The Death I Missed

Before the call about Dayne’s grandmother, he and I were talking the other night about his dad and how hard it was for him to be there, watching him struggle and suffer; fight and give up for all those hours.  He told me he almost understood the flashbacks I used to have when the PTSD was in full flare up – where I’d hide in closets, whimpering, only to scream bloody murder if he so much as came within a foot of me, only able to see my dad and that neighbour who was welcome to take his fill of me whenever he wanted as a 13-year-old girl. He told me he was trying, so hard, to remember his dad alive and well but the only memory he could find in his head, day or night, was either the moment his father took his last breath or the time he watched my heart monitor flat-line before his eyes.

I was nodding, rubbing his back while tears slid down both our cheeks as we talked when I suddenly stopped for a moment, frozen.

“Oh!  You must mean when I was in labour with Colt and his heart beat stopped for those few, terrifying moments.”  Yes, that was a terrible moment for me too, even though I don’t fully remember it, I was so engrossed with labour and what was happening with my body and the little life within that was trying to get out.

Dayne looked at me, confused.  “No, babe, it wasn’t just Colt whose heart stopped…don’t joke about that.  It was really scary, watching you both die like that….slipping away from me.”

I had no idea what he was talking about.  What I remember is this: I was in labour all day. When Dayne finally got home around 7 that evening I was beyond pissed because the contractions were getting closer and stronger and he’d not answered his cell phone all day.  (I’d been frantically calling since about 2 that afternoon).  We went to the hospital and they checked me, declaring me almost 8 cm dilated so moved me right into a nice, private birthing room.  (Perk of working at the hospital – health care is covered in our federal taxes here in Canada, but that only allows for a semi-private room.  I got the royal treatment).  Labour was painful but I was calm throughout.  No drugs, no epidural…just a drifting, half dreaming state of consciousness that was somewhere between dreaming and dissociation from the pain. (haha!! Finally a good use for that shit!)  I remember a lot of moments but had no idea of the time passing.  I remember going into hard labour and kind of wishing I’d taken that epidural; I remember them putting my legs up on platforms that made my hips instantly cramp and I almost leapt from the bed in pain.  Dayne knew…he told then and they took the leg stirrups away.

It went on for a while…I don’t know how long.  I heard Dayne telling our nurse that he thought I’d fallen asleep and she told him it was okay, to let me rest.  Then the only constant in the room; that constant, comforting set of bleeps of the heart monitors they’d attached to Colt’s head and my pulse began to slow.  Then it really started to slow.  For a moment, I couldn’t hear a single sound and I pulled myself out of my meditation and locked eyes with my foster-mother, who had unwillingly come to witness the great event of the birth of her first grandchild. (she forced herself – I never would have wanted that…i thought it was a nice thing to do for her, not something she’d hate).

“Mom?  What’s wrong?  What’s going on?” I heard myself say but she didn’t answer.

I heard the nurse, Bev, telling me that I was okay and not to panic.  She said that when I opened my eyes I was going to see a lot of people in the room, but not to worry, they were just there to make sure the baby and I were both okay.  I did open my eyes for a second and, indeed, the room was packed with medical staff.  There was an adult crash team, a crash cart (Paddles out and turned on), a pediatric crash team, an obs doc dressed in scrubs with two nurses scrubbed by his side, a resident down between my legs holding a scalpel very close to my body and an attending doc, dictating her every move.  I felt a ripping, tearing pain suddenly and half sat up making the first noise I’d made in hours….something like ow-ow-ow-oww-oww!  and a whole bunch of strangers began to murmur comforting sounds.  The next moment I remember was Bev saying to me:

“Grainne!  Open your  eyes!  Look Grainne!  Look!” and I did.  And there he was, upside down, purple, drenched and heartily screaming his lungs out.  Colt had joined the world.

“Oh!  It’s a boy!”  I remember saying (my mother was absolutely convinced he was a girl) and I looked for her but she was huddled in the corner, teary eyed and trembling.  Dayne had left my side the moment they took Colt to the other side of the room for the peds and team to examine.  There was a lot of suction and fussing about, but, eventually he was laid in my arms as the resident stitched up my episiotomy after injecting a ton of freezing. All I could see was him.  I wanted him close to me….on my skin.  They brought my cleaned up and air-way suctioned Colt, all wrapped in blankets and lay him in my arms.  That moment was one of the most peaceful and happy of my life.  (The outright screaming began that night and didn’t cease until he was two, but, there was peace for those first moments as he tried to figure out what the hell just happened.)  We were moved to another ward and Colt and I watched the sun come up as he tried to breastfeed and I tried to help him between bouts of crying in frustration and terrifyingly scary moments when he started to choke and cough up some of the thick mucously muconium from the birth.

