Posts Tagged ‘life’

All this Death…

Monday, September 28th, 2020

This post is going to be a mess so please forgive me. It’s also going to be highly personal, so apologies for that as well. As with my previous complete post, feel free to skip if you don’t have the spoons to spare. Your health is just as important as anyone else’s.

All right? All right.

First, thank you for everyone’s kind words when I posted about the passing of my mother.
I didn’t respond to many messages, but each and every one helped me so, so much. Some of you asked if there was anything you could do to help. I wasn’t in any kind of headspace to answer that question in the moment. But I have an answer now:

Wear a mask. Vote.

This is not a political statement. Like I said earlier, this is personal.

My mom did not die of Covid. So you would be forgiven for thinking that Covid-19 has nothing to do with me and the fact that I just asked you to put on a mask came out of nowhere. But even though my mom didn’t die OF Covid, it’s very, very possible that she died BECAUSE of Covid. Even her doctors said so.

In an earlier post I said that Mom is the heart of this house. She was then and she is now. She was loving, and brave, and strong. The strongest person I ever knew and ever will know. But she drew her strength from her family, and we weren’t allowed to see her for two months.

The hospital was on lockdown because of Covid-19. It happened so fast that they didn’t have the infrastructure for video conferencing. The nurses, doctors, and other staff were stretched thin because half were permanently assigned to the Covid wing in order to help protect the non-Covid ICU patients. Once, I pushed hard enough to convince a nurse to hold a phone to my mom’s ear so she could hear our voices. She was still on a ventilator, but every time we checked in we were told her eyes would open but she was otherwise unresponsive. So I pushed.

As soon as she heard our voices, her eyes opened wide and she tried to sit up. I didn’t have to push after that.

They gave her a tracheostomy. We had to approve it over the phone. I still wonder… well, I still wonder a lot of things.

Then, after the fifth or sixth week, we met Jen. Jen was a nurse with an iPhone. She offered to let us FaceTime with my mom. We’re an Android family, so we didn’t have FaceTime. She didn’t know how to Duo.

But we both had WhatsApp, and she was willing to use her PERSONAL PHONE to let us see my mother.

Nurses really are heroes.

Mom started to improve. Slowly. Slightly. When she got her trach valve and we heard her loud, strong voice say “Hi!” for the first time, Dad and I laughed we were so happy. We were sure she’d get better. We picked out a pair of sneakers so she’d be able to walk out of the hospital in new shoes.

The hospital got an iPad, so we got one too. Yes, I know iPad supports Duo, but the nurses were baffled by it, so we got the iPad. I mostly use it to write letters to her now. I like to believe that a metaphysical postal service delivers them for me.

Lockdown ended. We had to wear full PPE to see her, but we could see her and she could see us. Kind of. She told me she’d been sad because she was starting to forget our faces. She hated our masks because she couldn’t see us smile. She hated our latex gloves because we held hands all the time and she missed simple, human contact. Despite all that, she was joyed to see us.
She was relieved and grateful to know for sure—FOR SURE—that we hadn’t forgotten her. That we missed her as much as she missed us. That we still loved her. Her vitals began to improve that day. Her doctors were impressed and a little confused.

But… we’d been separated for two months.

Her body just didn’t have anything left in reserve. Her spirit was back, and she fought hard, but there was nothing to fight with. And everything the doctors did for one system made another collapse. They couldn’t do anything that wouldn’t make something else worse. One doctor cried when he explained to me that he’d brought in every medical team in the hospital, but there was nothing anyone could do. My mother said ”I’m sorry” and I told her that none of this was her fault, that she did everything right. I said it truthfully. I said it fiercely. I heard a thump and turned toward the doctor. His back had hit the wall and he’d slid to the floor, his face cradled in his hands.

2020 has been a fucking rough year.

We brought her home. Hospice. She got to hug us and tease us and see us smile. She was so very happy for one, wonderful week, and then she was gone.

I’m glad and thankful we could do that for her. So many families this year had to say goodbye via FaceTime.

This has been a very long post, I know, and I’m sorry. But I’ve been wrapped up in my grief and shutting out the world.

Then a teenager who lived next door to me died.

Then Chadwick Boseman died.

Then Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.

Then Then Then.

Everyone is grieving. And for some reason we’ve forgotten that we’re all in this together. I need… I need us to remember. I don’t want one more person to be hurt by this fucking virus. Because Covid-19 has killed over 200,000 people in America alone. 200,000 people have families, extended families, found families, and friends grieving right now. In addition to all that tragedy, how many families have lost a loved one the way I lost my mother? How many families didn’t have to get wrecked? How many people are crying like I’m crying as I struggle to write this?

