Friday, August 28, 2009

My head hurts (+ a bit of good advice)

My head hurts, and I'm warning you that yours might too, by the end of this post. Feel free to come back another day, this isn't a feel good entry.

It's been a rough week, and the next few weeks won't be easier. Hospice, last week, informed us that Teri has about 4 weeks left. 10 days have passed since that estimate was passed on to us. We trimble more with every passing day.

Tim is home now, caring for her. His employer has sent him home, with pay, for as long as she needs him. (Let's hear it for Mac's.) We marvel over the care he gives her, holding her vomit bucket, donning gloves and spreading nausea medicine that absorbs into her skin, and doing whatever else she needs done.

Clint and I took Brian and Mom to see Teri on Wednesday. She began throwing up almost as soon as we arrived. It is hard to know what to do; we don't want to flee the scene when the vomiting begins, but we also want to give her whatever space she needs. When there seemed to be no end to it, she asked us to leave. Apologizing: She was apologizing and we were apologizing, and Tim was apologizing, and good Lord, we all know that apologies are ridiculous but we are all just so damned helpless and sorry.

I have not come right out and told Mom the final prognosis. Neither do I lie. Teri's condition is not entirely lost on her. She is distraught, and asks, after visiting: Does Teri take any medicine? When I say yes, she says "Oh, good, I hope it makes her better." Eight months ago, we would have all replied, "we hope so too," but I now steer her elsewhere, telling her that meds make the pain go away, but they do not make the cancer go away. She cries. Can HER doctor help Teri? I tell her no. She cries more, and I tell her it's ok to cry, that I cry too.

It has just occurred to me, just this week, that I will be unable to shield my mother from this, and that it would be best if I stopped putting energy into figuring out that particular solution. Did you know I'm not really Super Woman? I forgot.

A crisis of this magnitude is bound to creep into one's relationship. Clint and I are both a little edgy these days. As I do for my Mother, Clint tries to fix all things awry in my life. He has kicked himself for not coming up with just the right words, at the same time that I'm not looking for words, just open arms and a t-shirt to sop up some tears. I, in the meantime, cancel all plans for the next 3 weeks, and shake off guilt at asking Clint to do the same, for me. I need him here...because I need him here...and that's the only reason I can give. So. He's here. We forge ahead, together.

And here I am. I don't know what to do, don't know whether to call or drop in or ride shotgun or let them rest. I just hover, calling every day to offer to shop or cook or visit, and in the meantime, leave myself open for direction. I'm still shaking, and still crying and still howling at the moon...but I'm here, waiting to do whatever I might be called to do.

I only have one more thing for today: Some advice.

Good Advice:

Remember a few weeks ago, I mentioned a few things you could do or say to comfort someone? Well, my niece and I got together and vented the other day, and we both agree that there are a few things that you should not say while trying to comfort someone that's losing a loved one:

Do not, I repeat, never, never say:

"This is all for the best."

Really? Would you care to explain how that could possibly be true, you stupid jackass?

Also, don't say:

"There's a reason for this."

As if cancer, and losing a loved one is all part of a grander scheme that one of us someday stands to benefit from? And all we have to do is wait for it? Are you even listening to yourself?

Those are The Big 2, but while you're at it, go ahead and leave out "This is God's plan." At a time when we're struggling with our faith, it doesn't endear us to God one bit. Maybe giving you a big fat bloody lip is God's plan too, howz about that?

Ok, maybe we aren't running around handing out fat lips, but there have definitely been moments that we've fantasized about it. It makes us forget about our headache.

Sigh.

We are...simply...here.

_______________

For those of you that are asking me what you can do for Teri & her family, I simply am at a loss. Many people have been bringing them food, and stocking their freezer, and it has been very much appreciated. Shopping and cooking are chores they don't need right now.

In this light, it has occurred to me that gift cards to restaurants that carry out may come in handy. When thawing and reheating may be too much at the end of some days, sending one of the kids for a hot meal may be a relief. If you have questions, hit me up, ljstewart@gmail.com

I simply don't know what else to tell you right now. When I think of something, I'll post it here.

