Posts filed under ‘death’
At first, after you died I girded myself for the arrival of the mailman – sympathy cards, notifications in your name, even the ones from the monuments people wanting us to purchase you a headstone- at least they recognized your family should have a say. As the months disappeared into years pretty much the only mail for you would be the yearly invite to a “four-wheeler” event.
Last week however, Monday , found me opening your letter calling for you to submit work created between January 2015 and December 2016 for AIGA Cleveland . My breath was only sucked out of me for just a few moments and although I was in a foul mood and very touchy for the rest of the day, causing everyone around me to tread on eggshells, I managed.
Then the mailman knocked on the door three days later with a registered letter from the Cleveland Clinic – I can’t abide that conglomerate of medical management http://my.clevelandclinic.org/ This letter was from the Andrology Laboratory and Reproductive Tissue Bank.
Apparently they were updating records and it came to their attention you had passed away “our condolences” (written as an after thought) but we need to dispose of what remains of your son’s life ( my words) hereto known as the “sample” .
I was confused, incredulous , not sure what I was reading – yes I remembered you, on doctor’s advice, had banked sperm before the chemo. I had wondered weeks after your death what would happen. I didn’t do anything because since the Lombardis and the then your wife – Angela Ritchey ( now Dr. Angela Murphy- http://my.clevelandclinic.org/staff/16147-angela-murphyespecially Sue Lombardi ,had made ALL the decisions as to what would be happening with you, my son and your mortal remains, with no input from his family – they would have seen to this as well. I hadn’t realized you had designated me in this instance.
And here it was -the Clinic apparently had not “disposed of ” (their term) the sample upon your death as contracted . Now, I have to make the decision to call them re maintaining the samples – should I do nothing they will commence the disposal on what would ironically be your wedding anniversary !!!!
I read and reread the letter , my gut churned, my mind ran amuck – this planet still holds your life essence and the cavalier Clinic wanted to tell me they were once again in disposal mode.
I cried ,gasped for air, memories became reality once again in the ensuing hours. Everything came rushing back – emotional incontinence, anger , disbelief, pain returned full force.
Thoughts of what could be , what should have been, pulling the plug conference in that damned hospital – stony faced Lombardis – removed from the emotions of your death – sitting at that conference table looking like they were smelling bad fish and hoping against hope I would agree to your being taken off life support. Inconvenient, if I wouldn’t agree as Sue Lombardi had already picked out the “coffin clothes”. https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/an-open-letter-mama-sue-lombardi/
I wasn’t thinking straight –
I could get legal advice about maintaining the “sample” – you see to me was more than a “sample” it was my grandchildren that would never be- the life essence of my son and yet there was hope still– surrogate mother ran through my head- what would that cost? and then the darker thoughts of what did they mean by “disposal ” did they dump your “essence of life” into medical waste, the toilet , down a sink? My mind raged , bled and remembered……
Logically I know, you had signed the contract your “sample” should be “disposed of” after your death, so I believe that is what you wanted. Even if I could find a surrogate – it would be sheer selfishness on my part to bring a child into the world when I am surely heading out of it before they would be grown and finally you had a blood cancer when the “sample of life” was taken, I couldn’t take a chance that any child born would have a chance of cancer.
I haven’t responded to the Clinic as yet- although I know I will have to but it is hard to once again have to pull that plug……….
I love you ………
It is snowing – probably more snow falling in the last 24 hours than we have had all winter. I knew the 65 degree February days were just teasing us into a false sense of spring. The wind and snow have blinded the view from the den, my eyes can only see the trees and garden, dancing white swirls blocking the ugliness of reality for just a brief while. I honestly don’t know where the hours days weeks and months have gone since you died -they seem to have disappeared or not been lived. I am constantly surprised when seeing the date or year number.
After you died I spent the days “preparing” – I cleaned out closets, threw away things that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone but me. I prepared the house and my life for my death. You see, I really believed I would not be able to live with this gutting grief and yes physical pain. I was sure I would join you before 6 months was out. That didn’t happen, I am still here on yet another March the 3rd along with an aching coldness that will not pass even in summer…….
