December 26, 2009


I found out tonight that a Mom at school will die in the next 48 hours. It is bringing back many memories for me... most not so good.

Cervical Cancer. This will be the first woman I know to die of it. Hell, I don't know anyone who has ever HAD it, let alone die of it. When I found out that was what she has been fighting these last few years, I said with horror, "This is the 21st century! Women don't die of cervical cancer!"

Goes to show what I know.

Not much.

She skipped her doctor's appointment for three years. She is dying... she is 45.

Five years ago, a Mom I know died of Leukemia. She never helped her family prepare. I went to visit her a week before she died; I took the anniversary meal to her and her husband... their last anniversary. I bought candle sticks and candles, cooked dinner and got a dessert. I took it to her, stood in her bedroom doorway and spoke as she really didn't want visitors. Her husband had me pop my head in, I said hello, she was in pain, she was dying.

Her husband walked me out and I asked how their sons' scheduled counseling appointment went with Hospice. They had canceled it. They had other things to do and just didn't go. I was angry, but internalized it. A plastered smile across my face, I hugged him and said I understood... I did not.

She died. There were no plans. A girlfriend of mine planned her entire funeral, went to the store and bought her clothes for her casket as she literally had nothing but stretchy pants and t-shirts in her closet.

There was absolutely no preparation... on any level.

For those of you have been reading me long enough, you'll remember how angry I was. I sat down and planned out my funeral. My husband was kind of aghast, but it was a process I had to go through.

How could a Mother die and not prepare those around her for trying to survive... without her? How?

Yet I see it happening again. This Mom's children did not know she was dying until today. The husband has been in denial, yet for the past few years, this woman has been playing Cancer Whack-a-mole, as it moved from spot to spot all over her body. Brain, breast, bladder, pain... all over. Each time the doctor knocking it back... until all the radiation and chemo destroyed her insides and she bleeds internally without a way for anyone to stop it.

There is no little Dutch Boy who can put his finger in this dike.

It is done.

I have spent the evening mulling it over, a bit angry again perhaps, horrified, calling the one person I knew who could help the kids... one of their teachers.

I've been internally processing the information.

Two points do not make a trend... but this is two Moms now that I know that haven't helped their children prepare.

And I decided tonight... it's not because they didn't want to. It's because the horror was so vast they could not.

They were not ready to die. They did not want to die. She does not want to die. They have children.

And in the world where it is right, you watch your children grow up, see them through high school, watch them as they go to college or learn a trade, sit in the aisle as they get married, hold their children, and die in your sleep of a very very old age.

You don't die when your children are in elementary and middle school.

It is not the way things are to go...

And so I am realizing tonight, that the absolute horror of it all, of leaving their children behind when they themselves are not ready, gets in the way of tying up loose ends.

There aren't supposed to be any loose ends at 45.

Their own personal grief and denial... akin to a two year old's 'wishful thinking'... regarding their own death, is what I am seeing.

I am no longer angry at these two Moms. I am probably even more deeply sad that I was before and quite frankly, I didn't think I could be much sadder.

It is the tragedy of it all... the tragedy.

It would appear that I will be attending a funeral either as a close out to this year or as start to the new one. My heart is so heavy for that family tonight, it hurts to breathe.

I am left... not understanding... why bad things happen to such good people.


Posted by Boudicca at December 26, 2009 11:40 PM

There is not much I can say other than I was very saddened to read this. My heart goes out to the mom's family.

Posted by: Jim - PRS at December 27, 2009 08:49 AM

I have good friends who are in the same situation. I have seen a shift recently, where the wife is starting to accept the situation (not that she has given up hope), and they are working to prepare the young kids. It breaks my heart, and I cannot imagine being either parent - the one who leaves, or the one who stays...

It is the worst kind of situation, and my heart breaks for them. Prayers for your friends and their families as well.

Posted by: jck at December 27, 2009 10:28 AM

This is just so sad.

One year ago, Dec 31 - a friend of mine was murdered by her husband. She had 2 very young children and one teenager. She had no time to prepare them either. I've been remebering the sadness for the last few days. So I sort of know where you are coming from right now.

Just so sad.

Posted by: patti at December 27, 2009 10:43 AM

I just hope that I would have what it takes to hit it head on for my kids. I hope that I'd have what it took to use the resources required to help them... get Hospice counseling set up for them, talk to them about what's next, let their friends know, be open about it instead of the 'hush hush' that seems to be pervasive or the 'fantasy' that everything is guaranteed to be fine. Both cases... the kids were clueless. Whispering by the adults as to what is going on and speculation as to what can be done to help.

I don't know. The whole situation is so sad. I need to revisit my funeral plans. The blue dress I picked out five years ago when this first happened doesn't fit anymore...

Posted by: Bou at December 27, 2009 11:01 AM

Bou: That is so sad. I don't think all of the counselors in the world can soften the loss of someone so close. Quick or slow ... is there ever a good way to go?

Posted by: PeggyU at December 27, 2009 03:21 PM

Oh God... My heart breaks for these families. And for you Bou - being so close to those who have lost/are losing so much. It's hard to even think about...

I hate cancer. I do. May peace be with you and with both of those families... And with all who do battle with this gottdamn disease.

Posted by: Richmond at December 27, 2009 06:40 PM

As long as you don't "do" anything then it's not real. Oh how I know that one. It's not just for those in their 40's... oh no not at all.

During the course of my father's life, he nearly died about 5 different times from various acute medical problems. Each time he survived, but I was told all along that "plans had been made" and "it's all taken care of"...


Last year in September when the last illness hit him, I was trying to get details from my sister and found... Nothing. Had. Been. Done. NOTHING. He was 85, dying, and no plans had been made. Even though we all knew it would likely not be immediate, we also knew he would not recover from the last acute medical episode.

Yet, nothing was ready.

Losing my temper, I hopped a plane to St. Louis as soon as I could - upsetting many other things I had going on.

I went home and made all the plans for my father AND my mother. At the very least, the basics are done. But I was not happy to find out that they were all living in a state of denial for so many many years. Good Grief!

So, yes, I do see how people can and will completely ignore what is staring them straight in the face because my family is a classic example of "if you don't acknowledge it, it doesn't exist". *sigh*

My prayers go out to the families who are ultimately left behind and completely unprepared to face that new life.

Posted by: Teresa at December 28, 2009 01:44 PM