Sunday, August 28, 2011

The messy business of dying...

Dying is messy... Especially when you die slowly and not instantly (i.e. from an accident). I don't think I will ever forget the "beep beep" alarm from the monitor in my dad's last 36hrs. It keeps replaying on a loop in my head, ringing in my ears for the past 2 days now.

I am afraid  I will forget his voice... I have so many regrets. I fear I did something wrong and he is angry with me.
When they told us it is hopeless, I accepted it and said I didn't want him in pain.. but when he was slipping the only thought in my head was "No! I was wrong! I changed my mind!! Do everything, ANYTHING, just make him better!!"
I don't know if he made peace and if he wanted to die. I know he didn't want to die but maybe in the last moments you make your peace and you are OK... I don't know if he was/did. All I know is when he slipped into a coma, they gave him a shot that woke him up very briefly and Andrew, my brother, asked him if he is in pain, and he moved his eyebrows upwards in a "no" motion. That's all he wanted, not to be in pain, however he did not want to die...

I wish my last memories of him weren't the ones I have. I wish I had the luxury of not seeing him in a coma, struggling, I wish I hadn't heard the agony moans, I wish I hadn't felt his breath under my fingertips and his heart's last beats. Dying is messy... it is not peaceful like you see in the movies. I saw it, and I've felt it and it was not easy or a "release" at all.
But I was determined he wouldn't die alone. Even though we had never discussed it, in my heart I felt he did not want to go alone, he was afraid and even though I hadn't slept in two days, even though my pain was unbearable, I stayed there and held his hand and I kept saying "I love you" over and over again until the burdens and the pain of this world got to be too much for him.
His heart held on for 36 hrs. He fought valiantly, he was SO brave.. I want to be just like him...

Now, there are a hundred little details I need to take care of. He was expecting to die, he hadn't made any back up plans... he hadn't any money saved up for a funeral. He hadn't paid his bills or the rent. Silly little things, I know, but still, these need to be taken care of.
Dying is messy... and painful for us left behind. I need to make peace with things as well.

My dad was a great man, one of those honest, good men, joking and laughing his way until the last minute of his life. I miss him more than words can say..

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Meet my dad...

My dad, was the greatest dad in the world!! He was the kind of person that made friends EVERYWHERE he went and you won't find a single person to tell you he didn't like him and be telling the truth.

My dad was born on March 5th 1950 in Athens. He has gray colored eyes and light brown hair. He loved dogs and always had one. He also loved kids... He was an automotive engineer but when he got married to my mom, he worked in the factory they owned. He wasn't just a boss. He was right there, doing labor with the workers. I grew up playing with the worker's kids. He was friends with everyone. Even today, workers still visited to say hello.

When I had the boys he was the happiest I had ever seen him. He was simply beaming with pride and love. The boys and he were very close. Cody is named after him. We saw him every day since he moved to the building across the street from us and last year, he moved into our building on the floor below.

I had never ever asked my dad about something to be told no. Even if it was his last 10 Euro bill, his last bite, the last bit of strength I asked of him, he would give it to me.
When he got really sick, he hid it from us. He did not want to be a burden or make us sad. I thought he didn't know but it turns out he did. He knew he was dying. He just didn't want to be in pain.
Even in his final days, he was so upbeat. He knew he couldn't beat this thing but you never saw him without a smile.

I wish *I* knew about his condition. He made such an effort to hide his pain and his misery, I honestly thought he was ok.
He did not want to go to the hospital on the 15th... I think he was hoping the end was near and he wanted to die at home. I took him anyway. He spend his final 11 days in the hospital. I am sure he would have preferred to be home though. He didn't complain.
The entire floor knew him soon. When he passed, people stopped me at every corner because they had heard.
He had zero enemies.. he has a million friends.
John has exactly the same toes as my dad did...
He loved cars but he never owed a new one or an expensive one.
He never ever spoke a single harsh word of anyone. He always looked at the positive of people, ignoring any evil or bad side.. it often worked against him.
He trully believed people were inherently good..
He put up a huge, valiant fight, proving all doctors wrong. He lasted 36 hrs with a crazy high heartrate. Even with a blood pressure of 2, his heart never quit...I hope I inherited his heart.
He was a family man. He never re-married. After my mom grew tired of him and threw him out, he still loved her and would spend the rest of his life wondering why...
My dad has the patience of a mule. Life threw loads of things at him and he took them with a smile. He always got up when he fell down with a smile. He was the most optimistic person I know.
He was certainly my most favorite person other than my kids. I only wish I knew about the severity of his condition. I have a lot of regrets. I wish I had spent more time with him.
When the time came, I wished I could scream "Wait! I've changed my mind!!! Make him all better!!" but it was too late. In my head I know that bone cancer is ALWAYS fatal... but in my heart, I wish I had known he had it, I wish he hadn't lied to me, and I wish I had fought it... I wish I had another 15 years with my dad...
His favorite fruit was watermelon. He liked sorbet ice creams more than chocolate or vanilla.
He was kind, forgiving and tolerant. He was the easiest person to get along with!
Even after the cancer spread, he still lasted 5 months when others died with a few weeks.
He was strong inside and out... and I wish more than anything, to be just like him!

