Log: Jun 23 – 29 (Tue – Mon) Grandma’s Death and a Bar Mitzvah

Jun 23 (Tue): @ Grandma’s
Jun 24 (Wed): @ Grandma’s
Jun 25 (Thu): @ Grandma’s
Jun 26 (Fri): Fly back from Grandma’s by 10a; Fly to Peter’s cousin’s place at night
Jun 27 (Sat): Peter’s cousin’s bar mitzvah
Jun 28 (Sun): Peter’s cousin’s place; Fly back home in afternoon
Jun 29 (Mon): Work 9:30a – 5:30p; Go to Uncle’s after work

Tue, Wed, Thu: With my grandma, my mom, two aunts, two uncles, and a cousin (briefly). I’m not posting TW’s because I think the title is clear: I was there again because my grandma was dying. I was there for my own sense of closure and saying goodbye as well as wanting to commiserate with my family and be of any support for them as possible. I suppose I won’t go into too much detail here but hospice was involved so we were able to help take away Grandma’s pain and take care of her there at my aunt’s house. My grandma was much more at peace there, and always surrounded by love. Some family issues came up; two siblings had a pretty severe blow-up and might not speak with each other for many years to come. Let me rewind. Also, my aunts and uncles helped me to pick out an outfit for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah, because I left all of my formal clothes back Home (with my parents and dog). I talked to my grandma or just sat near her, and each day I played some gentle piano music for her. She was in a state similar to a coma but not quite; she did respond in certain ways when we would talk to her and stroke her arm or forehead. Her eyes would blink although closed, and her mouth would close, and her breathing would steady a little. She could definitely hear us although there is no way of knowing what she could comprehend; the hospice nurses said her brain was also starting to shut down.

Fri: Left there in the morning, flew back here. Leaving there was hard. I did not want to leave. I would not have left but for the $600 plane ticket that Peter had already purchased for me. So I did decide to leave. I said my goodbyes to Grandma on Thursday night and reinforced them again on Friday morning before leaving. She’s been basically in a coma or maybe a morphine-induced fog, but there were things I wanted to say. So then I flew. Got back here, napped and packed for my flight with Peter and his dad for Peter’s cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. We left that night.

Sat: Arrived on Saturday morning. Met Peter’s paternal family. Everyone was nice. I rested a bit (hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane that night; my restless leg syndrome was being severe AND every time I started to nod off, I would jerk awake with horrible, horrible OCD intrusive thoughts). Then it was time to get dressed and ready for the Bar Mitzvah. It was really nice. I haven’t been to any before this, but I am sure it was a really nice one. The cousin’s speech was really interesting; I’d been afraid I wouldn’t be able to relate to it because I don’t know much about the religion, but he did a wonderful job and I felt very connected to what they were talking about. Of course, I didn’t know to expect a prayer/words for those mourning loved ones’ deaths near the end, so I cried and had no tissue for my snotty nose. Afterward, the reception/ceremony was pretty amazing. There was an open bar and catered food that was really good. There was mandatory dancing and I liked that. Then Peter and I danced to many of the rest of the songs anyway, although neither of us knows any dance moves. So we basically were just shuffling our feet in random ways, but it was fun. I hope a relative sends a picture so I can show my parents (pictures were allowed during this part). They’d LOVE to have seen it.

Sun: So, we left Sunday, early afternoon, after they had a bunch of family photos taken and more chatting and celebration. I got to talk with more, very nice relatives. Peter was asked to play piano for ambiance again. Then we had to leave. Flew back, said goodbye to Peter’s dad, dropped off our stuff at Peter’s place and went out to eat dinner. It was really good food. Then went to a store for a couple of supplies and that’s when my mom called me that my grandma had passed away.

She had been without food or water for a week already, and hardly eaten or drank for a long time before then. It hurts but at the same time, there was an element of relief for me. She died very peacefully, not like her husband, who struggled at the very end. My grandma’s breathing was becoming more infrequent and then at last she did not inhale again. She had waited until the family was back from a walk and they were all with her, and I’m glad for that. But it’s hard not to be there with them now. But I cannot go back right now; a coworker was getting anxious about my absence because of a large, important report that he needs me to print + bind shortly. I was hoping he’d give it to me today and then I could consider leaving again later in the week, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen today.