The closets have acquired more “stuff”, the house- which I had decluttered became even more cluttered when Nana came to live and I had to put 6 rooms of her “stuff” into this house. Life and clutter carried on to the point there will be more to deal with in this house than before.
Then with all the talk of “government” and “immigration” the wondering hit me-
just what did I do with my citizenship papers , passport etc
I knew I had put them safe somewhere . The strange thing about having a brain in pieces parts , divided up, one part living in 2009- the part that functions independently of my consciousness – the sleeping brain, that doesn’t -that bleeds over into mornings so another part has to decide
is that a memory , did that happen or was that the part of my brain trying to sort through the clutter?
the regular daily functions, we all experience, gets lost somewhere along with the happiness part – which sometimes does make an appearance. In all this brain clutter I couldn’t remember , for the life of me , where these very important papers ended up. The problem was neither could your father, we are both on “automatic pilot brain function” most of the time.
As we searched the probable places , I purchased a fire proof lock box for these items, your nana’s important papers and dad’s. Your dad informing me we had two lock boxes in the basement , which he couldn’t find . I had visions of us running from the upstairs to the basement and den in an emergency trying to find lock boxes and Nana’s important stuff, dads “stuff” and mine, No! I had to gather all this “stuff” together for my sake and whomever was eventually going to have to sort through them .
Finally we did find the papers and files. I started to go through them and realized I was sorting my life– my birth certificate, baptismal, marriage certificate, passport, citizenship papers ,social security, mortgage papers, Nikki’s birth certificate and then your birth certificate, baptismal, social security card, graduation … your life papers came to the top of the pile . My brain overloaded- stopped holding back the walls dividing memories, grief, happiness, laughter reality and memories, anger ,pain, loss of hope- the good and the bad and yes the ugly- lessons learned , lessons unlearned all spilling out of the “hoarding” in my mind.
I never realized how hard this “preparation” would be – it seemed so simple to transfer those items and yet I should have known, been prepared. Nana came down with her “life ” to be added to the box and I could see she also had been on a journey as she sorted through –
“Oh! Loraine don’t ask me to do that again, that was a very difficult afternoon- it was so hard as the memories wouldn’t stop coming …………….
I love you Chris and I wish I could touch your face, hear your voice, and forget the clutter that is now me………
This past week has seen Carrie Fisher die and a day later her mother Debbie Reynolds die of what is being called a broken heart.
There has been much too-ing and fro-ing as to whether you can die of a broken heart or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy,
also known as transient apical ballooning syndrome, apical ballooning cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy, broken-heart-syndrome and simply stress cardiomyopathy, is a type of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy in which there is a sudden temporary weakening of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart). Because this weakening can be triggered by emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one, the condition is also known as broken heart syndrome. It has also been reported in cases of partial drowning. The presence of a trigger such as emotional or physical has been reported in 33% to 100% of the cases.
Just a month and a half after you passed I wrote a post
And I have felt the pain in my chest, it is like a tight band , a crushing and tightening , it interferes with breathing, as if something has stopped my lungs from filling with air, holding ones breath too long underwater is a similar sensation . Just when you think you will drown in the pain and grief you surface , an explosion of tears and sobs pulling you back from the depths, a relief but also knowing that you have also lost an opportunity to be released from the slow suffocation of sorrow that has become your world.
And here I am “living with a broken heart”. How is that possible? Maybe my physical heart was strong, maybe because of my daughter and grandchildren acting as some sort of emotional relief valve – I am still here. If you had told me that would be the case in those first months after you passed I would have said ” not possible this gutting pain of losing you would kill me” . Every day I amazed another day has passed, week, month year and I am still walking upright .
I believe the anger kept me upright, an anger at the despicable behavior at your death and afterwards . For some people faith keeps them going but I know for me it was the combination of anger at “that” family, as well as the need to be there for my daughter and mother has continued to keep me on the planet. I also believe because I can write on this blog pouring out my heart has provided a relief valve of sorts.
What happens should I let go of the anger will my heart finally break; the anger stays because what was done I cannot undo………..
I love you Chris, with all the pieces of my broken heart.
“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol
The lights decorating the houses blurred through tears, were wished away. No Christmas cards were opened as they lay on the mat intermingled with sympathy cards- my mother became the keeper of the cards . I wished the merriment over, I wished it all to go away. I had lost hope , my son, my belief in kindness in death (thanks to Tim and Sue Lombardi, their daughter and their “priest” , their “will of control”- that wickedness not forgiven.