I love Daddy... I miss you so much. I can't believe I won't see you again in this life... I keep thinking I will come downstairs and you will be right there... Fly high and watch over us...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The weird thing about life...

I have found myself in a peculiar place these past few days.. I am inmessurably sad, breaking out in sobs, finding myself unable to take a deep breath at times... I am sad, I am sad about my dad and I can't believe he won't be here a while later... But, at the same time I have caught myself laughing with my son... enjoying a coffee at home... Loosing myself into sculpting well past midnight... Thinking about First Grade, making plans for the future...

Life is so weird! Just last night in the midst of all, after dad was given his morphine and fell asleep, I found myself in the courtyard with my brothers, my mother and two friends, laughing and joking one minute, being serious, analyzing and crying the next... How odd!! Odd for a black and white person like me. I have often found it hard to understand life at times... maybe I am a little Aspergerian myself, like my son, who knows.. maybe everyone is like me and have difficulty wrapping their mind around things at times...

I found it SO odd when yesterday I opened the fridge and it was empty.. I opened my wallet and it was empty... I cocked my head on one side like a puppy, pondering the strangeness of the situation... Surely when your world is in such turmoil the fridge WILL fill itself and money WILL appear on their own accord in your wallet, right? I mean, my dad is dying, my only family, the one person I am closest to, the one person I tell everything, the first person I call in a crisis... So surely, things like food and money must make themselves available to me just like that...
But no. I still have to go to the super market, I still have to work and sell and ship to have money...

I told George last night I wanted to just scream "STOOOOOP!!!" and have everything stop for a while... Just stop, let me think it over for a minute, take a deep breath, lay out a plan, come to grips... But it doesn't work this way..

The sun still comes up every morning, I still dream carefree (mostly) each night. My son still makes jokes and I laugh. I still get hugs and kisses. I still must walk the dog x3 a day and the cat still wakes me up at 5am for his breakfast... I still must pay my insurance on Friday.
However, everything seems to be under a heavy blanket of something... it's the same life as before but different. I still laugh with my son, but something holds me back. I still enjoy my coffee but it tastes a little different... I still say my nightly prayers but I am lost for words...

Life is so weird!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of life...

My dad lies in a hospital bed in what the doctors seem to think is his last leg.. He is only 61 years old but cancer has consumed him.
I left him a week ago, on a Saturday morning, a little bit run down but ok, and returned on the Monday to find him unable to hold a glass of water. I called 911 and off we went to the hospital. He didn't want to go.. It took a lot of cajoling on my part and promises that I would return him to his home soon... "Let's go so they can check you out and I can sleep easy tonight" I told him, smoothing over the untold, rough edges of my fears.
I came home at 4.20am the next morning... he was admitted.

Slowly, I have come to grips with the reality of what is going on. I mourn... He is still alive, yet I find myself unable to stop crying, unable to do any housework, hiding in my room, allowing my son to play for hours on the Xbox so he won't see me crying. I talk about my dad behind closed doors but Cody has caught on. It is difficult not to hear me or see me... after all, we live in a tiny apartment, there aren't many places for me to hide.

We haven't told him... we haven't told him that the doctors believe he won't walk out the hospital. I can't bear the thought that soon he might be gone. He is my only family. Why him? Millions upon millions of evil people in the world, people who have killed, stollen, murdered, raped... why my dad? You couldn't find a kinder man, a more honest man. He never hurt anyone in his entire life... and the only things he will leave behind are a good name, us three kids and two grandkids. Not a penny in the bank, not a fancy house, not because he hasn't worked hard in his life, the contrary, but because material possesions never mattered to him...

When he was diagnosed, two years ago almost to the day, I truly thought he would be the one to make it... Cancer has already claimed 3 of his siblings but I thought he would be the lucky one to get away. I guess until recently I still believed it... I am not so sure now. In fact I think I know deep down inside he will die soon... not because his doctors tell me so... I have learned long ago not to trust them and that what they give me is their best educated guess and not a fact. They are not God and have no knowledge of God's will either...They guess... and sometimes they are right because the chances are either or... just like when you are pregnant. You will either get a boy or a girl... no matter what you pick, you have a 50% chance of being spot on.

