Tag Archives: Life

Life Goes On in 2016

The past year has been quite a roller coaster of emotions.

Last year we were informed that my sister-in-law had major surgery the week of Christmas. What was suppose to be a three hour surgery turned in to a marathon eight hour surgery.

The year before we were told my sister-in-law had cervical cancer. She was informed while she was pregnant and decided to go through with the pregnancy and had a beautiful baby girl. After the birth she began her radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

In January of 2016 we had a tumultuous New Year’s when our old car broke down on the freeway and we finally called in our family favor and got a new car thanks to my brother-in-law who works for a car dealership. It was his wife who was sick. We had hardly spoken to him or his wife about her illness. It wasn’t until we spoke with some of his colleagues that we were reassured that he had people who he could talk to about what he and their family were going through. We had always been concerned and attempted to talk to them both about what was going on with them but they were always very private and guarded.

I never blamed them for not wanting to talk to us about it. What did we know? How could we even begin to understand what they were going through? We don’t have children. They both have kids from previous relationships and new baby girl together. We lived in the city and they lived in the suburbs. We lived very different lives beyond those small things and it felt like this made the divide even wider. My sister-in-law and I were similar in some ways, but very different people and saw the world very differently. We were cordial to each other but not very close. My husband and his brothers were close, but the wives were a different story. We tried. We attempted. We just never seemed to find anything in common except for loving our husbands and our families.

My sister-in-law had always been a little vain. I remember the first time we met at a Mother’s Day brunch for my mother-in-law and she complained about the one grey hair she found and was trying to hide it. She was always well dressed for any occasion, whereas I had reused the same black dress for over a dozen family weddings. She always bought thoughtful gifts and we tried to figure who we could afford to get gifts for every Christmas. We may not have always gotten along but I respected her for always doing her best for her children and family and making my brother-in-law happy.

Then the news got worse. Multiple hospital visits. Emergency surgeries. Wheelchairs. Hair wraps and wigs. A colostomy bag.

She was in the hospital for almost a week when Mother’s Day came along. The entire family visited her in the hospital for the holiday. That was when I finally realized things were not going to get better. She could no longer walk on her own. She couldn’t hug or hold her daughter without assistance. I finally saw how much hair she had lost.

The day after she was released from the hospital we celebrated their daughter’s second birthday party at their home with immediate family. If things weren’t already heart breaking that was the day I wanted to scream. I don’t know how she did it but she walked. She stood in front of that birthday cake and had us sing “Happy Birthday” several times in a row. She must have been on a giant cocktail of drugs and had the iron will of a giant to push through all the pain she must have been experiencing and do everything she could for her daughter. We all realized this would be the last birthday party she would be able to attend for any or her children.

The rest of the summer we spent every spare minute visiting and bringing groceries for the family. Every weekend. Every summer holiday. We spent every moment with our family knowing that every moment counted. August was the hardest month. There were a few days when she wouldn’t wake up because she was in so much pain. The family gathered in vigil fearing the worst.

Then she suddenly had a burst of energy and was requesting her favorite foods. One day I came by after work bringing groceries that included artichokes. They were her favorite and she began to tell me how she made a dipping sauce for them. She asked if I could make them for her. I had never successfully made artichokes in my life. I did my best to not fuck it up. She called out to me while I was over and we talked about foods we both liked and how to cook them. It was the best conversation I’d ever had with her. When I got home I broke down in tears.

They had a hospice nurse helping them for a few weeks, but then the nurse said there was nothing else they could do to help and they stopped coming by. I was fearful of the kids being home alone should something happen. I started to go by the house everyday. Cleaning. Playing with the two year-old. Talking to the boys. Talking to her.

The day she passed away she was surrounded by family in her home. We got a phone call at  4 am that it happened. We rushed over to be with the family. We were all there when the coroners came to take her. We spent the next week together in mourning. Some preparing for the funeral. Others just coming to terms living in world without her.

After the funeral and after the reception we ended the night at their home with all of our family singing karaoke. That night my two year-old niece learned how to sing Prince’s “Purple Rain” all by herself. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and the most heart breaking moment realizing her mother didn’t get to witness it. Some people mourn in silence. That evening we mourned singing together at the top of our lungs following my niece’s lead.

