Are You There, God? It’s Me, (evil).

I got a Facebook message from my sister yesterday, checking in and making sure I was OK. It occurred to me that perhaps I haven’t been mourning enough. Mostly, I have thrown myself back into work because that’s what I know how to do. In my experience, if you give yourself the option of losing your shit, you probably will.

I didn’t understand most of 2008. I generally don’t believe in an interventionist God. OK, I just don’t believe that there’s some guy with a big white beard sitting up in the clouds watching me. If said guy did exist, he’d probably have much more productive things to be doing. Thus, it would take a level of narcissism that not even I can muster to think that The Supreme Being was up in Heaven saying, “let’s throw her Hell and see if she survives it. Just for LOLs.” If he’s up there, even if he’s not, I think I understand now. 2008 was a dress rehearsal.

I think that’s part of why I’m not losing my shit more. I talked someone through death, voluntary death, looked it in the face and realized that my love was not enough to change his mind. I sent all my horses and all my men, and Humpty Dumpty sent them back, egg on faces. With a Bible. Irony.

We’d all had plenty of time to accept the whole cancer thing. Years. Knowing something is going to happen and having it actually happen aren’t the same thing, but I do appreciate the advance warning. In his typical way, dad planned everything out so mom would have less crap to deal with. I don’t feel that badly for myself because I mostly feel badly for mom. I have been getting used to the idea of my parents dying since I grasped the concept of death. Ah, portrait of the goth at age five.

I will be OK without him there to walk me down the aisle (if I ever lose my mind and get married), because he did his job. He and mom raised us to be independent, strong, and to be able to do for ourselves. The point of being a good parent is to make yourself obsolete. That’s not to say that he’ll be unneeded or replaced. That’s just to say that my dad raised me to keep my shit together, even if he wouldn’t have used the word “shit.”

Still, one of his paintings looks at me as I leave the house. He hung my closet shelves. I can still feel him standing behind me while I play. It’s like there’s one more hand on my back, pushing me forward to be the legacy for one more person. Now I have to be fabulous for Diah and play Jim Croce songs for dad. (Note to self: steal the other half of his chord charts.)

Yeah, 2008 sucked. There were several times when I kind of wanted to jump off an overpass. Dad knew 2008 had sucked, as I’d lost so many things that were so important. He sat on the couch at Christmas, doped up but still in pain, and he just wanted to make sure I was OK. I’m OK. Strangely, I cashed in my old life for a new, better, one. If they didn’t kill me last year, they never will. I’m not being bizarrely cavalier. It just takes a lot more to throw me from the horse.

One day, I will play you a song that always made me cry when dad played it. Because that song is my job now, too.

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…and the end.

Didn’t mean to run in yesterday and leave you with a cliff-hanger, but I guess it’s only fitting. I spent 23 hours waitingwaitingwaiting, and mom spent years waiting to see what would happen.

After about 23 hours off the respirator, dad passed away yesterday afternoon. No weird jerking or weird breathing, as the doctors warned. He just exhaled and didn’t take another breath. It sounds really crappy, but we’re all glad that this happened over a span of days instead of months, and that nobody had to stand by and watch dad lose his faculties as the brain tumors continued to not respond to treatment. Mom wasn’t looking forward to the next six months and, they had both been through enough years ago.

We went to the funeral home to arrange the cremation and look at urns. Everybody in the immediate family wants to be cremated, and we’re not really a “have a viewing” kind of crew. I understand why some people need it, but I just find it creepy and expensive. Mom is thinking that she’ll take her time shopping for urns; the one she liked the most was 700 bucks, but not really worth it. Yeah, it’s high-gloss, but it’s still 700 bucks for a 12X12 cube of wood. Dude. Please.

We’re not having services at a funeral home, because those places are also on the “kind of creepy” list. Besides, I don’t think the funeral home would let us play James Brown, serve booze and display his paintings. Thus, here are the details:

Saturday, February 21st
2-4pm (come and go as you please, it’s more of an open house)
Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavillion (upstairs in the bar)
2400 Newtown Pk
Lexington, KY 40511

Do I expect you to come? No, but I thought you might like the info just in case. If you want to do something but can’t come, please don’t send flowers. Instead, mom asks that you make a donation in the name of Bruce Mauk to The Markey Cancer Center Foundation. They took good care of him, and let us camp out on their couches.

