I am sitting at my desk trying to sort the mounds of paper that accumulated in the two years I have been helping my mother. The fog of grief prevents me from focusing on much more than just pitching old magazines, newspapers, and junk mail. Continue Reading →
It was sudden in the sense she was home, had been talking to us pretty well, and didn’t seem in any worse condition that the day before. I can look behind me and see her kidneys and bowels had been shutting down.
She was just at the doctor Wednesday and he didn’t seem concerned. He increased her lasix and ordered a bowel softener. I spoke with him after hours Thursday and he didn’t seem worried. But we also discussed how delicate of a dance it is to treat the heart without damaging the kidneys.
She couldn’t get to the bathtub so I gave her a sponge bath around 5. She got her evening medicines then seemed a little groggy, but they did that to her. She kept throwing her leg off the bed, sat up a couple times but didn’t want to go to the recliner. Her legs were ice cold, but I blamed that on the fluid she was holding. I kept going in to lift her leg back onto the bed.
I could see her from my seat at the dining room table and around 9 I could tell she wasn’t right. We called 911, got her to the floor, and I started CPR. The medics got there around seven minutes and worked with her another 20 minutes or so. Nothing worked and there were never any signs of her coming back.
We knew things were bad, but not that they were near the end. She would get a little better but we knew she wouldn’t get well.
We spent the past days getting things arranged, finding out if there was enough insurance for the service (there is), and ordering flowers. I hope to spend today catching up my housework, getting clothes ready, and only going out to vote and meet with the pastor at Dad’s at 11.
I believe Scripture tells is there is no communication between the living and the saints in heaven. I also believe we do not take memories of this earth to heaven with us. If it were possible, I would only ask Mom to tell Bryan I love him.
If you don’t make it out I totally understand. I just wanted to let you know. You don’t use Facebook and we aren’t in any forums that you would have seen it. You know me well enough to know I won’t be mad if you can’t make it.
My second son, and last of my children, was born May 1, 1989. He weighted 1 pound 9 ounces and spent 99 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. His first three years was filled with hospital stays, speech and physical therapy, and the struggle to catch-up to the other children his age.
The last three years of Bryan’s life were nearly as difficult as the first. As a minor, he was charged with a sex crime. Charged with no witness, no physical evidence, and charged nearly three years after the supposed incident. Charged, coincidentally, three days after an unrelated physical altercation I, his mother, had with the mother of the so-called victim.
He was held one-year in Boston, under the charge of enticing a minor. The judge said, due to the seriousness of the charge in WV (charges now, not conviction) he wanted to hold my son. Then, the Boston charges were dropped after a forensic exam of the intended “victim’s” computer hard-drive. Apparently, the girl had a habit of telling guys her parents abused her, then asking them to rescue her. She also told men she was a virgin, or pregnant, depending on her mood.
Once back in West Virginia, he took a plea deal on the original charge [against my counsel] to “get this over with” so he could “move on.”
Part of the plea deal required Bryan to attend the Anthony Correctional Center, in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. There, Bryan attended weekly counseling sessions, worked in the library, and took college classes. He completed his time there without incident. Well, without incidents according to the records. On at least one occasion, Bryan had a bruised face when I visited with him.
But, something wasn’t right. Almost four weeks to the day, after Bryan came home, he hanged himself. He left no note. He gave no sign to family. He texted a girl in Kentucky that he was in a very dark place, had everything he needed, but was afraid. Then, nothing.
Bryan was working for me, while he got back on his feet, and didn’t answer my texted asking if he was up and ready for work. My father walked to his place to rouse him, but instead, found him. My mother called me in a panic, screaming in the phone for me to get over there “RIGHT NOW!”
When I arrived, I went straight to Bryan’s door. My father had gone to get my older son, for help. It took less than a second for my brain to process what I saw. My son, hanging from a leather strap. His face was gray. His mouth swollen. His tongue protruding and dark. He had been dead for some time.
I read up on suicide by hanging. If done “correctly” the person doesn’t realize what’s happening. Once the blood flow is cut off, the person becomes unconscious quickly, and never knows anything else. There is no way to change your mind. It’s over in seconds.