No, it's not the doctor's grim prognosis that make me believe my dad will die... It's the fact that he wants to die... The spark in his eye is gone, the fight is draining for him. He has fought so bravely, lasted more than siblings did, sacrificed parts of his body, his quality of life, just for a chance of remission... and it seems that this has been denied for him.
The cancer seems to have spread to the bones, consuming him rapidly, like a wild fire. A month or so ago, his scans were clean, now his body is crawling with cancer. The doctors throw their hands up in the air... and I... I don't know what to do next. My brain is buzzing, the thoughts coming so fast I can't even control them.

Life goes on inspite my turmoil. Bills still come in, I still need to cook and clean. Dolls need to be sculpted, sold and paid for so I can bring food to the table... I still need to walk the dog... and I get mad. I get mad at my husband because he is not picking up any of the slack! He will hold me and say things that sound nice but he won't do anything to really help.
What's gonna happen if dad is gone? Where will I find the thousands required for a funeral?
What will I do with his stuff? What about the small loan he took from the bank? Will I have to pay it? He has nothing to his name... must children pay their dead parents' debts?
What will I do with his cat? And while doing all that, who will put food in our table?
Selfish thoughts I know, but the reality is that the world did not stop turning this week.. I am left with $60 in my wallet and if I don't pay our car insurance by Friday, they will terminate it.

My dad is dying... everything else seems mute... yet it isn't. Where is my balance? How do I do this alone? There are no kindly neighbors to cook me something or babysit... or are they and I am just too proud to accept help? My dad faked feeling ok for a few months, which is why it took me so long to figure it out. He didn't want to burden me... he still doesn't. I don't even know what to pray for anymore.

I want to bang down God's door and beg for complete healing... fast. Yet at the same time I want to beg for mercy, for a swift, merciful, liberating death for him... for him to fly free of this rotten body that no longer functions... but I want to keep him here for many more years!!
What does this all mean for me? Will I die of cancer too? Do I only have a few years left? Can I stop it from happening? I don't smoke or drink and I am healthy for now... Why can't I turn off my brain???

Monday, August 08, 2011

And just like that, they are gone...

My boys are off to a few days of pampering with grandma on the mountains.
We got them up very early and loaded them into a bus with their godmother and off they went.
Cody was emotional and clearly torn between wanting to go and wanting to stay with mommy.
John, as always the cool and level headed one, didn't even glance back, didn't even kiss me goodbye and skipped happily away... Kinda broke my heart but I know he loves me, he just has dificulty adjusting to social standards because in his world, he knows he loves me, there is no need for social musts like a kiss goodbye or even say the words "I love you mommy".

They have arrived safely and when I called them a minute ago, they were outside playing and enjoying a spectacular view from the house which is perched at the edge of a cliff overlooking the mountains.

Since they have been gone, I went out for a date with George. It was silly really, it was as if we couldn't wait to get out of the house, like someone was going to bring them back any minute. We haven't been on a date for months and since we had the boys the times someone kept them so we could go out are counted in the fingers of one hand, so needless to say, we were starving for some alone time outside the house.

We had lunch, then a coffee and then ice cream, it was wonderful. We acted like two school children whose bags are already packed and they dash out the door milliseconds even before the bell rings for dismissal.

I enjoyed a night of uninterrupted sleep and I got up in my own time in the morning. It was awesome. As I was vacuuming, It occured to me as if it was new, that I was alone and would be alone all day without the kids but I felt at peace. Even at school, I was always missing them and worrying about them, because I didn't trust their teacher and I thought they were not happy there. But since I know they are having a blast right now, even without me, I am at peace.

I know this all sounds strange to some, especially to those who are lucky to have parents on both sides who actually care about their grandchildren, enjoy spending time with them and gladly take them for a weekend every other month or babysit regularly etc.
But to me, having no help (not even hired help) this interlude of 4 days without them is a HUGE thing and it won't be repeated again for at least a year.
So here I am on one hand missing them, on the other jumping for joy. A million "I want to dos" is running through my head and I know I don't have enough time for everything because, truth be told, the #1 priority is finishing my chores and sculpting...which in itself  will leave little time for anything else... Can't believe I am child free for 4 more days :)
Can't believe they are not in their room :(

Am I crazy??

Friday, August 05, 2011

I dislike...

I am groutchy from yesterday and Cody's misbehaving, cutting my finger so deep and the state of my apartment at the moment so here goes...
I dislike that people I used to like, now make money off their blogs and they post stupid things and giveaways and the such just for you to click on the ads...

I dislike that they used to write about their story and I would follow it but in the end anything meaninful is gone and it's just about the money. They used to reply to your comments or e-mails but not anymore.

Yeah, I am groutchy today... the only that kinda cheers me up is the adorable preemie head waiting for me to give him limbs on work table (and the promise of ice cream later!!).
Oh and that Jack's waxes are done and they are great and very soon I will have my sample vinyls... ok still groutchy... Humph.

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