively settled. I asked Handy Man if he wanted to come over and pick me up and get something to eat. I don't know how you know these things, but I just wasn't thinking I would be able to go home. I thought if he could drive by, pick me up, get some supper, drop me off, I wouldn't be gone long. I told Jordan if she as much as twitched to get the nurse and I knew he would.
While waiting, I sent another big e-mail to Teresa saying that I finally was able to think through what was needed and I wanted Mom's allowed medications to be administered each time she could have them, not "per patient request." We just had our food sat down in front of us when Jordan called to say the nurse wanted to speak to me on my return. My stomach was in turmoil and I couldn't eat so I asked the waiter to bring a container and the check. The manager obviously noticed this and scurried over to ask if everything was okay and I assured him the waiter was not encouraging our leave taking, but I needed to leave as soon as Handy Man finished. It was at shift change and the non-hospice nurse that I had sadly dealt with for four days of that week was no where to be found and Mom was again in some sort of agitation. At this point I was overwrought and I guess it showed. Teresa came and the charge nurse asked what she could do and so I recanted the day and just said this was not how I was told hospice would be and she was not comfortable and this was awful and somebody needed to do something. She was very attentive and did everything we asked, including trying to move Mom back to a private room. We didn't make it. We literally had her bed pulled out into the middle of the floor, when the nurse called us to her side. Aunt Tish on one side, me on the other, Jordan close by while we sang until she drew her last breath. And that sweet nurse and nurse's aid cried. Land's what a day for us all.
We went ahead and moved her into a private room. That sweet nurse brought food and drinks and we started making calls. I texted my friend, who's doctor husband had so kindly advised me through this ordeal. He called me. I'm sorry, I'm so old school. I like voices and it meant a great deal that he would take the time to call and to remind me that this was hard, but I had been a faithful daughter. For whatever reason, I needed to hear it. More kind messages came via text.
Handy Man and Rae were there. Though I've experienced this many times, it still is so strange. Sort of surreal. In that moment my heart was more broken for my niece, who had now lost her own mom, her husband, now her Granny and in the middle of a hellish medical ordeal of her own. Watching her heart break was heartbreaking to me.
Handy Man is never quite sure what to do with me in my distress, but he sure stands by to do any thing big or small that I ask.
Saturday I visited the florist and did the busy work assigned to me. That evening, Aunt Tish came to go through pictures and CD's and make decisions, texts still flying at this point.
I got an idea for tree of life and a teacher friend met me to take care of the names on the spur of the moment.
Drummer Boy took us to lunch and it was a good distraction.
Ol' Mother Hubbard came on Sunday and brought shrimp, biscuits and butter, a tribute to my Mom that I understood immediately. I wanted to make a funeral favor. Well, why not? I am my mother's child. So she sat and listened whilst I relived those last days and tied up little chocolate spoons as I dished them out.
Ms. Glitzy came in my room with a Big Red on Monday morning. She knows Big Red is my grieving drink of choice. She also knows to bring just one.
Ms. Bran brought a gift bag with salsa and chips and another favorite drink. So Handy Man and I had shrimp and salsa and chips for supper.
My principal stopped in to be sure if I wanted to be at school and let me know I could go at anytime.
And then the funeral, already recounted here. I loved each kind thing someone said about the service.
I couldn't help but reflect on the difference in Mom's funeral and my Dad's 18 years ago. It is hard to believe how we've changed as a society.
It was a hard day in some ways first off, and it was only a few hours on one day, as compared to an afternoon, whole day and morning funeral for Daddy. Also, the day before Thanksgiving. I surely knew many could not come, but somehow the desire is still there for those you know and love to get a glimpse of the life of one so very dear. I very much appreciate each person who came by, or came and stayed for the services.
Flowers and remembrances have become so expensive and my practical mind is actually glad that we've come away from doing so much of that. A lot of money for a very few hours. Still, I loved that Ceece sent the most beautiful pink and lavender rose bouquet that nestled perfectly in the corner. My mom would have loved it. I loved it.
The Captain came back in the evening to visit and to help us eat some soup and rolls that a friend brought to the service, before heading out of town to her own family's Thanksgiving hours away. Again, glad for the distraction, glad I had something to feed them
A call from a sister just saying, "How you doing?"
A card from friends to purchase something living to plant in my yard.
Another friend talking back and forth with me about a good choice of a tree.
Sweet cards from my school kids and garden stones. Cards that have trickled in every day. It is funny, I love every card and sweet sentiment. I have friend who's husband didn't like getting cards. Ah life.
Yesterday, Gwen sent me some cutest pictures of our Pixie because she remembered it was my usual bath day with Mom.
And all the folks who listen when I need to still talk about her, and don't act like it is an imposition. Thank you.
Okay, enough time setting these memories down. Things to do.
Advent is here, ready or not.