Singing. Loving. Making new memories. Reliving old memories.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I haven’t thought about her. Remembered her. My niece is the living embodiment of her mother. Her memory lives on in her.


 

After the election these memories are even more important to me. Hearing how people are being treated and how words of hate are being used more and more against the people they are suppose to love makes it harder to stay silent.

Love each other. Cherish each other. This holiday season every memory counts.

 

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Inspiration Moment

The end of September is upon us and we have hardly had the time to realize what an impact some people have had on our lives.

Shortly after returning from our Honeymoon we were informed that a local friend had fallen ill and was in the hospital. He had been sick when we saw him the day before our wedding and we gave him our love and a hug before we left town. Within a few days after seeing him in the hospital a small group of friends started planning ways to help him and his family with medical costs. What first was a small barbecue quickly became a collaborative effort of friends and local businesses pulling their resources and manpower to pitch in.

In just over a week we have received almost 100 people who have promised to donate, contribute, and most of all, help our friend Eric when he needs us the most. I’m excited and overwhelmed by the love and responses from people willing to come together and make our city feel like a small town.

My husband and I have lived, worked, and loved being part of Long Beach for almost 10 years. We haven’t known him as long as others, but I can’t imagine a life, or a world, without him in it.

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Note of Worth

Things have gotten complicated. There are lots of things happening.

  • Work
  • Wedding
  • Financial Issues
  • Life Issues
  • Worries

Which is why I haven’t been staying on task with my musings as much as I would like to. I’ve written have a dozen drafts and published none. I have an almost finished piece on my Bridal Shower but every time I go to finish it, or attempt to publish it, something else gets my attention and I am required to let it sit while I attend to my real world problems.

This blog/journal was an attempt to keep things positive and happy, and possibly introspective. I haven’t been feeling that way lately. We are at the 2 1/2 month mark from the wedding and I’m feeling…lots of things lately. I’ve been fairly productive with small projects, and our bathroom is under minor construction at the moment (FINALLY!), but that also means I have take a shower…for a few days. Yuck.

The most recent moment of note was watching Man of Steel with a group of some of my favorite people. That same day I got a sunburn, a sinus infection from the A/C at the movie theater, and mild food poisoning from the theater coffee as well. Yet, I still considered it the best day I had this past week.

FIRST EPIPHANY

I guess what I’m really trying to say is I feel lost. There are only a handful of people I feel comfortable talking to about some of the more serious issues going on in my life at the moment. I often get this ominous feeling of dread, or anxiety, at very stressful points in my life and not many people can handle being around me, or really want to help or be there for me. I’m a bit abrasive, on purpose or by accident from time to time. It’s one of my most charming traits. Just kidding. However, I still have feelings, and people tend to forget that. They feel they can treat me like what I want, or what I feel isn’t real because I’m just being “crazy” or lately the new nickname is “bridezilla.” That’s just rude.

SECOND EPIPHANY

I also recently realized that I’ve been trying SO hard to be considerate of everyone else all the time and have tried to not be a burden of everyone around me that I’ve walled myself up and just feel like I can no longer trust any of them by default.

When I say, “Wanna come with me to go shoe shopping and have a few drinks?” What I really want is just to spend time with you while being productive. “Wanna come over and play board games?” What I really want is to not talk about the wedding and just enjoy your company. “What’s going on with your wedding?” Cause I’m really tired of talking about mine. A lovely woman who I spoke to about my wedding with joy in my voice a few weeks ago asked me about my wedding the other day and all I could muster was an “Ugh” response. Then I felt horrible for even vocalizing it. It was during a work function and I didn’t want to be distracted, and I was a little stressed in that moment. I tried to be chat with her about other things to avoid having my grumpy side lash out at her by accident. She seemed receptive and the event went well without further ugliness.