I had worried so long, SO, SO long, about how my mom would not be able to live on without her mom. I thought she’d be lost forever once her mom died. But it turns out, and so I think I needed to have been there and seen with my own eyes, my mom will pull through this. I saw it. She even helped with some of the night shift medicating. Reality turns into the New Norm and she is adjusting to it. I imagine it helped her too, to see Grandma during this stage of her decline. So there was this chance to see and to adjust and to live differently. I underestimated her. I guess we will all adjust to the New Norms as they happen, and I needn’t have worried so much for so many years. We deal. We handle it. We let our mental expectations change as the reality changes. We adapt.

Mon: I woke up in a pretty severe, serious mood. No joking, just taking everything very serious and saying very serious things. In contrast, I think Peter woke up in a light mood, and our conversation this morning was confusing and I’ve already written him for further clarification. I’m at work. I briefly saw my uncle. I’m going to go to his place after work today, and I’m going to watch a stupid movie with him (we’ve already planned it). He was one of the siblings involved in the blow-out and there are certain topics we’ll avoid discussing, but I’ll be glad to be with him. I talked with my mom for a while last night when she called to tell me the news about Grandma, and then I called my dad and talked with him for a while, although he and I mostly talked about my dog. I needed to talk with family. I texted with my brother some, too. ❤

UPDATE: I’ve been in a shitty, shitty mood all day today. I’ve just gone on a 2+ mile walk in the sun and I’m STILL in a shitty, shitty mood. That’s how bad it is.

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Log: Jun 20 – 22 (Sat – Mon) Lots of rest

Jun 20 (Sat): Tree planting 9:00a – 2p; Nap + watch a DVD
Jun 21 (Sun): Spent time with Peter’s father, helped picked plums for homemade jam, sold another large item for my aunt + uncle
Jun 22 (Mon): Work 9:45a – 5:30p; Go to pharmacy; Go to aunt + uncle’s house / Fly to Grandma?

Saturday: Tree planting. I’m glad we went. Peter and I were on a team of four and together we planted six trees and removed the stakes from a bunch of other trees that no longer required them. (I didn’t help with that part, but Peter did.) The first location was interesting and the owners of the lot in front of this sidewalk, who had requested the trees be put in there, were very generous and offered us beverages and gave a tour of the house, which had previously been other establishments and was pretty interesting inside.

Afterward, I only meant to rest on the bed for 15 minutes but once someone joins me for a nap, all bets are off. We didn’t wake up until 11p, at which time I ate some food, I think we may have watched a DVD at this point, and then went back to sleep. Major woops as far as having a stable schedule, but apparently weneeded the sleep, because we were both out.

Plum jam creation!

Plum jam creation!

Sunday: We had a late breakfast with Peter’s dad, hung out chatting at his house, although I ended up falling asleep for a while (well, his dad had tried to make me coffee but he used soy milk that was in the fridge and turned out to have been expired for over a year). I tried it and amazingly, I did not get at all sick from my taste-test (but the trial did make me get up and look at and sniff the carton, which is when I saw the Best-By date, which was March of 2014). Heh.

Then Peter and I helped to pick plums from this amaaaazing tree his dad has. We barely scratched the surface of ripe plums on that tree, but we filled the entire bucket so called it good. Meanwhile, his dad was making jam out of the plums, and gave us a huge jar of it. It’s so amazing. Oh!!! And I saw my FIRST CHINESE CRESTED dog of this area!!! I’ve been looking for over a year, and finally, finally found one!!!!! So I got to talk with her owner for a bit and show a picture of my dog.

Then we all had a late lunch together, and then Peter and I had to rush to meet a potential buyer for a large sale item at my aunt + uncle’s house. The buyer was very friendly and we all chatted for a long while, as his little dog ran around the yard, sniffing everything. Afterward, Peter + I talked with my aunt + uncle for a while before going back home to his city, just in time for bed. And I was soo happy.

Monday: I was only about 3 minutes late leaving the apartment this morning, from the time we’d agreed upon leaving. Woot woot. That’s pretty damn good, for me. I still wish I didn’t have to wait to the last second to get that drive to actually move and gather things, but that’s how it’s always been. It takes an incredible amount of stress and pressure for me to actually organize my thoughts and remember the things I want to grab. I should try writing out more schedules for myself and try out new formats and such. Something will one day be effective for me, I am sure of it.

Anyway, meanwhile, I got an update about my maternal grandma. She is on the morphine regularly now, per doctor’s orders. They think she will die sooner than later at this point. All I can say is that when her husband went onto the morphine regularly like this, it marked one week before he died.

