walkingshadow: harry frickin' potter (and the earth did not devour him)
walkingshadow ([personal profile] walkingshadow) wrote2010-10-07 08:47 pm

find a darkened corner

a. I had the most amazing time with [livejournal.com profile] gjstruthseeker and her husband in St. Pete and in Orlando. We ate food! We talked fandom! We played road games! We roamed for miles across the Disney and Universal theme parks until we were hobbled! We wore costumes to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! We attempted to drink our way around the world at Epcot, and failed, but somehow still won! We experienced the Harry Potter Experience: A++! Would experience again! And we bemoaned the fact that they are still living halfway across the world. I seriously miss those guys when they're not here.

b. While I was gone, A.'s mother went into hospice. She had fought an up-and-down battle with brain tumors for years, shockingly aggressive brain tumors, that spread in the last couple of years to her back. The doctors had talked about hospice back in the spring, when things looked very bad: she was wheelchair-bound, she wasn't coherent, she was in horrible pain all the time; her last bout of chemo had been so awful she swore she wasn't ever going through it again. But they put her on a new drug, and she rallied, and she had a beautiful, healthy summer. The last downturn came suddenly, and progressed very quickly. Before I went out of town, her unbearable pain had returned, and they hadn't been able to manage it. They'd called an ambulance to take her to the ER after she'd finally fallen asleep and then been unresponsive for hours; they'd done MRIs the week before which they expected to show that the tumors were growing again.

In the week I was gone, she developed a high fever that they couldn't bring down; an MRI showed a hemorrhage in her brain. She was completely unresponsive. Her organs started to fail. They made the decision to begin providing comfort care only, and moved her to hospice. That was on Saturday, the 18th of September. I got home Sunday night. I went to see her on Monday, which turned out to be her last good day, the last day she was responsive to anyone, able to listen to people on the phone if someone held it up to her ear, laughing at her best friend's stories when she called; for a couple of days after that she seemed to be responsive to pain, because we could see her grimace when they turned her; then she stopped responding to anything. They steadily increased her morphine to ease her breathing. They explained what was happening to her body—the edema, the lividity, the fluid in her lungs—as her organs continued to shut down. She turned gray. Her sisters had flown in, and my dad had come too, to help my half-sister with her kids. We stayed with her all day and went home at night.

It's surreal to sit in a room all day and watch someone die. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about it, whether it's a good and natural thing to be that close to death, or whether it's really fucking weird (and god knows my family doesn't talk about it), or just weird because I'm an interloper here anyway. So: surreal. Squeamish; awkward; morbid; terrifically sad, of course. And I couldn't help wondering why (though I knew why) they couldn't just give her one extra-big dose of morphine the next time she was due. Not while she was still fighting, not even while she could still lie motionless and drugged, not talking, but laughing on the phone if you held it up to her ear; but after that, when they hadn't given her food or fluids for days, and kept saying it was only a matter of hours—a few or forty-eight, but hours—when she'd long stopped responding to anyone or anything and her body was shutting down functions one by one.

She died early on Friday morning, the 24th of September. And it was Shabbat, so the funeral wasn't until Sunday (and because of Sukkot, they didn't sit shivah; THAT was weird), which gave a lot of people time to fly in. I drove out to the airport three separate times on Saturday. It's hard to say how I feel, because I'm so divorced from my feelings most of the time: sad, obviously, but mostly because other people are so sad. Because her children lost their mother, and her siblings lost their sister, and my niece and nephews lost their grandmother. Because she was undoubtedly the best and kindest person in her family. I cried at the funeral, and so did my mom and my brother, because hey, we're criers. We cry at movies and TV shows and books; we would cry at the funeral of a stranger—they say such nice things, and emotions are so close to the surface. And it's magnified a thousand times when it's someone you knew, when you know all those nice things are true.

This was someone to whom I had no technical relationship: she was the mother of my half-siblings; we have the same dad. I can't believe English doesn't have tidier, more precise nomenclature for these relationships, especially considering how many people could probably use them, and considering that people always want to know exactly how you're related. In Yiddish we would just say we were mishpocha—family, extended family. I'd only met her a couple of times before I moved up here four years ago, and then I saw her all the time, and I just became family to her, the way my brother did when he moved up here a couple of years before me; that's something A. talked about at the funeral, that anyone who came into her life, she kept in her life. And now she's gone.

c. The kid I was babysitting for has gone into daycare, which will be wonderful for him, and great for his parents, and is disastrous for me. I'm out of a job and at loose ends again, which apparently means a reversion to hiding in bed all day and despairing about ever being employed or doing anything with my life, ever, etc., etc. Kansas thinks now is the time to apply for grad school again, though just contemplating the process and my prospects fills me with dread, so wish me luck with that.

d. I thought summer would never, ever be over, and then BAM it was fall. I'm so fucking grateful. The thing is, my room is horribly insulated, and I've been sleeping horribly for the last few nights, because I've been waking up cold. This seemed like a ridiculous reason to sleep badly. So I dragged out all my blankets and put on my flannel sheets and broke out my flannel pajamas, and now I'm just sleeping badly due to general anxiety. So all is right with the world.

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