August 12, 2011

Living Without Regret

This will be the last post on Joe. For a long time. Last night was a catharsis, but I have other things going on in my life other than all that deals with him.

I don't have issues with death. If someone is ready to die, I will gladly hold their hand and sit next to the Grim Reaper until the Grim Reaper makes the connection. If someone is ready... I am too.

I'm the one who counseled my father in law in how to get off the crazy train.

But with Joe, what bothers me is the suffering and the future suffering. The indignity of it all. Those things bother me, which is why my family knows that when the time comes, I have an exit plan.

This is Joe's choice... to live this way and to have everything done to keep him living... good or bad. I respect that.

So today I sat next to him, he had six bags of stuff running into him. I said to the nurse, 'I think you're out of hooks.' What a mess.

I said to him, 'Joe. Are you OK with dying?"

He replied, "Yeah. I'll go when the Lord is ready to take me."

I said, "Fair enough."

We sat there in silence and he turned to me and said, "I want to see my sister again. I am fighting to get better so I can go to New Jersey and see her again. I need to be with my family."

And the lock was opened and I understood. He doesn't have children, he is a widower, there is nothing here for him, and he appeared comfortable with death, so what was it?

His sister.

So I called his family tonight and said, "You need to come now. He's not going to die today or tomorrow or probably this week. But it is like a death by one thousand cuts... he will die a death by one thousand infections. It will be slow, but it is coming."

His sister has Parkinson's and her husband is nearly crippled. He is 85, she is 82. They struggle to get around.

They are coming on Tuesday. I made some suggestions and they made it happen.

It is what he needs... and ultimately what his sister needs. If he can fight to stay alive to see her again, they can figure a way to see him... for it may be the last time.

No regrets. They cannot have regrets.

Posted by Boudicca at August 12, 2011 09:44 PM

.... I certainly do not envy your task, ma'am..... it is a sore road to travel - watching someone slowly fade and die....

.... I stayed with my Father for three days before he finally passed away.... he was a quiet, confident, amazing man... fifteen minutes before he died his body went into a panic attack, and it was honestly the most terrible thing that I had ever seen.... gasping, groaning, raging, reaching, trying his best to hold onto life for just a few minutes more.... the nurse rushed in and gave him a tranquilizer that calmed him down..... fifteen minutes later he was gone....

.... I remember my mother leaning across him after the medicine had been injected.... she kissed his cheek and said, "it is ok, my love.... we will be fine.... it is alright if you leave."...

... my cousin Calvin was there with me, and we went out side for a breather (his panic attack had jolted us both hard).... I remember saying to Calvin, "Damn, that was horrible... I love him too much to see him go through that again..... I'd rather smother him with his pillow than see him struggle like that again."..... I have thought of those words often since then.....

.... losing someone that you love is not half as horrible as watching someone you love struggle and suffer - knowing that the inevitable is just around the corner...

... I hope that your friend gets to see his sister again......

... and I know that it is hard & horrible, but you really are doing a labor of love....

Posted by: Eric at August 13, 2011 08:57 AM

It is the suffering, Eric. Whether it be mental or physical, it is the suffering that is so difficult to watch.

I think his seeing his sister will either be good for him... or he'll finally decide he's done. It will be interesting to see which he chooses.

Posted by: Bou at August 13, 2011 08:45 PM

You just took my breath away. You already know my thought on most of this from when your Father In Law passed, but I want to say again as someone who is childless I pray to God every day that when my time comes I have someone like you in my corner. Stay strong. Shaz xx

Posted by: Shaz at August 14, 2011 09:57 PM