I am torn in several ways. I want to be there with my family. But I did already get to say goodbye to my grandma. I already have tickets for this weekend to go with Peter to his cousin’s bar mitzvah. He bought the tickets himself and they were $600 so I don’t want to poop out on him and his dad and I was pretty excited to get to fly out there and meet his family and stuff. On one hand, I could go to my grandma right now, today, and be there all week. Then leave for the weekend and come back afterward. There is no higher priority to me than my Family. Even if it cost me $1000 a trip, it would still be worth it to me, to be with Family during a time that, in my opinion and for me personally, offers a lot of closure and healing for something that is very painful. When her husband, my grandfather, died, the most wonderful part of the experience was afterward when a lot of family gathered informally in a room there at the hospice hospital, and spontaneously shared stories we remembered about him that meant a lot to us. And it brought me closer to those family members, too.

So I guess it is not that complex for me after all. I want to be there. Maybe I feel guilty to think I would only want to be there if she dies. So let’s think, if I am there for the rest of this week and she is still hanging on, I will have still kept her company in a painful time. I will have still offered bonding and support with the other members of my Family who are there.

I’m on the phone now. I’m definitely going. Looking for tickets right now. 3-Day Mood Ranking: 5

UPDATE I am leaving in a couple of hours. I’m sooooooooooo anxious now, because I’m not even going to get to say goodbye to Peter face-to-face and I’m not coming back until Friday morning, when I’ll see him after he gets off of work that day, and then we leave together for the weekend. I’m going to miss him so much. But I’ll be so glad to be with family once I get to my grandma’s. I’m out for now.

Continued Log: Jun 11 (Thu) Smoothing through rough evening

UPDATE!!!!!!!!!! For the rest of Thursday:

Beloved pets

Beloved pets

To finish writing about the end of [Thursday], it was hard to get out of my mood. Peter and I were okay, but my mood was sketchy. At one point, I don’t recall how, horses got brought up. Horses, marriage, poverty, horses on the property, horse smell in the house. Whatever it was. He said he definitely didn’t want that if I do, then *shrugs* and a “…” trailing off.

Dear reader, first of all, we’re not actually talking marriage. Sometimes I do go overboard in forecasting, however, to prevent future problems. I want to know NOW if this has no long-term potential. So sometimes we do scope out, “if we were married…” Which isn’t reality, since he doesn’t want to get married first of all, and second of all I don’t want to get married again for another decade. So the whole thing is an exercise in theorizing and projecting and silliness.

BUT since it was yesterday (emotions still off), and he spelled out in black and white that if my personal dream is to have horses on my property, then he is not the one for me, all I could find myself saying out loud was, “Why do they spread these lies to children?” I could’t explain the rest out loud. I timidly said I needed to be right back. I slipped away down the stairs to the bathroom and cried and cried.

Dear reader, these are dreams I had to give up with my ex already. These are dreams I haven’t been considering as of late. I AM mad at what people teach children. I am. They teach children to dream and come up with all of these ideas and plans for a future life and then you get devastated time and again in the real world of adulthood. Most of you CAN’T ACTUALLY BECOME AN ASTRONAUGHT. You can’t. It was a lie. So many dreams can’t actually happen in reality. You have to deal with the fallout of crushed dreams.

Equine Love

Equine Love

Horses is both possible and impossible. It’s possible and doable for me personally. But financially, I want the money more. I’ve been considering lately to sell my horse back to previous owner, as much as I do not want to do that. But reality? Am I going to bring her down to me? Am I going to go back onto allergy shots? Am I going to make the time throughout every single week to go out to the distant barn and visit her and exercise her? No. I’m not. It’s very hard to attend a distant barn; I know this from experience. I would have to lease her to others anyway, to exercise her for me.

But it was still crushing to hear again to my face. Peter or a horse. Does that sound familiar? It wouldn’t to you guys; I haven’t talked about my ex life too much. It brought me to my knees and crying and thinking about my grandma and thinking about her husband and their lives together. Life in general. Dreams. Death. If I die tomorrow, would I care if I had a horse on my property or not? Lies told to generations of children. Priorities.

It all comes down to: What are my priorities. What are they. What has changed. What could change. What will remain stable? What priorities can I count on?

Anyway, I came back up and he could tell I’d been crying and he was so very sorry for having said something hurtful. I dismissed it by saying I was just being irrationally emotional. He said maybe I wasn’t and he’d actually said something hurtful.

I mentioned the horse poverty thing and reminded him that I have a horse. He knows that and knows I’ve been considering bringing her nearby me and was fine with that. I said what when married. He said we’d have to look at finances to see if we could afford it. (Again, remember that we’re not getting married! These are all meaningless what-if scenarios.) At long last, a non-black-and-white statement. Thank god.