THIRD EPIPHANY

I’ve tried so hard to keep my negative side in check for so long that I feel like I’m going to burst with crazy! What helped to deflate the volcanic eruption was a well deserved face-to-face lunch with my Best Friend and Maid of Honor. We get each others grumpy cat alter egos. We’ve had years of practice. We’ve both been on the receiving end of a verbal slap to the face from one another so that we can now help to burst that bubble before it has a chance to do more harm to any one else. However, at the end of yesterday I felt that sense of dread again. It wasn’t because my BF/MOH didn’t help, it was because it was more than just the little things that finally brought me down at the end of the day.

“Aren’t you excited for your big day? It’s coming up soon!” asked an Aunt at my Bridal Shower.

“Yeah, I guess. I’ll be excited when I have nothing else to do, and it’s finally here. And I’m on my honeymoon.” I responded.

It may not be what people want to hear, but it’s the honest truth. What I’d really like is to get back to my real life and have people ask me about that instead.

Watch me get CRAZY on Twitter, and pretend my problems don’t exist on Pinterest!

 

 

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Spain, Here I Come!

Craft Camera Cozy

In two weeks I will be traveling outside the U.S. for the first time in my life!

It has taken me a long time to get here, and I’ve tried in the past to travel but I was never able to get things together to make it happen. I always convinced myself something else was
more important. School, money, work, family, you name it and it took my attention away from what I had planned for myself, and I convinced myself I would never be able to afford to take some time off to experience the world.

The big day is around the corner and I’m excited. I got myself a new digital camera, reading up on the places I want to visit (Seville, Granada, Malaga, and Ronda), getting my cash exchanged in to Euros, hotels and flights confirmed. Everything seems to be falling in to place for once and it feels good.

Everything might not be perfect at the moment, but for once I feel like I have control over what I want to do with my life and nothing can stand in the way of my happiness.

I’m really proud of myself for finally being able to do something like this, and I hope it’s not the last I last time I try.

Here’s to trying.

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Up Until Now

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday.

I don’t feel thirty. I hardly look thirty. Yet, I have a lot to be thankful for at my age: loving boyfriend, family, friends, a house, car, cat, and a fairly stable job (as much as one can have one working in the arts).

There are still a lot of things I haven’t done with my life: traveled out of the country, finished my bachelor’s degree , found a better and more stable job. These things may seem small in retrospect and I’ve done fairly well without finishing college, but in order to get further in my career I’ll have to eventually go back and finish what I started. Unfortunately, with only me working full-time I can’t afford to go back to school any time soon.

On another note…at the end of last year my boyfriend and I finally decided to plan and save to travel to Spain in November, using his mother’s time share. Luckily, she’s also offered to pay for his plane ticket so we’ll only have to save for mine, which is AMAZING! Now we don’t have to worry about saving for two plane tickets AND spending money. One more thing to check off the list of stuff to do this year.

This year started with such a shitty kick to the teeth that it’s hard to stay positive sometimes. It’s been hard to stay focused, relax, and not get bogged down by inconsequential things in life. For example, this evening before dinner I had a sudden urge to reorganize and move around furniture in my living room for my birthday party this weekend. Why? Because some how in the back of my mind changing hunks of furniture makes me feel like I have some sort of control over the things in my life. I have rearranged furniture in this living room several times.

Organizing, cleaning, planning, managing; it’s how I cope for all the things that have happened in my life that I can’t control. Usually smoking helps me cope with these anxieties, but lately I haven’t been partaking in any vices since my friend’s death. No coffee, no alcohol, no smoking, no sugars (Update: had a cup of coffee for breakfast and it was totally worth it! A birthday donut from my co-worker, also amazing. I’ll start abstaining again on Sunday… Maybe…) Mostly due to being sick and not wanting to press my luck, but also because I wanted to see if I could. I will probably pick up smoking again since it helps alleviate my migraines and neck/shoulder tension. Trust me, smoking has helped me tremendously in handling my stress levels. I’ve always hated taking too many pills to help stop the pain, and most prescribed medicine for either has never helped me long-term like smoking has. While I was still in college I had carpal tunnel in both hands from going to school full-time, working part-time, doing theatre work on nights and weekends,and in between working at my college newspaper, and commuting from East LA. Popping pills like crazy and trying to eat healthy was just not happening. Smoking was the only thing that kept me from doubling over in pain everyday. I, of course, over extended myself, but I’ve always wedged as much as I could in to my schedule because I never wanted to miss a moment. I don’t do that any more.