Much love.

L

16 comments:

  1. Whenever I am informed something is God's plan, this is my response:

    That may be true, however God has not seen fit to explain this plan to me and I don't like it. So long as God reserves this right to not explain, I reserve the right to not like it.

    People don't say that to me much any more.

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  2. Anonymous3:22 PM

    I do not kknow what to say except that Teri is a beautiful woman and I am glad that I am related to her! You are a wonderful sister and daughter and I am glad to be related to you! Please know that people love you all and only hope that your pain can be eased a little by knowing that. We are praying for ALL of you!!

    Christa

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  3. Anonymous3:36 PM

    I wish I could say that my tears for you have a SWEEP variable involved but they do not b/c the smile half of that equation is absent. I don't know why we fall back on apologies but we do. My first inclination was to say, "I'm sorry you are going through this. I'm sorry your sister has had to endure so much. I'm sorry that you have to try to explain to your mother's failing mental state something you cannot explain to yourself." There is no doubt the needle is buried on the right side of the Suck-O-Meter. I guess when we're in the dark, we strive to find the slightest pinhole providing any amount of light. Perhaps the fact that Brian is home and was able to see Teri can provide that. Thank heaven you've got your Mom's house somewhat in order so that provides a little relief as you prepare for the upcoming month. You've settled into your country casa so you can find a small moment to escape with coffee and birds. Hold onto the little cracks of light. Eventually, their scope will widen until you are in the sun again. Much Love,
    Angela

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  4. can I just say that it sucks, the whole thing really sucks, sucks, sucks! (as she pounds her fist on her desk)

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  5. I am forewarning you that your mother will have the most difficult time of all of you at the end of this. Watching a child suffer and losing them is very, very difficult for any parent, let alone elderly and mentally weak ones.

    My elderly parents still struggle with my brother's loss even after 2 years.

    And, yes, people keep telling you they're all praying for your sick loved one, but we know the prayer chains won't work, so please don't tell us about it.

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  6. Much love to you. I think of you and I think of Teri often. I think of how I felt when Judi was at this stage and I so wish that you didn't have to feel the way you do. I'm so sorry....and I send my love.

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  7. Mike Woodbeck10:39 PM

    Lori, I agree with you about stupid shit to say, there is nothing to say that will help you. After Candy and Wendy died I thought "She's gone to a better place" was the stupidest thing to say, WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PLACE,I wanted to scream,punch,kick,mutilate,spindle or what ever else I could think of that i thought that would make me feel better, but I'm sorry to tell you this,there is nothing.
    I would only suggest that you do what your doing. And Hug everybody as much as you can and even hold on longer to them if you have to. Know I love all of you and am thinking of you always.
    Mike Woodbeck

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  8. God Lori, I'm so sorry. My heart is with you. I am glad that you have people around you that love you so much, hopefully that will help give you the strength to get through all of this. Sometime I just don't know how we human's can bear so much pain and loss, but if anyone can it's you, because you are one strong lady.

    P.S. What is Mac's? I will tell everyone in the county to go there/buy their stuff/use their services/randomly give them money and hugs. It's nice to know there are still business owners out there with a heart.

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  9. I'm so sorry. The only thing I can offer is this poem:
    http://www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/Rudyard_Kipling/kipling_if.htm
    If it does not help at all, at least maybe the few minutes it will take you to read it will be something.

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  10. Well said! Even in your grief, you manage to find some humor.

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  11. I lost mt dad to cancer. It sucks and there's nothing anyone can say except bullshit platitudes.

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  12. There's nothing I can do or say that will make this better, but if cyberhugs count, I'm sending them by the boatload.

    Or something.

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  13. I've meant to write you about a dozen times lately, as I've been going through the same struggle with a loved one. In the end, I just never could find the right words to say to you. "I understand", "been there" or "I'm there with you" or anything else never set right. In any case, feel free to vent away to me (now or later) if you want because, unfortunately, "I understand". And if you don't or can't right now, that's good too. We do what we have to when faced with these things. My best to you and your family.

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  14. Much love to you, too. Much, much, much.

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