That is my memory.  But, apparently, I missed the entire part where I freaking died.

Dayne, haltingly, recounted the moments from when he thought I’d fallen asleep and alerted the nurse, to the moments the heart monitors went down steadily together in their decline, both mine and Colts.  He said that my monitor stopped first, completely, and then Colt followed.  They called a double code for us and my mother and Dayne were shoved to the side of the room as crash carts and teams came running in at 3 in the morning.  The adult team got me ready for defib and one of the nurses pumped breath into me while Bev gave me chest compression to keep my heart beating.  He said the paddles were charged and hovering in the air, inches from my chest, the obs/gyn resident ready to slice me open to get the baby out, when the Attending told her to wait.  Dayne said the heaviest silence ever hung in the air for what felt like hours but was, in reality about 20 seconds, when my heart kicked in again on its own and Colt’s followed.  The very moment that happened Bev told me not to worry about all the people in my room when I opened my eyes, saw the people, closed them again; the resident sliced into me, I reacted to that pain, half sitting up and making the only sound I think I made through the entire labour.  Colt was instantly released from my body after the cut and Bev was telling me to look….to open my eyes and look and my new little life who then became and yet always was, my son.

One of the docs came to my side, wiped the hair from my face, stuck there with sweat, and said “welcome back mom”.  I had no idea what he meant but I more or less dismissed it.  My mother remained huddled in the corner, terrified, and Dayne followed Colt wherever they took him until he was finally placed in my arms.

All in all, it was likely only a minute or two that all that chaos and heart function trouble happened but I can imagine the eternity it must have felt like from the outside.  Suddenly a whole lot of memories make sense now too….I just honestly never realized what had happened.  Everyone assumed I MUST have known.  I mean, how do you die and not know?  Well…..apparently it’s a thing.  My thing, at least.

Strangely, what bothered me most about knowing the whole story nearly 13 years later, is that there was nothing there.  No light, no relatives coming to welcome me to the afterlife.  If anything, I felt like I was tumbling in and out of consciousness, much like I do some days when the narcolepsy gets me good.  I was saying things that no one could hear but me, doing things no one but me noticed…..and I had no heart beat for a short while.  I was worried about the baby not having one but it never struck me that I was in trouble.  Just a big blank…dark, half sleepy, painless, unfeeling, uncaring black.  I so hope that’s not what my end will be when I do finally reach it.  If so, I’d so much rather stay here with the suffering and living of life.

I don’t know what else to say about all that except that it’s scary enough hearing about what I did and said in my sleep without knowing it.  Being close to dead and not knowing it for over a decade…..that’s a whole next level deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death again

I have three posts I want to write all at once and I’m not sure which should go first.  I suppose I’ll default to chronological order, starting today.

Today….well, 230 am today (Thurs) Dayne’s phone went off.  We both woke up and I just about snatched his phone out of his hand….the poor guy has had enough this month.  Of course, he answered and it was his step mother.  Her mom had a bad fall in the bathroom and hit her head something awful.  Head wounds bleed SO much you’d never believe it if you’ve never seen it, so I was hoping it was a ‘worse than it looked’ situation.  Mind you, grandma is 98 years old and broke her hip less than two years ago after a similar fall.

Lisa – step mother, is obviously rather distraught.  She got the call and rushed to the hospital to find her mom in the bed directly next to the one George occupied while he died less than a month ago.  It was one room away…the same nurses were on staff….I don’t even like thinking about how painful that must have been.

Dayne, being the guy he is, was ready to pack up and go down there to help his “mom” through things if her mother happened to die from this accident, which she may well do considering her age and fragility.  To make things even worse, tomorrow would have been George and Lisa’s anniversary….his birthday was Feb 28th…(would have been)…there are just too many things she must be going through to be keeping it together.

I don’t want to belabor this point, but this woman was NOT good to Dayne growing up.  His childhood is full of memories of rejection, being disowned and unloved….I mean, the guy was five years old when she tossed a house key at him and told him he could come home from kindergarten and make his own damn lunch.  He remembered being alone.  A lot.  That and the times his dad took him to work with him when he drove a cab overnight for extra cash.  The MS meds he took kept him up late into the night so he decided to use the time to make more money.  That family is all about money, yet they never seem to have any handy.  But again, I’m not sure the past is really as relevant as I used to think it was.