Now I’m too old (at least feel too old) to go clubbing, stay up past 2am, and go to a different bar every weekend. Nowadays I prefer to have friends over for dinner, throw potluck parties at the house, have brunch with friends, host craft nights, and spend quality time with my family when I have time off from work. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but mostly I feel like I’m too tired to please everyone. I have a hard enough time pleasing myself and living up to my own expectations.

Look bitches, just give a girl a call for her birthday, or swing by the house for my party this Saturday and all will be well.

Love moi. ❤

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Everything’s a Blur

Since last week life has been a bit more hectic than usual.

Everyone is jumping in to help organize different events in Lisa’s honor, which has been amazing! There’s an art show being organized, a club night being finalized, I’m working out the bugs in the slide show that will be presented at the funeral services with the family. No pressure. Everything has been working out so far, then I ran in to a bit of hurdle when the video software didn’t want to recognize the music we selected….dammit! After running into the video problems last night I wanted to smash the computer, and kept running through ideas in my head about how to go about fixing the audio problem (we have a solution, no worries), but everything seemed futile at the moment. It had just been working fine, right before my friends got there for dinner, and just before I tried to show them the video it decided to stop. Great. Well, we’re working on it, and should have it fixed soon.

I’ve also had this knot of stress building in my left shoulder since last week and it has been coming and going. Some days I want to stab my shoulder in hopes it will destroy the knot, other days I just pop a few pills and try to make it go away. Usually when this type of stressful knot appears I go to a professional massage therapist to have it dealt with, but sadly the funds are low, and I have no time to spare until AFTER the funeral. By then the knot will disappear and act like it never happened, like a bad one night stand that gave me herpes…or something like that.

Last Friday I had a mild break down after I got home from work. Work is a bit of a soap opera at the moment, so when I arrived at the house with the sounds of a busy kitchen, video games, and music, all I wanted was some quite. My boyfriend had to leave for work soon and I suddenly had a feeling of utter and complete dread. I couldn’t function on my own some how. I felt suddenly compelled to hurt everyone within spitting distance, and expel them from my home. I realize they had done nothing wrong, or hurtful, but I wanted everyone to disappear so badly it hurt. I ran away to my bedroom and tried some breathing exercises and stretched my shoulders because I was still in excruciating pain. When the boyfriend came looking for me he tried to help me out and I shunned him. I didn’t want other people touching me either. He politely reminded me he was leaving soon for work….and then I lost it.

I started crying and complaining that I wanted to be alone, I wanted everyone out of my home (it didn’t matter that they lived there too), and I wanted peace and quite.

He sadly sat there in silence and rubbed my shoulder while I whined and cried at the same time. This week was a blur. Every day that’s gone by since Lisa’s died has been hard. Photos, music, video games, knitting, TV on my DVR, talking, drinking, smoking, having dinner with friends, and nothing seems to be able to make me feel better.

I keep trying to remember to “Be strong, that’s what Lisa would do,” but then my shoulders crumble in a ball of pain and all I can think about is smoking another bowl and popping a few pills.

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In Honor of a Good Friend

2011 has started with a big slap to my face.

Besides the usual financial and car trouble I usually have this past weekend I was shocked to find out an old (very old) friend of mine died. Her name was Lisa. To write a small tribute doesn’t do her justice. She was vivacious, loud, positive, aggressive, and sometimes (with love) violent. She loved to bite the ones she loved (a trait I picked up from her), and we all took her love willingly. I was in shock when I first heard the news while I was at home. I didn’t want to believe what they were telling me, and I was in denial for a while until I got a second phone call from another friend confirming the news. I won’t go in to details about her death since it is still very painful for all of us to discuss it, and we want to respect the families wishes and not fuel the flames of idle gossip.

I met Lisa while I was in college at CSULB. I had already been working at my college newspaper, and some mutual friends wanted to check out the new Anime Club on campus. I was a bit nervous at first, because I secretly didn’t want to be outed as an Otaku. Then my friends told me it was tons of fun and I should come with them, just once, and see how I liked it. On my first visit to Anime Club I met a group of friends, now dubbed the LB Crew. From that first day onward all of us were inseparable. We did everything together. We had lunch, went shopping, went to the movies, watched anime, played video games, you name it we did, together!