Anyway, we had dinner. I fed the doggers (we’re dog-sitting right now). Listened to some music. We talked a little more. We re-affirmed that neither of us wants to break up with the other. I actually went to sleep feeling CONTENT AGAIN. Thank God[]. I SLEPT like a ROCK.

Just watch those lies you spread to children, parents. Okay? Don’t teach them to dream big, elaborate dreams. They’ll only get hurt time and time again. My own dreams from childhood are literally-speaking not realistic. Owning horses is realistic. Owning them in a cave on the side of a mountain where I’d care for them all winter long, however, is not physically possible. The amount of feces in the cave would become a health hazard, and the snow storms would cause them suffocation. I’m just saying.

Log: Jun 7 + 8 (Sun + Mon) Grandma; life

Jun 7 (Sun): Airplane 10a; rest

Jun 8 (Mon): Work 8:30a – 5:30p; Go to uncle’s after work

Cactus

Cactus

Sunday: Said goodbye to my grandma. She was the most lucid she’s been the whole time I’ve seen her. She even ate breakfast (puree, fed to her by spoon). I couldn’t bring myself to say some of the things I was going to say to her, because she was very alert as I said goodbye. I kind of wish I hadn’t started crying while hugging her. I’m not sure if she knew I thought it might be our final goodbye or if she thought I was just sad about having to leave in general. I told her I love her and she told me she loves me.

I feel somewhat responsible for the following downtrodden mood of hers. My mom thinks maybe she got a stomach ache again and that’s what caused it, but I can’t help but feel that her sensing my sadness was also responsible. But apparently right after I left, she was saying things like she didn’t want to be a burden on anyone anymore, and stuff. But I thought, at least she is still saying sentences, maybe that’s a good sign.

But then she didn’t eat or drink really the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, I traveled back to these dual cities I am now calling home-ish. (My uncle’s city and Peter’s city.) I want to turn right back around and return to my grandma’s side. I already told them I would if they thought I’d be of any use. I would fly out this instant. She will be paying nurses and there is also hospice and so my grandma will have someone with her around the clock. But surely she would be even happier to have a familiar face by her side for a lot of that time. Oh, I am accidentally fast-forwarding this log — there is another development I haven’t written about yet, so look for her new home information farther down this log.

I was in airports most of the day due to flight mess-ups (well, like not being able to locate the co-pilot for several hours). Meanwhile, Peter had actually shown up at my arriving airport and was waiting for me! Good thing he brought a looong book because it was hours and hours before I arrived. We went to his apartment and I unpacked and told him about my grandma. It was nice to see him and he said it was nice that I’m back again and frankly I can’t think of anything that smells better than him. But I’m very confused and my heart is not here right now. I might go back to my grandma for a while; I haven’t decided.

Monday: Peter and I got up early and I made it to work by 8:30a. Crazy. I packed a PBJ to-go for breakfast. But ended up eating some granola for breakfast and the PBJ for lunch and I’m pretty hungry and weak-feeling now, but I’m not doing anything about it. I’ll leave work shortly and head to my aunt and uncle’s house. Maybe there will be food; if not, I have a frozen TV dinner in the downstairs freezer.

Cactus

Cactus

I caught up on things here at work. Except we did receive a bill for a service I personally cancelled six months ago, and they refused to acknowledged it because I did it over the phone and have no paper trail. Bloody hell. I’ll deal with it more tomorrow. I have a call in to a company that might be able to back my story.

Anyway, so work has gone well today. I was busy and productive for quite a while. I even called my health insurance again and am told that my termination letter is on its snail-mail way to me, and my case is currently in “appeals” and I should know more within a week or 2. Here’s hoping.

I also made a passport application appointment, finally, and also sent for another record of my birth certificate, because I am so anxious at the thought of having to mail in my only original birth certificate for this passport application.

SO the development with my grandma is that she was refusing food and liquid again today. Hospice was consulted again and it was decided to move my grandma to my aunt + uncle’s house there. I am very glad of it. She was SO unhappy at the new place.

See, she had lived in a certain assisted living facility for YEARS. She had friends and all of her familiar things around her there. But after 7 hospitalizations, including the previous SEVERE UTI and a possible mini-stroke (they’re still not sure), she was deemed unable to remain there, because she needed a more intense level of care than could be provided at that place.

So after her UTI was cleared up (the hospital said the UTI was so severe, they were surprised it hadn’t killed her), she was moved to a new home, one with a special unit for dementia patients and would be able to care for her. Before she could move into her new room, they had her for a short while in a different unit of the building, a rehab center, where she was supposed to regain enough strength to help her transfer safely to her chair and toilet, and feed herself, etc.

