Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Witness of the Sacred

This weekend I had yet another opportunity and privilege to be a witness of the passing of another to the next world.

She was someone who was one of the moms that “adopted me” over the years, which is so special to me after losing my own. It was quite unexpected which brings its own complications to the grief process. She went in for a simple procedure and something went wrong. It happened to Tim’s mom. It reminds me of Tim’s supposed gallbladder removal and coming out with stage four cancer instead.

I walked away with my faith renewed in Buffalo General. The staff was wonderful. They showed genuine compassion and were straight forward and honest with the family. Professional but human, kind, competent.

Every time I go through a situation like this, I learn a few more things. Sometimes it’s about the medical system, procedures and practice. Other times it’s about relationships, loss, and the blend of unique and universal grief all mixed in together.

I cried briefly, but mostly was gathered together, even though the people I care about around me were in agony with the loss of the most important woman in their life. I actually started to worry, but then I remembered how it goes with me. True to form, in the thick of it I was present to everyone around me. Several hours later when I went to bed, it took about 15 minutes for me to blubber. Tim was ready and held me until my tears were done (for now).

It’s always hard to articulate what this experience is like. Words seem awkward, phrases feel inappropriate. But I was so proud of this family. All conflict was put aside and everyone allowed themselves to bond through their loss. In spite of the suddenness and the shock of letting her go so quickly, all were in agreement. No need to prolong her suffering.

As for mom? Well, it’s my personal belief that she is soaring in heaven with a now perfect body. She is free of aches and pains. I rejoice for her. For the rest of us? I pray for healing because the mourning is great. The hole she leaves behind will never be filled. It may scab over with time, but she is one of those that affect you for a lifetime.

And to her family, I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to be present during this very sacred time. It was an honor to be there, and it will continue to be a privilege to walk this grief journey with you, however little or much you allow my presence. Love and compassion to you all!


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Miscellaneous Tidbits

I wrote a blog about losing stuff, and I forgot to mention the one positive. I have NOT lost my sense of humor. Thank God.

Last week I was driving Dad and I home from Lockport. That’s about a 45 minute drive home and I’ve made the drive a million times. We stopped at Millersport Market so I could pick up a fabulous dinner for Colin’s 33rd birthday. It wasn’t exactly cooking, but it sort of was. I had just enough time to get home, get it in the oven and eat before we had Frankie’s first hockey game after being laid up on crutches.

After a few minutes, I looked at Dad and told him I was feeling confused. I couldn’t get my bearings. Where was I? I knew I was on the expressway but suddenly nothing looked familiar. I studied the signs and realized that somehow I went east on 90 instead of west. How the heck did I do that? Well let me just tell you, it is 17 miles before the next exit. I had to drive all the way to Pembroke before I could turn around. That’s 34 miles out of the way. At first, I was teary-eyed, telling myself what a sucky parent I was. How hard is it to make a dinner for your kid’s birthday? Impossible for me. But then Colin called and said he wasn’t home anyway so we decided to have the dinner the next day. Dad and I joked all the way home about the scenic drive and the chance to spend some quality time together.

Yesterday, Dad got a phone call. He put it on speaker. The woman said she was from the company he used to work for and was following up on the hearing aids he got. His insurance had this amazing deal where he got hearing aids for free. They usually are 3-4 thousand dollars so it was quite a thing. Dad just looked at me in utter confusion. I explained what the call was. They wanted to do a survey with him. I then said into the phone, “He can’t understand what you are saying because he ISN’T WEARING HIS HEARING AIDS!” We laughed our butts off. He doesn’t wear them most of the time which is quite convenient when he wants to block us out :).

Then we had to go to the eye doctor for Dad. Most of the patients in there are older. It’s only a five-minute appointment with the actual doctor. But you see two other people first for various tests. This one older guy gets picked up and I hear the nurse say, “Oh, ha ha. I was waiting for the joke. I knew you would have one.” Never fear, I got to hear the jokes before the morning was over.

What did the cookie say to the doctor? I feel crummy.

Why does a hummingbird hum? Because it doesn’t know the words.

Cute. Very cute. Until the third and fourth time I heard the jokes. He told them to everyone. I wanted to tell him he needed some new material.

Then Dad and I went back to Lockport to see my sister in the hospital. (No, smart alec, I didn’t drive all the way to Pembroke this time. But you can be sure I was not on automatic pilot. I paid attention to every turn I made!) She has a blockage in her pancreas. She is being transported to Buffalo General today. They will do a procedure where they explore the blockage. If it is gallstones as hoped, they will be removed. If it is a mass, they will do a biopsy. After the procedure, they will determine the next step. She hasn’t eaten anything, or even had ice chips since Sunday and it’s now Friday. At least she is not in excruciating pain anymore.

In her room, her surgeon drew her a lovely picture of her inside organs to explain things.
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We got talking about what NPO means. I knew it meant nothing by mouth, but we looked up what the actual meaning is. Turns out it’s Latin for “nils per os.” So that became the game, asking nurses who walked in if they knew what it meant. Not one person knew. I know a nursing student who is taking his last finals before graduating. He didn’t know either. I’m so proud. If the question is ever on Jeopardy, I’ve got it covered.

But the most mature joke of all, was that picture. Now honestly, doesn’t that look like a penis at the bottom? I mean, not a good picture of one, but at first glance? The nurses agreed. My sister’s roommate is about a million years old. I don’t think she thought the joke was funny. Dad didn’t mind. But then, he didn’t have his hearing aids in so he probably didn’t even know what we were saying.

By the way, that is supposed to be her pancreas.