More Sucking…

I have finally broken down and brought my computer to the hospital, as I feel like I’ve been living on Planet Respirator for 4 days. Not that Planet Respirator isn’t where I’m supposed to be at present. It’s just that you can only talk to the same three people for so long until you start to hear the same story 5 times. Besides, my throat hurts and everybody’s pretty much moved out of conversation mode and into “watch Regis & Kelly” mode, and I can’t sign up for that and maintain and reasonably pleasant disposition. I just need some quiet time in a side room for a little while.

To catch you up, we took dad off the ventilator at about 1:30 yesterday. Doctors have assured us that he’s not feeling anything, and whenever he makes a face or his heart rate shoots up, we call the nurse and they shoot in some more morphine. He’s breathing on his own, but he’s been slowly developing more and more of a rattley sound. It’s a bit like a fish tank or coffee maker and is kind of soothing until you remember that the sound is him trying to breathe.

Everybody’s holding up pretty well, following the idea that this is not an opportune time to lose one’s proverbial shit. Get through this, do what you have to do, THEN lose your shit. This would explain why I’m typing right now. It’s what I do. Like it or not, I’m comfortable here and being here helps me get my sleep-deprived brain in order. Oh, and coffee. Coffee also helps.

Caturday Catch Up Sucktacular

**If I’m related to you, and you’re not my mom, aunt, or sister. Don’t read this. Call my mom instead.

I started this post once already, some 14 hours ago. I was sitting at my desk, listening to my phone beep and vibrate as last night Twitter conversations came through after a night of having the phone turned off. I hit an all-time high-low this morning, with 45 tweets flooding in while I drank coffee and started a Caturday Catch Up. I flipped through tweets about Japan, boys, and booze and came to one from that morning. From my sister:

Dad is in the hospital. You need to get to Lexington.

And so I type to you, 14 hours later, from my parents’ house in Lexington. Let’s back up.

Dad went in on Friday to have a feeding tube put in (see last Saturday’s post about him needing a feeding tube). The tube went in and he was waking up from surgery when he crashed. (I just looked down at something on the desk in a very shaky hand. No wonder mom had written the address on the birth certificate they mailed me for my passport.) Anyway, the Rapid Response team was called in, they got him stabilized, but still didn’t know what was wrong. Until late this morning.

I shut down the computer, took a shower, packed a week’s worth of clothes (including, per the sister, funeral attire) and ran out to the hardware store to get a key made so Jrob can feed Murphy for however long I’m gone. Hoping I didn’t forget anyone, hoping that freelance work, world domination, and tiny cartoon pants can all wait, I started driving. I picked up sis at the Lexington airport and we went to the house to find out what was really going on.

It’s a lot of crazy medical words, but basically being on hard-core pain meds for the last three years had caused part of his digestive system to die. Lactic acid was building up in his lungs, making him feel (if he were awake) as though he was drowning. The doctors have said that there are things that they could do, but none of them are pleasant, painless, or permanent. Stage IV cancer is still stage IV cancer. Right now, he’s in a comfy unconscious state, and they’re sucking the liquid out of his lungs at regular intervals. While the next step is mom’s decision, all us gals talked and we all agree. This is better than waiting for brain tumors to make him blind or incoherent. This is better than having to move a hospital bed into the house. Tomorrow will be unpleasant. Tonight, I’m hearing my sister sing in the bathroom because she and mom polished off two bottles of wine. (I have Nytol in the party mix I keep in my purse.) Oh, and she just interrupted my typing with this:

“Amy, I need you to help me!”
“With what?”
“I’m just saying that tomorrow morning Anderson Cooper’s going to be like ‘Ashley Judd!’ And I just need you to assimilate.”
“What?”
“Brush your teeth with me.”
“Dude, I already brushed my teeth. Go to bed, or I’m going to video tape you some more.”
“All I’m saying is that Anderson Cooper is on youTube is this bitch.”

She’s in the bathroom singing along with her iPod, wearing a wife beater and a gigantic turquoise necklace, trying to get a toothbrush out of a cellophane wrapper and yelling at it. “For fuck’s sake! Just brush me! Do you know what I’m saying?”

That’s all for now.