We spent so much time together we all memorized each others school schedules so we knew who was available for lunch dates or movie outings. Our friend Ryan was the only one of us who didn’t live at home at the time and had an apartment in Long Beach not too far from campus. Thus began the LB Crews unofficial home base. Didn’t matter if Ryan was working or in school, we were at his home. Cooking, cleaning, planning, and having fun. We had marathons of Puzzle Fighter, Tetris, and Bust-A-Move instead of doing homework. We had our own Sushi and Prom themed parties where everyone did shots and took pictures with one another. We even helped pack all of Ryan’s things when he had to move out of his apartment! Everyone was there placing things in boxes while he was at work. By then it was Ryan, Shaun, and Lisa who decided to move in together in to another apartment in Long Beach. Her mother was NOT happy about her only daughter moving away from her parents, and we all knew how protective her mother was. She would warn us of her mothers wrath, but we all knew she loved both her parents. She was dedicated to her family and visited them every weekend, no matter what. She never talked about her father much, but some of us knew he was around and that she had two loving parents.

I was still living at home in ELA at the time they moved in together, but it didn’t take long before we were all meeting up at their place again. It was like a second home, a family of friends. We spent almost everyday, every weekend, every birthday together. It all seems like a blur of good times trying to remember all the silly things we did together. Lisa and I began to get closer, gossiping, chatting about our boy problems and trying to figure out our goals in life. I have one vivid memory of us walking to our respective classes together when she was lamenting some problems she was having with her boyfriend at the time, and I told her they would get through it together. I knew how much she loved him, and how much he loved her, and told her how sad I would be to see them breakup. I confided in her that she was one of my best friends and I wanted only the best for her, and I would support her no matter what. She seemed surprised by the revelation, but I meant every word.

I told her everything. As did a LOT of people. She loved to be there for people and listen to their problems. Lisa always had nice and positive things to say, and she never looked back, and encouraged all of us to do better. She was feisty and never held back her opinions on anything, and she had strong opinions on a lot of things. She loved fashion, design work, art, movies, and in my opinion, helped pen the term “Fashionista.” She used this term a lot before I heard it used any where else. Lisa lived with Ryan and Shaun for quite some time before she ventured out on her own and found another apartment two blocks away from the boys. At the time she planned to move in to the new apartment was also when she began to gain popularity with a group of online friends penned Otaku Booty. I was part of this online community for a little while, but Lisa and our other friends were all very popular on the site. Thus began her venture as an online socialite. She was amazing. She knew everyone, and I do mean everyone! Lisa was a multi-tasker. She could have five instant messaging conversations happening, two work projects going, and STILL keep talking to the person in the room with her. Lisa made friends easily, and began to help organize events which led us to gain more friends. They were dubbed (to us at least) the San Diego friends. Lisa never hesitated to visit our SD friends and would drive all over Southern California for all kinds of people she knew. From this online group of friends we made we all began to gather together (in real life) at parties and events where everyone was invited. And our circle of friends grew…

When Lisa found her new apartment one my other best friends named Melody also moved in with her, as well a friend she had made online named Umair, and unknown to her parents her boyfriend, at the time, Saul. The four of them made the place lively and comfortable. Lisa was always mad at Melody for saying they were roommates, not friends. I had brought Melody into the group of friends, by force, and she was immediately welcomed with open arms. I had also become closer to another friend from OB, who happened to be living close by in Long Beach, his name is Julian. With Lisa being busy with work and school, I began to get closer to Julian and Umair. I was also in the middle of a horrible breakup with a boyfriend, and needed to be around people and out of my house. I had already moved out of my parents house by then (a long side story on that later), and lived in Long Beach as well, a few blocks from everyone else. Lisa and I began to grow apart because we were both busy with school, life, and other diversions. I got closer and closer to Umair and Julian.

Then Julian moved to Seattle to live with a cousin and seek better job prospects, and shortly after his move all of us began to split apart.