Moth

Moth

However, she’s been unhappy at this place. She begs to go home and see her friends but she can’t. Her rehab room looks and smells like a hospital room. The staff is very busy and not really that personable with her. Even in the few days I was there, she got weaker and weaker and more and more remained in a brain fog and asleep, and lost the ability to chew and feed herself, and forgets things like swallowing.

Anyway, so today they decided to move her to my aunt and uncle’s place there. They work and are also unqualified for her level of care, but they have hired nurses and hospice and altogether, my grandma will have round the clock care. Hospice currently guesses she has another week to a month before she dies.

Maybe she will be so happy to be back in a familiar, homey, loving environment that she will remember the will to live and will start to eat and drink again. And if not, she will spend her final days in the most familiar, homey, loving environment possible, and I don’t think anyone could ask for more than that.

I’m going to sign up for classes that begin in August here, but I am very seriously considering spending some time between now and then with her there.

Log: Jun 4 – 6 (Thu – Sat) Visit Grandma

Jun 4 – 6 (Thu – Sat): VISIT GRANDMA

Thursday: Slept for an extremely long time. It was late afternoon by the time I visited my grandma.

Friday: Spent the day with my grandma.

Saturday: Spent the day with my grandma.

Sunset clouds

Sunset clouds

Frankly, the days have already blurred together. Where I ate, when I sat, when I fell asleep as my grandma slept, which caregivers I spoke with, when I spoke with my mom, my aunt, my uncle. When my grandma was more alert, when she was in a complete fog. When she could be transferred from bed to wheelchair to toilet back to wheelchair. When she had to use a bedpan. When she had to have a hoyer lift. When she would eat, when she had to have her food pureed, when she refused to eat or drink. When hospice was called, the first hospice nurse who presumed that “I want to go home and see my friends” was code for “I want to die.” But the rest of us are pretty sure she actually meant that she wanted to go back to her usual assisted living home and see her literal friends she has eaten each meal with for the past YEARS. (That said, we do agree that she probably feels it’s time to die when she says things like she refuses the physical therapy because she is too tired, she doesn’t want to try anymore, she is too old, too tired, etc.)

It was not as easy to sit with her this time as last time in some ways, because you feel compelled to speak when in the room with someone you are there to see. But she wasn’t tracking and wasn’t responding and didn’t appear to be mentally present or listening. Many times, she was asleep before you finished a sentence. She fell asleep on the toilet, she fell asleep at the dining table. She fell asleep in the middle of a sentence or video chat etc. She was very tired. A week ago, she could lift a spoon to her mouth. Now she can’t. 3 weeks ago, she was holding regular conversations. Now we are lucky if she responds with a sentence all day.

Sunset

Sunset

But she is still capable of smiling and it’s still beautiful to see. My mom and I pulled up the recent horse race on my mom’s iPad and brought it to her in her bed as it took place live, and sort of forced her to keep her eyes on the screen and see the horse win the race, with our voices full of enthusiasm and cheering on the horses. My mom cried. Grandma seemed to know she had just watched a horse race, although forgot it within 7 minutes. But it’s a memory for me.

Talked with my mom and my aunt and uncle who live out there. We ate dinner and talked every night. My mom sent out video chats to different family members every time my grandma had a lucid moment, so that everyone in the family would be able to talk with my grandma at least one last time before she dies. I know it’s not the same, to not be able to say something private to her, but I think it is special anyway.

Poem: Home II

Wherever the wind blows
That’s where my tent lives
Drive stakes into hardened Earth
Set down my pot and pan
And build a small flame
For boiling water

The wind blows dust and clay
Into my eyes
Gritty teeth grind
And blink
But I don’t mind

In an aquarium of sky
Clouds as heavy as semi’s scuttle
My sweat turns to mud
As I lay and watch

Bushes nearby rustle green leaves
But no large animal ever
Emerges to keep me company

–innerdragon

Poem: Death V

How am I supposed to look you in the eyes tomorrow
And say Goodbye.
Tell me how.
How can I give you a hug
and hold you tight
and breathe your scent
one final time?

Tell me how.
How can I tell you I love you?
How can I show you I care?
How will you know 1000 times all the ways I wish I could be there?

But you won’t know.
Your mind is elsewhere.
Only I will know.
It’s up to me to say goodbye now,
and you unaware
with eyes half-massed
and face turned away
and body still
Yet breathing
And sometimes you accept food and liquid.

How.

How can I leave you like this?
How can I leave you knowing there’s little chance of ever seeing you again?

–innerdragon