Wednesday, October 11, 2017

So Now What?

It has been a whirlwind of activity since my last post describing the odd dream I had about Don's parents. A couple of days later I left for a trip back 29 years to visit two of the three families who were kind enough to let me live with them when I was a Rotary Exchange Student. The trip was magical from beginning to end, and one I really do want to blog about soon before the aura fades away forever. That was followed by a few days in Paris, that were also special. I am hoping when I have a chance to study the pictures I took the feelings I had will come back to life. Don and Ashley joined me at Disneyland Paris (which we will always think of as Euro Disney). I ran three magical races, with Don running the half marathon with me from beginning to end. All special stories worthy of blogging about.

Then we came home. The next day I visited Honey Bunny (Don's mom) in the nursing home and could tell the dream from 10 days earlier would come true sooner rather than later. My brother-in-law told me she was doing much better than when he saw in her early September. Of that I don't doubt, but I could still tell she was not long for this earth. I don't know how I knew, but I did. At this point it was September 26, eleven days after that dream.

As I was at the assisted living side asking for Honey Bunny's mail, Christine came out to see me. Christine was standing in for Amanda, the director, who was at a week long conference. Due to my trip, I hadn't seen Honey Bunny in over a week, but when she said they decided she is not strong enough to return to her assisted living apartment, I knew she was right. We had a heartfelt chat about how to make the end easier. What should we do? Medicare would soon stop paying for rehab because it was clear she was not improving. A call to my BIL was tough to make, but I wanted him to hear it from me instead of via email from a stranger.

I went to visit Honey Bunny. From then until her death on October 5 is a blur. I made a number of visits. On September 28 we had our final Family Meeting where we discussed moving her "upstairs" out of the rehab wing to the long-term care side. A private room was selected. Don, Ashley, and I even checked out the room. It wasn't a bad room, but it was a sign the end was near. We had no idea just how near.

That weekend Allen and Ellen drove down from Massachusetts to see her. Though mentally prepared for what they would see, they admitted they underestimated the end was that close. While in town, they cleaned out her apartment (for which I am eternally grateful, I had no energy for that). We let her rest on Monday, figuring the long visits with Al and Elly would have tired her out.

When the three of us went to visit on Tuesday the third the staff was discussing whether or not to move her to the hospital. I told them in no uncertain terms, she was staying where she was. Fortunately we had just learned Don has Power of Attorney and could legally say what my gut told me. Fortunately I had just spoken with someone who said a trip to the hospital in this state would prolong her life on earth, but not her quality. There was no recovery in her future as death had started climbing into her veins, only a life of tubes and wires -- which she had stated for years she did not want.

We returned separately over the next couple of days. On Wednesday I could see her staring at the ceiling with clear blue eyes displaying only a pinprick of black. I asked her if she saw someone, but there was no answer. I held her hand, cleaned her mouth, and told her she was loved. 

On Thursday I left at 1:30. My BIL from Massachusetts arrived at 2 and stayed with her until she took her last breath at 4:07. I have no doubt she was instantly in dad's arms -- the place she has wanted to be for 13 years and three months.

The following few days were a blur. We met with the funeral director and the minister. Ed and Carol chose flowers and ordered food. Carol, Ed, and Al chose clothes for her to wear. Don, Ashley, and I cleaned the house for the post-funeral party on Monday (Columbus Day). Even yesterday was spent cleaning up from the party, dropping a check off at the church, visiting the grave, getting the house back in order, letting the siblings know who came to the funeral, getting the death certificates to Ed, etc. 

Today feels like a whoosh, and sort of a let down.

Now what? 

I wish I knew.

I was so busy with daily life stuff I forgot to get her life story. A life I am piecing together now through photos and stories. I am chastising myself for doing exactly what I tell others not to do. It happens to the best of us.

I'm getting through the day picturing her not as she was a month ago when she thought she was returning to her apartment for good (a place she had learned to call home), but as she was on her wedding day with her beloved Bobby.

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