Lisa loved being the center of attention, and since she was busy with school she began to get jealous that her housemates were hanging out with me, at her home, a lot. Now, in retrospect, I was there too much. However, I wasn’t working a lot, or in school, since I had run out of financial aid and couldn’t afford to attend college any more. I was also going through a rough time with my boyfriend at the time. Life sucked. So it hurt when suddenly Lisa banned me from the house. I knew it was bound to happen eventually, but it felt like I was banished from my second home. I tried to stay away, and not fuel the fire, but I couldn’t keep myself away from them for too long. I loved them. All of them. And especially Lisa. Even though I knew she was mad at me I couldn’t stay away. She was like a drug I couldn’t be without, and when I was away I felt alone and confused and didn’t know what do to with myself.

My friends were like my family.

Shortly after she had a falling out with Umair when he moved out, Lisa and I started to clash. Our spitfire personalities didn’t allow us to take a moment and realize what we were doing to each other. Some harsh words were written, exchanged, and passed along to others until finally we were no longer on speaking terms.

I was alone. Lost without my friends, and without my confidant. Sure, Melody is my best friend, but Lisa was there, everyday, up until we stopped talking. It was the beginning of the end.

I kept my distance because I didn’t want to cross paths with her wrath, our friends kept us separated because they didn’t want to take sides or see us fight. In the end what really kept us apart was our stubbornness and pride. I regret not sucking it up and confronting her with our issues so we could move on as friends. I regret not being there for her when Saul and her broke up. I regret not seeing her graduate from college. I mostly regret not being there for the last birthday she celebrated without me.

Over the last two years I started to reconnect with my old college friends and LB Crew, and every time we got together I felt she should be there as well. I even had thoughts of reaching out to her in hopes of having her at my 30th birthday party next month, and now she’ll never get to celebrate her own 30th birthday.

These past few days have been hard on us all. Each of us is coping in their own way. I will always miss and love Lisa no matter what, and I hope I can live my life to the fullest like she would have done. She never looked back and worked her hardest to be the best, and I hope I can do the same in her honor.

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It’s Been a While

The last two months have been a whirlwind of change. We had a flurry of family gatherings, then we squeezed in a trip up north, only to have a job offer in between. Only now, right before my birthday, do I get a chance to get back in to a rhythm working locally.

I took the bus to work a few days ago and it was pretty refreshing. Long Beach has some nice public transportation and it was only a short ride in comparison to the long routes I’m use to taking when I lived in LA.

Although, I must admit it has been a bumpy adjustment time wise. My sleeping pattern is shot right now and trying to get up early enough to run errands should be a lot easier.

Luckily, my birthday is around the corner and all this complaining has made me feel old and lazy. Oh well. Oh yeah, and thanks old co-worker for making me feel worse by making fun of my age. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy…and…feel like I want to punch a wall with someone’s face it on.

Besides my anger management issues, and being tired and old, life is good. It could be a lot worse.

BTW the photo below is a gift we received from a regular at my boyfriends coffee shop. It was too rad not to share. : )

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Life, Death, and Health care

I recently sat down to watch one of my favorite shows Real Time with Bill Maher, and found the discussion about health care intriguing. Bill Maher touched on something that I had been dwelling on: Death. How is health care reform going to change how the elderly are dealt with? By “dealt with” I mean as a person gets older they need more and more care that some families cannot afford, even if they have health care. If someone is old and dying should everything be done to help keep them living? Or should every option be explored to ensure their death is respectable? There is a difference between the two options, a very large difference that many people do not understand or really talk about until the moment is upon them.

The reason I linger on this touchy subject is due to the recent deaths in our families that made me realize how much more difficult it is to care for the elderly.  Earlier this year my boyfriends’ family suffered the loss of their grandmother, or Lola, as she was referred to in Tagalog. When I met her a few years ago she was already very old and frail. She had to be helped or carried by family members to get in and out of a car, to be seated in a chair with her feet raised and couldn’t get around very easily, or at all, by herself. She still had a strong mind, and when I was introduced to her for the second time she complained, “I know who she is!”