The pain of suicide is felt by those left behind. Those who find the body. Those who must suddenly make funeral arrangements. If someone dies in an accident, you know it was something uncontrollable that caused it. If they die during an act of crime, you have that act to blame. But, with suicide, especially with no note, there is no understanding.
And the pain of grief is complicated by the pain of not understanding.
What is it that allows some people to move on, following a traumatic event, while others just shut down? How can two people witness the same tragedy and have two completely different reactions? I don’t know either. Whatever it is, I apparently have the stuff that allows me to move on.
I can’t say my childhood was traumatic. Oh, there were fights with neighbor kids, pets that died, parents arguing, and normal things like that. It wasn’t until I was in 10th grade that I experienced my first, true traumatic event. I saw my good friend get hit, and killed, by a car.
Kim was coming to the house to go to the high school football game. I think DuPont (us) played Charleston High that evening, October 17, 1981. I was in the band and my mother hauled equipment in our van. Kim was going to ride in the van so she didn’t have to pay to get in. She rode the KRT (city bus), and I met her at the four-lane. Instead of waiting for the bus to pull out, Kim walked around front, just like you do a school bus. A woman was speeding past and struck her.
Then, in 1982, I lost my first child, Victoria. I married my first husband, in May, when I was 17. That August, my first child was born, three months premature. My husband was in the Army. The Red Cross flew him home in time to see her. She passed after just a few hours. We buried her at Graceland, in Ruthlawn where so many of our family rest.
In 1984, we lost another child. This time we were at Fort Hood, Texas. He was in PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course) and was not allowed to leave the campus. When the contractions became noticeable I was home, alone. I drove myself to the Army hospital. The ER refused me and said to wait till the OB-GYN Clinic opened, several hours later. By the time I was examined, the doctor was furious and shipped me straight to the Labor and Delivery floor.
The hospital wasn’t equipped to handle a premature child like Angela. She died within minutes. I made her funeral arraignments from my hospital bed, because her father wasn’t allowed off campus. We flew her home, so she could lie with her sister.
The next child, a son, managed to make it nearly full-term. It wasn’t without difficulties. My files were flagged as high-risk. At the first sign of trouble I was confined to the hospital, in bed. I would be fine for three or four days, then start contracting again. My cervix was sewn shut and I remained on medication to stop labor. Sometimes it didn’t work.
Eventually I was flown to San Antonio, Lackland Airforce Base, until I reached the point where my son would be OK. It was a three hour drive from Fort Hood, so I rarely saw my husband. I went home on a Friday in January, 1986. My son was born the following Monday, a healthy six pound two ounce squalling bundle.
In 1989, my younger son, and last child, was born at 24 weeks gestation. He was one pound nine ounces, thirteen inches long. He stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit 99 days. His first three years was mostly doctor visits and hospital stays. When he was about five, he seemed to turn a corner. He didn’t get sick as often. He was pretty well caught up, developmentally, with the other kids his age. Other than a mild eye-glass prescription, his eye-sight was good.
A few years ago, my younger son was accused of a crime. There were no witnesses, no evidence, just an accusation. But, the accusation cost him a position in the WV Air National Guard. It caused him to be held in a Boston jail for a year, just in case, for something he didn’t do. It took a forensic exam of someone’s hard drive to get him released and the charges dropped. In that time I traveled as often as I could to visit him.
After two years of court hoopla, he took a plea, telling me he just wanted to get it over. He spent nearly a year at the Anthony Correction Center in Greenbrier County. I visited him every two weeks. Then, four weeks after he came home, he hung himself.
I buried my third child.
It’s been almost a year to the day that we found him. I am still moving on. Slower, I’ll grant that. But I am still moving on. How? Hell, I don’t know.
I was told many years ago that G-d doesn’t put more on you than you can handle. And I know that Jesus said, “…if you have the faith of a mustard seed” you can move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) These things must be my mountains.
I know the physical and emotional pain are temporary. Like a significant injury, they will heal in time, often leaving scars. While I am not the greatest Christian on the planet, I have to trust in Christ and the Father that things will work out.