Because I was “Gutless”

December 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm 17 comments

Ed note – As a new year beckons and resolutions are made I would ask you to consider one – not pleasant but necessary………………….

The white feather of cowardice

There is so much suffering going on in my world and I AM (partly ) TO BLAME because I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to confront an issue.

I have by MY OWN cowardice enabled those who have harmed my family and taken Chris from us .

Face of Cancer

As readers are aware Chris was given the terrible news on August 29th 2009 after his tandem stem cell transplant that the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma “survived” and “his only chance of survival” was a clinical trial of SGN 35.

He was accepted on to this trial in Houston ,Texas at the beginning of September. Whilst his wife felt that Chris should be able to manage on his own in Texas, I felt the need for someone to be with him . I didn’t feel comfortable not knowing how this treatment would affect him , what the side effects would be , would he feel up to shopping for groceries, cooking meals ,eating or even driving to and from tests and infusions especially, as quite frankly, he was also dealing with the return of the cancer on top of this.

Chris’ family felt he should have someone with him for the months that he would need to be in Houston, so it was decided that I would travel to Texas and be with him and do the things mums do.

I know it was difficult for Chris, after all he was a grown man and the only reason his “mum” was with him was that he was desperately ill. I know that as much as he loved me I reminded him, by my presence alone, that he was fighting for his life and the cancer.

I won’t go into the pain of his journey in Houston due to the cancer and side-effect of the drugs or even the contracting of H1N1 that eventually took his life.

What I will say to you , all of you , is that I could have stopped the pain inflicted after his death caused by those that supposedly loved and cared for my son.

I could have stopped all that has happened since his death IF I HADN’T BEEN SO GUTLESS!

Chris and I had an honest relationship. Oh! sometimes a heated, and very vocal relationship- he was after all “my” son. Sometimes we needed those “bouts of heat” to get to the real issue, to draw out what was really the problem. However, no matter how heated our points of view became, we always came back to laughter and understanding of each other. He was part of me and his heritage in more ways than one.

Now to my dilemma – In my heart of hearts I knew that Chris should be making some decisions- I had a bad feeling about what the next weeks would bring.

One night I lay awake all night trying to decide what to do , I decided to find a time in the day where I would talk to Chris but I couldn’t.

C. J. Hodge “Turning Away” permission

How do you approach your son who had just turned 29 , who was fighting for survival and living on the thin thread of hope of a clinical trial drug and say

What do you want , what would be your wishes should you die?

How could I? how could I see his face as his “mum” asked such a question? Me, who was trying her damnedest to give him hope after the news he had very little unless the SGN 35 worked and he could tolerate its side effects, and for how long?

Try as I might I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ,for once in his life, be open and forthright with him. I thought there might be time, time after the results that I knew would be good- you see I watched the tumors on his neck shrink. I knew that when that cough stopped after the 21st of September that the SGN 35 was working. I watched my son with the eyes of a mother.

And because I couldn’t bring myself to have the “death discussion” with Chris a person who had the “legal right” ( enabled by her family) has exercised that right which has caused my family such a world of hurt .

I didn’t have Chris wishes in writing, NO ONE DID!!!!

I gave her her due and her way (that is not mine ) of saying “goodbye” only a week later to be denied ours.

I am sure Chris trusted his bride and his family to use the love they had for him in a way that would help healing.

That didn’t happen because I was a “gutless wonder”

If there is a lesson to be learned here, please don’t trust that your final wishes would be what you wanted.

I will in days to come give you some “options” and what they really entail-

There are no niceties in death and for some of us there is a great wickedness enabled by a mother’s cowardice.

“IF only”

Entry filed under: Chris Ritchey, commentary, men of substance, personal opinion, weddings and funerals. Tags: , , .

Christmas: The Day After- Chris- Miss- Christmas News Year’s Eve in the parallel universe

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. truth  |  December 29, 2009 at 4:03 am

    I am so totally shocked by what has happened here! I can’t imagine doing to my mother in law what was done to you! Even after all the years of marriage and several children later, simply out of love and consideration for the fact that my husband would want me to think of his parents if such a situation were to occur! But then I guess it’s all in how you are raised. I won’t get into the argument of who has more rights in such a situation but to knowingly destroy someone in the way that you have been is beyond me. Even if I didn’t have a close relationship with my in-laws (which I’m so fortunate to have a VERY close relationship), I couldn’t hurt them in such a way! But then remember that Karma is a bitch and things WILL come full circle!

