So I guess I haven’t posted in a while.

It’s not for lack of stuff to write. In fact, I should probably be journaling like crazy through all of this because, as I explained to over the phone a few weeks ago, I could write a freakin’ book about how weird and surreal this whole process has been — and strangely comic at times, believe it or not. But the energy to journal just isn’t there, so I’ve been skipping it.

But let me see if I can explain. No, it’s too much to explain. Let me see if I can summarize.

My dad is dying, but typical of my dad, he’s being stubborn about it. If the doctors say he has days, maybe a week, then by god, a week comes and goes and he’s smiling and having a rare good day at the end of that week. If we get the impression, as we have several times, that this day might be his last, then by god, the next day he’s alert and nearly talkative, and we’re left scratching our heads and drying our tears and just trying to ride out the emotional tidal waves.

My mom and I went to meet with the people at the funeral home a few weeks ago. Fortunately, my dad already made all his arrangements six years ago when his cancer was first diagnosed as malignant. Unfortunately, it was like a freakin’ Keystone Cops routine with these guys at the funeral home, and although I found it all absurdly funny, I know my mom didn’t see the humor in the ordeal.

If there’s one bright spot in this whole sea of darkness, it’s that my sister and I have largely reconciled. It’s a long story, but it comes down to what my coworker and friend Keith described as sounding “like a Lifetime original movie.” A significant letter that apparently never arrived at its destination, a conversation where both participants had completely different understandings of what was said, that sort of thing. And that’s the basis of what’s been keeping us distant for lo these last nine years. So although things aren’t perfect now, there are signs that our relationship may improve with time, and I think my dad has been coherent enough to realize that, which must help him feel a little more at ease, since I know the strained relations between my sister and me have bothered him terribly.

For a long time, I think my brother didn’t get the whole thing — he’s developmentally disabled, borderline retarded but still basically functional and normal-appearing — but several people within and outside of the family have made efforts to clue him in. Now he’s acting out in ways that suggest he gets it and he’s not handling it very well. He’s supposed to be on Medicare but that benefit is currently being contested, so getting him psychological help of any kind is not easy. He’s having to tough it out on his own, and I hate that for him. I sure wouldn’t want to be going through all this without the benefit of Prozac — let alone without being equipped with the emotional maturity to process even comparatively simple issues well.

And my mom is struggling hardest of all. Her husband of 40 years, her closest and dearest friend by far, and clearly the best companion the universe could have ever invented for her, is becoming — or perhaps has already become — unrecognizable to her, and she’s still feeding him, bathing him, and performing plenty of other thankless tasks out of love and duty and determination to see him die with whatever dignity is still possible at this point. Her dilemma breaks my heart every day, and as stressed out and wound-up as she defininitely is, she bears it all so much better than I can ever imagine doing myself.

And Karsten — well, what can I possibly say about Karsten that does him justice? After losing his mother seven months ago, I’m sure it’s suffocating for him to be in an environment where the reality of parental death is thick in the air. But he knows I need him with me, and he’s there for me. We’re in this together, after all, and thank whatever gods there may be for that. This man is like oxygen to me — I simply can’t imagine breathing without him. Especially not right now. And he’s consistently the one person who can relax me, who can always make me laugh, with whom I can just walk and walk and walk for hours and talk about anything or talk about nothing — and it’s the only kind of therapy that could possibly do me any good right now. He soothes my soul.

So there it is, in a nutshell. The cast of characters, the somber scene, the barely-crawling pace of it all. It’s draining as hell, and I feel like I’m in limbo no matter where I am, but I’m trying to make the best of it and find the moments of levity, the revelations of truth, the opportunities to draw closer with the people from whom I’ve moved away so many times — and trying to laugh and love as much as possible at all times. I think that’s all there is to do. I think that’s all there is for any of us to do.

Health and happiness to you all. I’ll update again when I can.

Drawing to a close
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24 thoughts on “Drawing to a close

  • October 18, 2005 at 8:26 am
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    damn…hang in there. that’s really all I can say (I noticed you friended me, and like silk nog so i friended you back).

    Reply
  • October 18, 2005 at 8:50 am
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    I was wondering how you were doing with all of this. How sad for your brother. Why are they contesting his counseling? Is it because of his marriage thing? I didn’t have any prozac, but I did have my husband and family.

    My Dad was equally as stubborn. We’d rush him to the hospital, they’d tell us he wasn’t going to make it through the night, then he’d pull through and just want to be at home. He hung on for 3 months, to which I am grateful, because I got to know him during that time.

