Sunday, February 3, 2013

A very personal post

This is perhaps the most personal thing I have posted, here or anywhere. It is the reason for my absence from this site for the last year.

I have not posted with any regularity for quite some time, but my absence for the last year has been due to some very difficult personal circumstances. A few weeks after my last post, my youngest brother took an overdose of prescription and over-the-counter medications, which resulted in his being hospitalized. I spent a weekend with him at the hospital because my parents were unable to be there for him. My father had had a mild stroke in November 2011, he was recovering nicely up until my brother's unfortunate incident. A couple of weeks later, Dad was in the coronary care unit. After about 10 days in the hospital, he went home with hospice care. He died on March 13. The next couple of weeks were a blur. I've made numerous trips to check on Mom in the last year. I helped my youngest brother move in with Mom. I got behind at work and finally managed to get caught up (mostly).

In October, my wife was let go from the bank where she had worked for almost 27 years. It was yet another difficult and stressful time. Fortunately, shortly after she was let go, there was an opening posted for a bookmobile manager for the local library. Her dream had always been to work at the library. She applied and was hired, beginning work there the first of November. For the next six weeks she was the happiest she had been since we married.

On Monday morning, December 17, my world turned upside down. We were getting up for work, like any normal Monday morning. I got up first and went downstairs, ten or fifteen minutes later, I heard my wife call out. I rushed upstairs to find her standing at the foot of the bed, leaning against the bed. The right of side of her face was drooping and she could not move her right arm. I called 9-1-1, helped her into the stroke position, went downstairs to make sure the EMS personnel would be able to enter the house , and rushed back to her side. She was taken to the local hospital, where she remained for a short time, before being transferred to the larger regional medical center, some thirty miles away. That afternoon, we were informed she had a five centimeter lesion in the parietal region of her brain which had likely caused the stroke symptoms and four smaller lesions in other parts of her brain. We were told there were also numerous spots in her lungs and a mass on her left adrenal gland. These, we were told, were indicative of metastatic melanoma. Prior to this point, we had no clue she was in anything other than perfect health.

She had surgery to remove the larger lesion, and immediately began to regain her speech. Within a couple of weeks she was in a rehabilitation hospital showing daily progress toward recovery from the stoke symptoms. From all appearances, we were on the long road to stroke recovery and preparing to do battle with the cancer that threatened her life. Then it happened. I left to run a few errands while she waited another thirty minutes to go to physical therapy. When they came to get her for therapy, as they stood her up, she collapsed and within minutes had coded. I was summoned to the emergency room, and waited for what seem an eternity for the doctor to come out. His first words were, "I'm sorry we have to meet under these circumstances..."

My life since then has been nightmarish. It's been a month, as of today. I know at some point it will get better. I've had a difficult week. I've washed the clothes she wore before she fell ill, donated some of her pants to a resale shop, washed the sheets from the bed, removed her personal items from her vehicle (which I won't be able to afford to keep). [I don't know if I could drive it again if I did keep it. I was driving her vehicle the day she died.] I wake up at night and I don't see her form in the bed next to me... then I realize that I won't. Ever. So, I roll over, try to put that thought out of my mind, and go back to sleep. Everything here reminds me of her. This was our home, it was where we made our life together. Now, that life is over. I am doing all I can to go on. This post is part of my grief process, part of my attempt to recover something resembling life. I know I cannot live in the past, and I know, somehow, I have to find a way forward from here.