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  December 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I guess truth, that the argument could be made that maybe Karma is visiting ” me” to put me through what is happening.

    However I am not the only one suffering I know beyond anything else that my little mum has never ever ever done anything in her whole 90 years to hurt or done anything to anyone that would deserve such ” unnecessary wickedness ”

    I went in search of my son ( more on that later in another post) as you start 2nd guessing yourself as to who he was really when someone he loved ( and he did)love her ) tells you what he would have wanted and who he was……Loraine

  • 3. Dawn Becklake  |  December 29, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Loraine – you can’t be that gutless to go through what you have – I cannot imagine how your heart (all of you) must be broken and how you manage to write it all – probably good healing process (if there is one!) Makes me cry to read it and makes me feel how lucky I am – even though I am feeling sorry for myself – the Rayburn has broken – have no heat in Kitchen – sitting around in my numerous jumpers – and haven’t spoken to anyone all day (still waiting for the engineer to ring) – quite insignificant in comparison!!
    Makes me think of sister Jill – called on her one day (she had the cancer by then) sitting in the garden in the sun writing out her funeral arrangements – songs – and directions on what we all had to do – she was one determined lady and we all never forget her. Even though now 5-years down the line. You are right – we make Wills so just add a bit with your wishes.
    Thanking of you all – keep writing – get it all out. Dawn

  • 4. Melanie Szabo  |  December 29, 2009 at 3:30 pm


    I have been a gutless wonder myself lately……maybe I should blog about my trials and tribulations….(another conversation)
    Early November my mom was in ICU and I was asked the question about life support….WHAT? She had surgery and developed pneumonia and a urinary tract infection from the catheter-fever made her delerious .If the breathing treatment didn’t work (her lungs were filling with fluid) I had to decide about intebating her. I was supposed to file power of attorney papers long ago and never did. I never thought that I would become my mother’s “guardian”. Needless to say she never put anything in writing as to her wishes. Luckily she came home three weeks later, but she will never be back to 100%. Legal papers still have not been taken care of. What am I waiting for?

    I am sorry for what you are going through-I would hope my husband would be more considerate……..

    Praying for you and your family.

  • 5. Melanie Szabo  |  December 29, 2009 at 3:36 pm


    I have been a gutless wonder with other aspects of my life too. Where does one find the intestinal fortitude to get back up on that horse and ride again? How many times must one start over?

    Should it be the “New Year, New Me” thing again? UGH!!!!

  • 6. Loraine Ritchey  |  December 29, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Dawn… Jill was one gutsy lady I remember her and John sitting on that little seat at the top of your garden as we were having a “family do” I remember thinking at the time ( she knowing she hadn’t long) “how is she sitting there as if everything was normal how brave she was…. and then watching Chris who never complained once to us .tried to protect us from what he was dealing with .. until the stuffing got knocked out of him in August… Writing has always been my way .. …just as Chris spoke through his artwork and is still speaking to us …..

  • 7. Loraine Ritchey  |  December 29, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Melanie, sometimes it is a situation or someone else that makes us get back up on that horse…. they give us the strength or the anger to put aside our weakness…..for me it was an obituary that was the tipping point …… and since then as well as getting on that horse I am at a gallop ……( although I am sure there are at least a “committee of 19” that wish I would ride off into the sunset…. 🙂

    You ever want to blog let me know I will help!

  • 8. Anne Hayward  |  December 29, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Maybe if Chris had been older it would have been easier to have discussed his departure. Funnily enough my friend (36 married with 2 young children) and I discussed her funeral one evening when I was sitting with her. It turned into a highly amusing evening as we came up with every unsuitable hymn and reading possible. You may be surprised if I tell you she was a church deacon but she, like me, was utterly convinced that by the time her body got to the church she wouldn’t be with it. In any case it’s not something my family will have to worry about as my body has been willed to Cambridge University Medical Faculty for years. I hope my spirit/soul will fly free and eventually find my Dad’s (who has no known grave). Under the legislation if the University keep the cadaver over 6 months they dispose of it, less it comes back to the family but the instructions are that they contact a funeral director to collect and dispose of it – after all I’ve finished with it. My Mum is too old for her remains to be acceptable but her funeral is already arranged and paid for according to her wishes. All the family, including the grandchildren, carry donor cards so that even in death they can give and something positive can come out of it.
    I’m not intending to be hard Loraine but if you can come to think that the other family are worshipping nothing at all, whilst your son is in your heart for ever it may help you to find a kind of acceptance especially as Gavin will be there to give you the JOY of remembering – for there will be joy if you let it in.
    You talk about forgiveness – for your own sake you need to find it in your heart to forgive XXXXXXwho has seen all their dreams shattered. Yes, she’s young, maybe she will meet someone else BUT maybe she will not. Mum was 23 when Dad was killed, she’s 92 now. She never remarried, she never found anyone good enough to replace him.
    Perhaps XXXXXX will never find anyone good enough to replace Chris. I’m sure you could understand that.

