Monday, July 27, 2015

Three AM Friends.....

In our lives we are given only a few friends that we know with 100% certainty that we can pick up the phone at three in the morning for whatever reason, call, and they will be THERE.  Whether it is a shoulder to cry on, someone to go with you to the hospital with an injured child, or help with hiding the bodies (well, theoretically....) there are, perhaps, at any given time in your life only one to three people you could call on and not feel at all bad about it, knowing that they could, in turn, call you.

Last week I while was out of town for our annual mission trip.  My good friend B (we met twenty-six years ago in an exercise class for pregnant women when I was carrying Citygirl) came into town from Florida to help prep for Citygirl's wedding, not realizing that I was gone.  She stopped by the house, ran some errands for Citygirl and made plans to return this week, using the extra time to catch up with her many other local friends. 

Except, she didn't.

Sometime Friday she pulled her car off the road and called 911 for assistance.  We don't know why.  They responded quickly but by the time they arrived it was too late to help her. 

And like that, she is gone.

The police needed someone to identify her, and came looking for me, which was how Citygirl was notified of her death.  Another of her older friends was located for that sad task, sparing Citygirl that grim necessity.  Citygirl sent me a text instructing me to call her when we came into cell phone service range (Central Appalachia is generally not on the grid).

It was a sad ride home.

B was the kind of person who made friends in the grocery line.  She was kind to everyone. She was over the moon about her surprise pregnancy at the age of 42 (her first and only).  She cared for her parents until they died (just a couple of days apart) and came and cried on my  shoulder when they did. She opened her home to international students, friends, family and strangers.  She's the one who drove me to Philly while I did dialysis with Babygirl in the car (Week Twenty-four: More Gratitude....) when she herself had just driven over 1400 miles in the previous few days.  I helped her clean out her aunt's house after her death.  She offered to come and stay here to help if I needed it as my Mom declined.

She always put her whole heart out where it could be seen.  A true-blue three-AM friend. 

There is a new bottle of Irish Mist in my fridge.  I found it yesterday when I was looking for some vodka to mix with lemonade at the end of the day.  She must have dropped it off while she was here, planning to come back for an evening of drinks and stories on our new deck.  I wish I'd been here to have that drink with her. I wish she were still here to have that drink with me.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Twelve Hundred Miles......

It's been a long time since I made the Philly trip twice in one week (this time once for doctors' appointments for Babygirl and once for a family party), and I'd forgotten how tiring eight hundred miles of driving in one week can be. 

As I was recovering from the return trip on Sunday, I got a call from my stepmother.  "Your Dad is back in the hospital with pneumonia and he is not doing well at all....."

It took a couple of minutes to determine how bad she really meant he was, and to understand that what she really needed was help in deciding for sure what to do next. 

I called my brother. 

Bless him - despite the fact that we are both desperately busy right now, he with moving into a new home and we with preparing for the rapidly approaching wedding, he agreed to come along and do the driving.

It was after 7 PM when we left, and I fell asleep for over half an hour somewhere near the end of the drive (he actually didn't notice.  He continued to talk and he says I continued to respond.  I'm am quite glad I was not driving), and we arrived after 11. 

In the morning we discussed the situation with our stepmother:  Despite the fact that he was 'doing well' a week ago, 'doing well' was now limited to periods of being alert but disoriented, and being unable to eat solid food due to choking, being unable to hear or see, and of imagining that he was hanging out in Niagara Falls with my brother or that I was working in his nursing home.  On our last visit, less than three months ago, he had begged to get out and asked to die.  Currently he was desperately ill, not responding to antibiotics with another trial of antibiotics being contemplated.  We discussed her spiritual concerns, and her sense of guilt and helplessness in the face of his overwhelming decline.

We went to visit. 

When we arrived, he was unconscious and struggling to breathe.  His temperature was over 104 degrees F and he was under a cooling blanket because he wasn't responding to Tylenol.  He'd been given morphine to ease his breathing. 

We stayed for three hours.  His temperature came down and his breathing improved a little, but he never awoke or responded.  We talked with hospital staff (my brother remembers everybody from 30 years ago when we lived there, and everybody remembers him.  I am far less memorable!).  We shared memories.  We talked quality of life.  We discussed choices.

We gave him permission to stop fighting and let go.  We gave her the same permission and advice.  At this point even more antibiotics probably represent 'extraordinary measures' to keep him alive and he probably wouldn't approve; and in the end, they won't matter anyway.

And we came home.

I won't be able to be there when he dies, and I feel......horrible. 

I did what I know he'd want: I came home to my family and started doing what needed to be done here.  But...I want my Daddy.  I'm almost 60 years old, and I want my Dad.


PS At 5:30 this morning, he went home.