What faith I had was taken with his Chris’ last breath and as I saw the faces of his church- going holier than thou in-laws , the look on his brides face, no grief there just a relief there would be no long term dealing with his illness. The haunting of a Christmas past not forgotten as lights twinkle and candles burn.
And yet Christmas comes again and again and once more I am caught up in its intrusiveness . I still “visit” Christmas – how do you deny the children, my grand children, their excitement, their belief in goodness , the love for all the trappings- they refuse to “tone down” Christmas. Christmas for them explodes with laughter and happiness- as it should be.
Christmas has been “managed in this house” – no tree adorns the living room, my mother sends and receives cards decorated her Christmas grotto in her little living room. Gone are the Christmas Past, Christmas present but the world of children’s wonder is visited.
Still the cry – Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, fought over as to the “greeting- the dogma of belief that your “holiday of religion” is the “real one” and Christian or not you should be caught up in Merry Christmas continues to wreak havoc around the world. .
I shop for little ones on line- and venture out only to get my daughter her special present , the children will receive their over the top present from Chris- the “Chris-miss- present”
On this latest trip to “holiday” as I waited in the line of ” holiday traffic” the radio started playing the “holiday happy music” as I reached to turn it off I realized this wasn’t one I had heard before ( maybe I had and had just forgotten). The song fitted my mood. I listened for a bit then traffic and horns of a different kind were blaring. I came home and went to the computer pulled up the song ( now forty years old )- another decade indeed another century – Vietnam- the Middle East the death and dying continuing. The song topped the UK charts – maybe it didn’t get played here in Lorain – it was controversial- this “Christmas Song” was one that struck home .
“I Believe in Father Christmas” is a song by English musician Greg Lake with lyrics by Peter Sinfield. Although it is often categorized as a Christmas song, this was not Lake’s intention. He said that he wrote the song in protest at the commercialization of Christmas. Sinfield, however, said that the words are about a loss of innocence and childhood belief. Released in 1975, the song reached number two on the UK Singles Chart.
They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the virgin’s birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A winters light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire
They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
And they told me a fairy story
’till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in father Christmas
And I looked to the sky with excited eyes
’till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise…………………
And so another Christmas comes and the questions linger along with the pain…..
I, purposely, have not taken drugs to get me through your death – mainly because I don’t think losing my son is something I can “get through” there is no “other side” to the place I now find myself. I could become numb , anesthetized if you will, to the grief should I take medication, but it doesn’t change a damn thing.
Once the drug wears off everything is still there after all these months and now years. Nothing will be changed. You still will have received that crushing phone call. I will still see your face as you walked in the door that day after receiving the news “Cancer”. I will still see you hooked up to poisonous drips , the pain, the hope going, the fear , trying to be brave for my sake , those days in that horrible, factory -like Cleveland Clinic, the tears running down your cheeks silently squeezed out of the corner of your eyes as they prepared to put you in the vent and those terrifying days of death.
Those memories are with me day in and day out, they play as if on some vicious cycle , cutting across thoughts , memories and day to day life.
Somehow, in this state of grief, I have seemingly managed to split myself into sections inside my mind. The loop of your dying days plays continually and the rest of my brain seemingly functions carrying on doing what needs to be done to deal with everyday life . Night and exhaustion will eventually bring sleep but even then the loop continues playing.
My “other” brain tries so hard to put my thoughts and events of the day in some sort of order to file away and make some sense . I have some very, very strange dreams as this aging mind tries to put together a story in which to add to the “memory card”. I can’t explain the process but it seems somehow being fragmented of mind I can actually now watch from another place ( inwardly) as my brain function tries to sort out the sound bites of the day
I seem to have acquired an ability when supposedly asleep to “watch my mind” trying to function as though looking at a computer monitor with more than one browser open and active. I know , sounds like the men in white coats should be called, but I assure you this happens , maybe the neurons are running amuck between my
Reptilian Brain, Cognitive Brain and Mammalian Brain
T.Harv Eker said it this way, “When the subconscious mind must choose between deeply rooted emotions and logic, emotions will almost always win.”