If we had all behaved as one tribe, if we all had worn our masks–not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors–how many families would not be mourning, feeling that months, days, seconds had been stolen during that final spark of life? If we had all looked out for each other, would my mother be alive today? I don’t know. I just know that Covid touches everyone, not just the people who contract it.

So what can you do for me in my time of grief?

Wear a mask. Vote.


“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

— Ruth Bader Ginsburg




“Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.”

— T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)




The past couple of weeks have been…

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

God, I don’t even know where to begin.

My brother had his seventh child last week. It was a high risk pregnancy and a dangerous birth, but both mother and son are fine now. My brother’s wife had to stay in the hospital for a bit so I babysat my two youngest nieces for three days and, while they are adorable, they set forth a very convincing argument against me ever ever having kids of my own. Thankfully, with the arrival of this seventh child (man, I find myself hoping this kid will have seven of his own children and that the seventh will be a boy just so I can say “Behold! The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son!”) has persuaded my mother that she has enough grandchildren. I’m officially (finally!) off the hook, even though I’m the oldest and apparently giving her grandchildren was my responsibility.

Two days later, my granddad died. It was surreal in the way it was both expected and unexpected. Expected because he was 96 or 97 (we’re not sure–he doesn’t…didn’t have a birth certificate) and was in the hospital for pneumonia. Unexpected because he’d been pretty healthy prior to that so none of us could have pictured him getting sick. He was the oldest member of my family.

Someone tried to give me a “circle of life” speech and I wasn’t hearing that shit. Was still in the “anger” stage of grief, I guess.

I went with my father and aunts to pick out a casket. I’d never been on that side of a funeral before. There was one they thought was good and also within their price-range, but when they asked for it in a darker shade of blue the lady at the funeral home said it would raise the price by two thousand dollars, because coffin manufacturers know that mourners generally want more somber colors and they price accordingly. It struck me as ghoulish.

My father and aunts agreed on the light blue coffin. They told the lady that they only had black suits for my granddad, though. She said she’d provide a navy suit free of charge. So zero points to faceless corporations, but at least five or six points for the compassion of real people.

The church service was nice. The preacher spent a lot of time reciting lyrics from five different hymns which I thought was odd, but I don’t know. It was only the third funeral I’d attended in my life, so maybe it wasn’t. The preacher actually knew my granddad, though, so I would have liked hearing more about him since he was the one giving the eulogy.

At the gravesite, they gave my father my granddad’s flag. He served in the U.S. Air Force before an official Air Force even existed. Technically he was a member of the U.S. Army’s Air Corps. How cool is that?

Then the service was over and my granddad was gone.

A lot of stuff happened afterwards, which I won’t write about here. Partly because it’s personal in the sense that you’d actually have to know me to have any sort of context. Partly because if I wrote the events as they happened down in a story, you would not be able to suspend your disbelief. So, so surreal.

But… my granddad is gone. I’m nowhere near acceptance yet. I think I’m stuck somewhere between bargaining and depression.

I didn’t intend to share as much as I just have. I guess I’m still trying to work through it.

So exhausted. I had plans, you know? Frivolous, fun plans. Was gonna post the first chapter of a new serial. Was going to buckle down and get some sequels done. I figured I’d get back to drawing. Possibly make a Captain America AMV because doing batshit fanboi things like that makes me happy. Animate something. Get to know my new nephew.

But right now I just want to sleep, which will be a trick because I have a fairly severe sleep disorder, but I’m gonna try anyway. If not, I’ll dink around tumblr since that is the ultimate distraction machine.

Next month. Next month I’ll try to pick up a few of the pieces that have scattered across the metaphorical floor.

Maybe.

Next page

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with a chronic illness that spun out of control and landed me in the hospital for a week in August. I hadn’t written any fiction for a long time before that, and when I got out of the hospital, I realized that my days of writing in glorious bursts of inspiration were probably over. Which was depressing.

But any time life knocks you down, you have to figure out how to adapt. I love writing, and I didn’t want to stop, so what do I do now?

Get to the next page. That’s my new work ethic. Pick a story and sit down every day to write with the goal of getting to the next page in the chapter, or manuscript or whatever. If I write more, great! But at least I’m always making progress.

So that’s my current philosophy. It’s slow, and can be frustrating as hell (remember that halcyon time when I would average a chapter a week, maybe more?), but I’m making progress. I’m adapting.

Just thought I’d share. 🙂