When she had a stroke the whole family, including us, ran to the hospital waiting room and spent almost everyday over the next week visiting her in the hospital. Turns out she had a blood clot in her brain that caused the stroke, one side of her face was slightly paralyzed, and she could no longer walk, or speak full sentence. She also had to be spoon fed soft foods because it was difficult for her to chew. To add insult to injury, as soon as she was released from the hospital a few weeks later she was rushed back. This happened quite often. Every couple of months the family got phone calls saying she was headed back to the hospital and every time we all feared the worst. This went on for over a year.

Their Lola has a very dedicated, close knit and caring family. It also helped that one of her daughters is a doctor, a few of them are nurses, and she even has grandchildren who are nurses, as well as one who is a lawyer. Some of them worked at the hospital she was admitted to. All of them stayed at her beside every night, taking turns in shifts to ensure someone was with her every minute and keeping open communication with her doctor and nurses. I witnessed the doctor being approached by several relatives as he explained, patiently and repeatedly, her current condition. She had the best care possible, but my heart still sank every time it happened.

I saw her suffer. I saw her family suffer. And worst of all I witnessed how she slowly slipped away. One of the most intense moments was the family meeting that was called at the hospital one evening while everyone was visiting. All of her children discussed what her options were. All of the grandchildren were later informed that the doctors were ordered to resuscitate if Lola went into cardiac arrest. Her children were still discussing whether or not to keep that order. They also informed everyone Lola had a toe that was gangrene, and they were consulting with her doctor to see if they needed to cut the toe off. Lola was very weak, and they didn’t know if she would survive the surgery. Lola was asked what she wanted and we were told she wanted to keep her toe.

As the months passed, we tried to stay positive, and visit her as often as we could. Lola had another stroke, and the gangrene toe spread to her foot, then to her ankle. By then she was took weak to survive the doctors amputating the foot. She was taken care of by her family at home, and the living room was converted in to a fully stocked nursing station. She had a catheter and an IV, as well as a heart monitoring system to ensure she was doing okay. Again, the family watched over her every day in shifts, so she was never alone. When she could speak, she told her family that she was ready to die and she no longer wanted to suffer, or make her family suffer. One of her sons was with her the whole time. He lived with her, quit his job and took care of her full-time . He sacrificed the most out of everyone.

I can’t remember when we saw her last, but a week after our last visit she passed away. She was at home being taken care of by her children. One of the daughters was on her way to the house for her shift when she got a phone call to go home and rest instead of coming over. Anther daughters had just left and the son who lived with Lola was the only one present when she passed away. Lola was a strong-willed and compassionate soul. I was grateful to have met her and witness the love and care her family gave her. It hurt to watch her slowly slip away, and it was reassuring to watch her whole family care for her and mourn her death. Most of this information was gathered and shared by family members, stories told at her funeral, and what I was able to experience myself.

The other monumental death in my life was my great-grandfather, from my father’s side, which happened a few years ago and had similar circumstances, but had a completely different outcome. He was in his mid-nineties still working full-time at a shoe repair shop, walking, talking, and attending all the family parties. One day, while at a bar for a friend’s birthday party, I got a phone call from my father, who never calls, saying my great-grandfather was admitted to the hospital because he had a stroke. I dropped everything and went to the hospital with the rest of my family. He looked so frail and sick I almost left crying because I couldn’t bear to see him in this state. He had an oxygen mask on to ensure he was breathing properly, but he kept trying to take it off because the air was too cold for him. I asked the nurses if it was okay for me to remove it for a bit because he was so uncomfortable, and they advised me not to. I took it off any way, for a few moments so we could talk and I put the mask back after we finished speaking, but it was still hard to understand anything because it was difficult for him to speak at all. We were told he was too weak to walk on his own and would need constant care due to his age.

The original family plan was to take my great-grandfather to a nursing home to get the care he needed. No one in my family is a doctor, a nurse, or even a dental hygienist. He was admitted to a local nursing home close to the family so we could visit him. I sadly did not get to visit him while he was there due to school and work obligations at the time, and visiting hours were always during my classes. I made sure to visit him almost everyday when he was in the hospital because I wasn’t in school at the time.