I know on the one level I am asleep and dreaming and I “am” involved in the dreams, but I am also the outside of that part of my mind watching and remembering the dreams as they play out trying to make sense of my day, a multi-tasking mind.
For instance recently in one my many nightly dreams ” I” was a submarine commander ( must have been the Run Silent Run Deep movie I watched ) dealing with transporting turkeys ( guess what that was) to a place where my mother was waiting to board a plane dressed as Catherine the Great. More worrying being Lucille Ball having an affair with Fred Metz….. . Yes! I remember all of the day’s sound bites being lumped story-like for filing in some part of my “storage memory” when I am supposed to be at rest and healing.
And yet, the loop of you, the cancer, the dying days still continues to play over and over at the same time – running always in the background of thoughts.
I believe I know why this is happening – it is because for so many months and months I tried to “fix ” the Cancer, I tried to find a way to keep my promise to you that I would always be there to protect you – a promise I made the first time I held you in my arms. I never gave up trying even that last day- December 3rd- I thought somehow they would take you off that vent and you would wake………. .
I promised you – I would never give up and would move heaven and earth to save your life. I told you that before the SGN 35 and trips to Houston. I was still trying to find a way, somebody, some cure, some solution – even on the day you died.
I gave my mind/ brain a task that February day when you learned of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma invading your body and our lives. The task it was given was to find a successful outcome – there wasn’t one , but it was the most important task given to my brain and I believe somehow my brain, like some computer on overload, is still searching for the solution and will keep searching playing out the problems the issues until it either explodes in the futility of finding that solution or when it is switched off for good…..
I love you and all my yesterdays are today……
BECAUSE THOSE WHO ARE VALIANT AND SERVE FREEDOM -THEIR STORIES AND STRUGGLES CROSS OCEANS , SEAS OF TIME AND NATIONS – AGES – SHOULD NEVER BE FORGOTTEN… a reprise
I have always tried to Remember those who fought on November the 11th – from granddads, uncles and my father- to my generation, my husband USAF, my cousins and to those friends who have lost their sons to war.
I was pleased and touched the last piece of art work produced by my son was in honor for another young man who gave his life for his country ( in remembrance)- Eric Barnes .
I was reminded on Remembrance Sunday, as I walked through the dining room, of my father . I hadn’t looked at his medals in a very long time as they hung over the sword he bought me ( The Sword of Charlemagne ) incase I ever did Camelot again. He was coerced into polishing up a sword for the theatrical production in which I was involved -a lousy job and one he decided he wouldn’t do again – hence the purchase of the sword !
There was a lot of dust, the ribbons had lost their sharp colours over the decades and they decidedly needed a clean . I knew some of his medals were gone – RN Long Service and Good conduct Medal, The Arctic Star and the Oak cluster – I had used them to pin my dolly’s clothes when I was just a little one.
Although I had written about his Royal Navy Career in the series along with my mother’s remembrances of those days of world war two –
I can’t really remember having ever “looked ” closely at the medals.
I was surprised at the number of theatres of war in which he had been involved. And then, I remembered this man , my father who had been in the Royal Navy before war broke out and had seen so much in those terrible years was only 28 years old when Victory was declared – my mother 26-. War is for the young they say ……
THE AFRICA STAR******
Naval personnel anywhere at sea in the Mediterranean or in harbour in North Africa, Malta or Egypt between the above dates will qualify. Those serving in direct support of the Eritrean and Abyssinian campaigns between certain other specified dates will also qualify.
THE ARCTIC STAR**** The Arctic Star is granted for operational service of any length north of the Arctic Circle (66 degrees, 32’N) from the 3rd September, 1939, to the 8th May, 1945, inclusive. The Arctic Star is intended to commemorate the Arctic Convoys and is designed primarily for the ships of the convoys to North Russia and their Escorts. •Royal Navy and Merchant Navy: naval and Merchant Navy service anywhere at sea north of the Arctic Circle to include, but not limited exclusively to, those ships participating in, and in support of, Convoys to North Russia
THE ATLANTIC STAR******
The Battle of the Atlantic took place between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 as German U boats, aircraft and surface vessels attacked the convoys transporting valuable supplies from America and the colonies to Britain.