    Like you and your sis putting differences aside, my mother and father forgave each other, and 30 years of hatred. Cancer does some incredible things to those family and friends that aren’t the actual cancer patients.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 9:08 am
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    Thanks for the update, I’ve been thinking about you and Karsten.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 9:32 am
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    The deal with my brother’s benefits is that the Social Security office was arguing that, since my brother has been employed at an almost-full-time capacity for most of the last however-many years, that he shouldn’t qualify for benefits. My parents, who are his guardians, have been arguing that he needs the benefits, since the kind of work he’s able to do does not pay him a living wage, and he has not worked full-time hours except rarely. It’s turned into a big ordeal but happily my dad’s sister, who has a background in human resources work and benefits, has stepped in to help sort it all out.

    Re: your dad’s story — it’s amazing how similar and yet how different every one of these stories is, isn’t it?

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  • October 18, 2005 at 10:12 am
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    I’ve been thinking about you, so I was glad to see you post. Keep hanging in there.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 10:19 am
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    My heart is just aching for you and yours. Thinking of you and so glad to hear an update.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 10:27 am
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    Thinking of you, Kate, and sending all sorts of cope for everyone.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 10:28 am
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    I’ve been thinking about you and your family and will continue to do so. Thanks for taking the time to let us know how things are going.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 10:30 am
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    Love you. Let me know what I can do, here or there.

    You and Karsten are lucky to have one another.

    Reply
  • October 18, 2005 at 10:36 am
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    “Re: your dad’s story — it’s amazing how similar and yet how different every one of these stories is, isn’t it?”

    No kidding. I ended up friending quite a few LJers through the cancer community, and it’s a shame that people have to even have that in common.

    Reply
  • October 18, 2005 at 1:18 pm
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    I’ve been thinking about you a lot, thinking it was probably something like this. This is very much how my grandfather went earlier this year, and my mom and her siblings did very much the same sort of thing that you guys are doing with your dad. I was impressed with her strength, and I’m impressed, now, with yours. I’m also really glad to hear about you and your sister. I look forward to hearing more about that when you have the time.

    Might I make a suggestion on the posting thing? This was a beautiful little essay, but I can totally see that you wouldn’t have the energy or presence of mind for that right now. What would you think about just stopping by and telling one short little three-line thing occasionally? It sounds like you have a lot to say, and it might help you to say at least some of it. I’m not suggesting you bother reading anybody else’s journal right now, but just try to jot some small little anecdote or idea down when you can. I think it might help you feel more connected to other people, and also to get at least a couple of your thoughts out. (Of course, if this doesn’t sound appealing, just ignore me.)

    You’re on my mind, and will continue to be. *hug*

    -J

    Reply
  • October 18, 2005 at 1:28 pm
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    Thanks, J. And I appreciate your suggestion. I suppose the disadvantage of posting little things now and then is that they never really seem little at the time. I could’ve written a longer post than this about just the funeral home visit if I’d done it the day it took place. But in the context of everything that’s happened in the past few months, it’s really just a few short sentences.

    I’ve been able to write some lyrics, though, so that’s been a pretty good alternate outlet for my anxiety and overwrought emotions.

    In the meantime, I do occasionally enjoy reading the odd bit of everyone else’s journals. It’s easy to become too self-absorbed at a time like this, and reading about what’s going on for everyone else seems to help me keep some perspective.

    Anyway, thanks again. I appreciate your weighing in.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 1:30 pm
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    You? Can keep keepin’ on, darlin’. I’m thinking a lot about you and your sister-girl and your menagerie-minus-one. Lots of *hugs* to you.

    And yes, we are indeed lucky to have one another, just as we’re lucky to have caring, wonderful friends such as yourself.

    Reply
  • October 18, 2005 at 1:50 pm
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    Thanks for updating – I’ll keep you and yours in my thoughts.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 2:03 pm
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    I’m glad that you posted.. I was just asking about you a few days ago. My thoughts are with you and your family.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 2:06 pm
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    Thanks for the update, we were wondering about how you were. I hope you can get through this ordeal with as little pain and suffering as possible.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 2:24 pm
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    I, too, appreciate the update. I’m pulling for you and yours.

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  • October 18, 2005 at 2:46 pm
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    Puttin’ one foot in front of the other down here, just as you are up there – and thinking of you with pretty much every step.

    And yes, we are lucky. A good reminder.

    *snugs you*

    Reply
  • October 18, 2005 at 4:24 pm
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    Thanks for the update, Kate. I’m keeping all of you in my thoughts and in my heart. It’s a hard time, I know.

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  • October 19, 2005 at 12:13 am
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    no words are adequate but i’m thinking of all of you.

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  • October 19, 2005 at 10:00 am
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    Glad you have someone who knows the area on your side, then.

    That is so great about you and your sister. I’m so glad things aren’t quite what they seemed with her.

    It’s good to hear from you.

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  • October 20, 2005 at 10:56 am
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    I’m glad to hear what’s been going on for you. You are in my thoughts. If there’s anything I can do, or if you ever want to talk, you are more than welcome.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2005 at 2:30 pm
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    So glad you have Karsten, wish I coul doffer more but sending some e-hugs and calmness

    Reply
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