Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Remember That One Time...

For those of you who tune into this blog and casually peruse my light-hearted prose, I'm shifting gears today. If you don't want to read a lot of emotional reflection, you need to just wait until the posts return to their humorous slant. It's been a week now since my only sibling went into the hospital with severe pneumonia. The lack of oxygen apparently led to a minor heart attack and what looked to be partial renal failure. Her body temperature spiked at 104 before she stabilized. In this week, Tanya has gotten worse, then improved, then gotten worse, then improved until Sunday afternoon, she really took a tumble. Her CO2 levels hit more than twice the normal level, which mean that her body was refusing to expel all that gaseous waste. Nothing seemed to work. Tanya's husband, Mike, signed a DNR Sunday night. Yesterday morning, early, a doctor mentioned that he didn't think she'd last the day. So we sent Haley to school, and Kelsee and I loaded Cameron into the van to go say his last goodbyes to his mother, thinking we could just wait it out. Sometime in late morning, they decided to remove all her various life-sustaining devices and move her to a private room outside of ICU so all her family could be with her as she passed on. However, she took another upswing once the feeding tube was taken out, so the little fighter decided to hang on for at least one more night. As I write this, I wonder how she is since I've not yet heard from anyone at the hospital. I just can't go spend another day at the hospital today. I prepared myself, and had a very tender moment with her yesterday when she was lucid and responding to my words. It was my special goodbye. On one hand I hope they call me if she takes a turn for the worse so I can make an effort to be there for the end, if not for myself then for my family. On the other hand, I'm at peace if she passes before I see her again. Grief is a very interesting thing. Everybody does it in their own way. There is no right or wrong. There were nearly 40 family members and friends at the hospital yesterday, many of whom stayed for hours waiting. Dozens of other friends and family called in. It was a remarkable outpouring of support, and one my sister would have loved to see had she been more aware. My mom really benefited I think from all of TC's family around her. I, on the other hand, am a very private person when it comes to my emotions. Just ask Kelsee how hard it is to get me to express my feelings, and she's my best friend and lover. I write my emotions here because writing is therapeutic to me and it's easier to bold or honest in cyberspace. Anyway, I tried to keep a stoic presence in public, but when it was just me and Kelsee, I was often in my own state of emotional catatonia. This is harder than when my dad died. Kelsee said it could be because I'm older and have more life experience. That's part of it, I'm sure. I'm sure I'm also feeling this more because Tanya is a peer, just two years older. We experienced life together as siblings, dealing with our childhoods in a way parents couldn't. She's been sick for a long time, but I still feel a new pang knowing that I can't turn to someone when I have a childhood memory and say "Remember that one time..." Even as recently as six months ago I could still share the memory with Tanya and she'd smile or laugh. That's gone. Sometime in the near future, it'll just be me talking to the air, and no one else will have that knowing nod as they join me in reverie. Does this sound like a heaping tablespoonful of woe-is-me? I guess it does. C'est la vie. I'm prone to bouts of self-pity, but they are usually fleeting. I'm sure more will occur as I sit around waiting for my sister to die, whether that be days or weeks. On a more positive note, when my emotional state is heightened as it was yesterday, I tend to be all touchy-feely. Anyway, during the dozen or so elevator trips yesterday, I had the opportunity to travel with several new mothers and fathers. I saw at least a half dozen tiny bambinos on their way home with their dazed parents. I don't know what their lives will be like, but at that moment all seemed right in their worlds. With death comes sadness and mourning. With birth comes joy and hope. I count myself blessed that I know that after death we will have that same joy and hope again. Don't tell me there is no God. I've seen and felt too much to believe otherwise.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I'm one of Kelsee's online friends, my prayers are with you and your family, especially Tanya at this time.