Months go by before I hear anything from my father or other family members about my great-grandfather’s health and condition. The next phone call I get is my father saying my great-grandfather had passed away. Apparently, some of his children felt the nursing home was too expensive and they opted to care for him at home. I was told he wasn’t taken care of very well and he slowly withered away. It was hard for me to hear that he died this way, but not surprising. My father’s family also isn’t very close, and there tends to be a lot of drama related anger toward one another. I don’t know if I believe that was how he passed away, but it makes me feel sad that I never got to see him again outside of the hospital not hooked up to a machine.

He was the nucleus of the family, and once he passed away it was hard to get the family together for anything. Within the last two years the family has started to arrange small informal family reunions to ensure everyone stays in contact. These events still bring out the drama. One of my uncles decided to announce that my 17 year-old cousin was pregnant.

My father’s side of the family and my boyfriends’ family have very different methods of dealing with a death in the family. Not only did the type of healthcare they had affect how they were allowed to die, but the families also played a large part in how it played out. Great health insurance doesn’t guarantee a peaceful death, and a caring family can’t keep someone from suffering. The decisions we make on someone’s behalf when they are on the brink of death can be crucial and difficult to discuss. I just hope that someday my death will be peaceful, or least quick and painless. I have often heard my mother saying, “Just unplug me if doesn’t look good. Don’t let me suffer.” I tend to feel the same way. Even if I have not officially written my Last Will and Testament, I at least hope no one suffers or prolongs what is always inevitable. Too many see it as a burden, and not as part of the experience of life.

Death is part of life. Health insurance and family baggage make it more complicated than it should be.

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Adult Decisions

Dear Friends,

It has taken me many days, weeks, and months to make this decision. It was not a easy one. I am sad to inform you that you will not be able to attend my (future) wedding. I have decided it would be best to keep this event small. I hope that you do not take this personally, or as a reason for us to no longer be friends. It was not easy for me to lump people in to a “Good Friends VS Bad Friends” grouping, which, actually didn’t happen.

I hope to see you some time soon. And, if it makes you feel any better, gifts were not required for the people who were invited.

Sincerely,

Me.

Well, that was theraputic. This type of diatribe had been weighing on me for some time. Recently we have had a number of friends getting married, knocked up, separated, and divorced. My own family is riddled with chaos over such things. My mother is on her third husband, her best choice so far, my father has been happily remarried for over 10 years, most of my relatives are divorced, or having issues of their own.

I, personally, take the vows of marriage very seriously. This does not mean I think “Marriage is between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation.” Not at all. Having seen, and experienced, marriage and divorce come and go I don’t think the decision of marriage is easy. This week alone I have been informed of a secret marriage, a separation, and my boyfriend and I are attending a wedding in a couple of weeks. Marriage, not including the wedding, is a life changing decision.

Ever since I was young I never saw myself getting married and having kids. It never really crossed my mind like it did my friends and relatives. I figured if it happens it happens. If my life is in the right place, and I meet someone I can see myself growing old with, then it would be obvious it would happen.

And…I was right.

Sure, I had delusions of marryinig someone who wasn’t right for me, but I realized later it was just a flight of fancy and was never going to happen. Now, I worry about it too much. I’ve always felt weddings were a waste of time and money. Why start off the greatest start to a new life in debt? Is it really a great tradition? Do I need a church to recognize my own feelings and wishes? Plus, the thought of dozes of people watching this whole farce makes me want to run away from it all. Why pay for others to eat at your wedding? Why not just sign the paperwork and leave on the honeymoon right away!? Eloping seems to fit better with my idea of romantic and fun. I don’t even need Las Vegas. I’ve also had thoughts of a small wedding, thus the small hypothetical letter.

After being informed of someone’s secret, last minute wedding, and I started to wonder about who I would invite to my own ceremony. Who are my close friends? What family would make the cut?

I have a healthy grouping of friends, but most of them would not be invited. Hell, even some family wouldn’t be invited. Does that mean I, in turn, could not be invited to their wedding? Is this how it works? Who knows. All I do know is if and when it happens it shall be for my future husband and I only.

I’m still making a list, in my head, of who will be invited. That is….if I can gather the courage to stand in front of crowd at all!

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Filed under Life, rant