  • 9. thatwoman  |  December 29, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Anne, I did take XXXXXXX name out of your comment as I have out of respect to Chris not mentioned her name. But as I said for me to forgive I have to understand and I don’t understand any of this …. I don’t much care to be totally honest with you what she does or doesn’t do she is no longer part of my life or to the closest thing left on this earth to Chris Nikki.. ( by her own actions) .. Nikki told THE “mother” How can you do this …. you are looking at the closest thing on this earth to Chris ..I am Chris ….( that actually was confirmed even medically as she would have been his match for a stem cell transplant).

    No all I have to do is look at my mums little face see her struggling to understand what she ever did to this “family” to have such pain visited upon her and my poor husband.. forgiveness that is probably for a better kind of person than I am…. but I agree with you what is buried in a graveyard not of our beliefs is not my son…but unfortunately not all in my family can let that go…. I have written to the Cleveland Diocese though.which should prove interesting ….

  • 10. Mark  |  December 30, 2009 at 1:23 am

    I’ll be in touch tomorrow, Loraine. Some things goin’ on today, and I wasn’t myself.

    You were in a very difficult and uncomfortable position: There to support Chris and keep him up mentally and emotionally, yet you were also able to look at the cold reality of the situation. Asking the questions you wanted to ask would have defeated the support aspect of why you were there. That would be probably the most difficult conversation anyone could have with a loved one.

    I’m sure there are a number of us that would have to take the “gutless” label, too.

  • 11. dave cotton  |  December 30, 2009 at 1:52 am

    I agree 100%. Get it in writing folks!
    I couldn’t believe the behavior of my sibs when Mom passed. Mom would have been horrified.

    I have heard the same thing from others… Lots of horror stories out there.

  • 12. Loraine Ritchey  |  December 30, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Yes, that is the trouble Dave, and when your loved one marries outside of your faith and culture and add that and control into the mix well you have what is happening to us. Even when you think that you are all on the same page “within” your own family and culture welllllllll you know too well what can happen……….however the fighting usually starts right after not leaving it for 8 days and changing things….still I have learned a great deal in the last few months … one is that trust is never to be given lightly…..

  • 13. thatwoman  |  December 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Mark well because I didn’t and actually because I didn’t well you see what has happened I also didn’t confront XXXXX when I should have in Texas ( because basically Chris didn’t need a “family hassle and a division whilst he was also fighting for his life.)

    … there were a couple of times I opened my mouth when it was obvious that truths were being manipulated…and luckily I had emails to prove to my son what he was being told wasn’t accurate…… but then I realized how that knowledge hurt him so I shut up… least he didn’t see this division “for the lack of character and flaws” I didn’t want him hurt anymore and I didn’t want to be the cause of any more pain …….. The truth hurts…..

  • 14. Dawn Becklake  |  December 31, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Loraine – well that brought a tear to my eye about Jill – especially today being ‘the end of the year’ etc. but did laugh at the bit about the Diocese?? what have you done now? It all takes a lot of ‘guts’ to go on writing – watch your step! As Anne said ‘the rest of your family need a Gutsy lady’ – so love to you all across the Pond and better things for us all in the New year – Dawn XXX

  • 15. thatwoman  |  December 31, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Oh ! Dawn ask me no questions I will tell you no lies , more to come on the Diocese side…, but you might be finding out a few things about “our family’s connection to religion” and the reason why your Dad used to say some of us had our legs on upside down!!!! the Wegg legs.. came from an Archbishop on your Dad and my mum’s side. just note that is family lore and I will have to find out the truth ( have to talk to mum tonight ,, see what she remembers about it but I believe he got defrocked so the story goes for marrying beneath his station 🙂 …. I am on the down side of life and could care less where I am stepping anymore 🙂

  • […] the time he could talk but I couldn’t bring myself to discuss what would happen if he died- I just couldn’t do it – he was fighting so hard to just […]

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December 2009

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