Warships of the RN and aircraft of the RAF escorted the convoys, hunted the U boats, fought German ships and, despite some notable German successes, the allies won a comprehensive victory in the Atlantic
THE ITALY STAR Naval personnel must qualify first for the 1939 to 1945 Star before the Italy Star can be awarded. It is then awarded for service at sea in the Mediterranean between the above dates provided that it was directly connected with active operations in the Mediterranean theatre.
George VI Medal *****The duration of the Second World War in Europe was from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, while in the Pacific Theatre it continued until 2 September 1945. The War Medal 1939–1945 was instituted by the United Kingdom on 16 August 1945 and was awarded to all full-time personnel of the armed forces and merchant marines
Oak Leaf awarded to personnel who have been mentioned in despatches in action with the enemy (all environments) in war.
I believe ,in researching my dad’s history, a mention of the incident for which he was mentioned in despatches
1400 – Explosion in our ship don’t know whether we hit or what it is yet someone gave a scream.
1445 – Explosion was heater drain observation tank in boiler room exploding. 2 stokers seriously scalded and 1 fractured elbow.
We left Harmatris to two Russian tugs and proceeded to Polyarnoe (Russia) at all speed.
I should like Commanding Officers of all Minesweepers to know that I fully appreciate the good work in the difficult conditions in the past few days searching, escorting, and hunting under the nose of the enemy sea and air forces. It does everyone, but especially the Engine room department, great credit that all ships have been ready for service whenever called upon and I am sure that valuable lives and ships have been saved by the good work performed.
CommanderSenior Officer, Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla “
The HMS Speedwell was a minesweeper and now a segue back to Lorain
and another naval man Admiral Ernest J King–
His tribute space has the flags flying – not on a flag pole but a ship’s mast and a “minesweeper mast” at that rescued from the from the old American Ship yard.
Old Mast at American Shipyard
( Now in place at the Admiral King Tribute Site 1st and Hamilton)
PLEASE TAKE A WALK THROUGH THE ERIC BARNES HEROES WALK THIS WEEK AND AS YOU REMEMBER THOSE THAT FOUGHT AND CONTINUE TO FIGHT – REMEMBER THEIR YOUTH -LOST – SOME WILL NOT GROW OLD AND DID NOT GROW OLD- AND THOSE THAT SURVIVED NEVER FORGOT – CHANGED FOREVER.
Every time I scroll down on the right side to log in to the admin section of this site I watch as the years , months, days of posting of my life on this blog slide by. The dying days still there , the crushing phone call that started all the pain, the hope, the horror and the vindictiveness of the days after your death.
Another 1st week of November – Houston – the time I dared to breathe- it is there chronicled
“Yesterday was the first restaging of my son after having 6 infusions ( one a week with one week off) for the drug SGN35. The scans have shown clear– he is responding well so far and although he is having trouble with some of the side effects – it looks like the drug is working on the Cancer. “
How untrue that was because a month later you were gone and your remains and any dignity associated with death snatched by selfishness and control by those who never really knew you.
Each month on the third I write about you , it is my therapy, it is my way of telling your story that you lived, were loved unconditionally, made a difference. You won’t go down in any history books, you are all but forgotten and “re written” by “the others” and of those that called you “friend” but you existed- you changed our world, you were loved beyond all tears. That love grows it does not dissipate in a “do over world” of some. My anger doesn’t dissipate.
Some might think I am crazy, crazy in my grief, that could well be. I know this grief that fractures, tears at one, opens wounds daily, will not be denied, anymore than the love of my son can be denied.
I carry within me the six basic human emotions ” happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.” but to those that have lost a son or daughter mere “sadness, anger ” is not adequate in its description , the fear felt as the dying days were lived through is an abomination in its simplicity.
We are changed, emotions magnified beyond all knowing, unless you have walked where we have walked, reached out helplessly to anyone, anything, any god, the stars , screamed at the enveloping darkness that comes with the terror of knowing the hope is gone you will never understand . We are undone……
And yet it is love that feeds this terrible ache of missing , a love not waning , not forgotten, you my son still have a story to be told and I am trying to find the strength to tell it, a love that transcends the veil.