I told Dayne, when he asked what he should do, that he should follow his heart.  Lisa has many brothers and sisters that will be able to stand guard and make the hard decisions fr their mom, should it come to that. I told him that if she was dying, that he was well entitled to go say his goodbyes (they’ve never been close, this side of the family and Dayne – if you’ve not realized that already.  They were all told he was a foster kid until he was in his 20’s).  I told him he could go be there for his step mom, as his dad would have really appreciated, but then again, she has two daughters who are doing nothing to help her and are only demanding her time, babysitting, money and sympathy.  They don’t seem to realize that Lisa was actually married to George and loved him somehow…it’s the way of that side of his family….they only see things from their own point of view.  If one is suffering, it’s the responsibility of everyone but them to make it better.  I imagine the girls will both show up eventually though….that’s the part of the family who has money.  Lots of it too.  The two would be there with their hands out, awaiting their cheque for visiting.  (Grandmother gives her kids 10K each Christmas and the grandkids get a few hundred dollars each.  Dayne, although very much a grandchild of theirs, got nothing.  Colt wasn’t even acknowledged as a part of their family when they found out he was disabled.  So….they can keep their money….is pretty much my opinion and thankfully, Dayne agrees.

I wanted to take a bit of the stress off of Dayne so I went WAY outside my comfort zone and texted Lisa….a woman I am not fond of in any way, to tell her I had heard about her mom and that I hoped she (Lisa) was holding up okay.  I said that I knew her daughters were struggling with the death of their dad, as I knew she was as well, and offered my phone number and ear should she ever need to talk to someone not directly involved in the mess that is their family.  I’ve known this woman for over 15 years, although I would never call her a friend, we do have some familiarity.  I was very heart-felt in my words used and felt true empathy for the woman and her answer was so curt it almost made me sorry I’d ever tried.

I wrote:

Hi Lisa, It’s Grainne.  Dayne told me about your mom and what happened last night.  I hope she’s okay (heart).  Head wounds bleed like crazy so I’m hoping it looked worse than it was.
I’m texting also because I know the girls are struggling (as we all are) after losing George.  If you need someone to text or if there’s anything I can do for you please let me know?   So much loss in such a short time must have your head spinning.  Dayne is worried about you…..I just wanted you to know I was here too.

Lisa’s answer:

Thank you for your concern.  Mom needs 2 stitches.  There was lots of blood.  Doctor will see her soon.

…..and that was that.  Geez eh?  “Thank you for your concern; your business is important to us.  Please stay on the line and our next customer service specialist will be will you as soon as possible……

So I tried.  She apparently doesn’t want to talk.   I told Dayne and he figured she was pissed at me for not texting her when George died.  I don’t know though…she’s not really been a hugely emotive person since I met her.  Well, except when she spent the entirety of Colt’s first birthday openly and desperately flirting with my foster-father in front of his wife and her husband.  She kept asking me if I found my sexually abusive father if I found his UK accent sexy.  ….  :/   Fuck.  Anyway.  That’s that.  I feel bad for her but I’m not chasing this woman around to help her, especially when she’s spent the last 40 years making Dayne’s life as miserable as she can.

All that said, I’ve got 20 bucks on Dayne not coming home tonight if his grandmother (who never talks to him because he hated George and, therefore, hated Dayne by proxy) isn’t discharged.  I really don’t want him to have to drive up to that same hospital, walk the same hallways and go to the same ICU, just one room over from the hardest moments of his life that are still so fresh….. but, he will do what he thinks is right.  That is one of the most remarkable things about this man….he always seems to know exactly what he should and should not do, based on his own internal compass, and he just digs in and does it.  He’s almost always right too.

Maybe I should be more like him but, truthfully, the thought of catering to people I kind of hate, makes me all skin-crawly and want to curl up into a ball, under blankets, under my bed for a month of sleep.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this. I’m not sure I even want to though.  It makes me tired just thinking it over.

 

 

 

Life…Right?

It’s been a rather….(I’m stuck between ‘eye opening’ and ‘predictable’ as odd as that sounds) month.  I had lots of posts half-written, some angry, some sorrowful, some almost funny, but I knew better than to post them and make them (my) reality. Something in me kept telling me to just see it through.  A friend from work who I used to work closely with while supporting the execs, managed a department that was constantly relevant to the work I had to do.  She invited me to her office and gave me some very sound advice that rings through my head in times likes this.  We were discussing the god-complex, primadonna, three-year-old temper tantrum-like ways some of the people I worked around tried to get their agenda pushed to the top of the pile, and how all the people under them got coated, head to toe, in the shit that would invariably run downhill the valleys below.

At the very bottom of that valley, there was an old hunting shack made of re-purposed barn boards; sunlight and air flowed freely through the holes between the boards wherever the wood warped.  It was right on the very edge of the water and was the absolute last thing between the ‘kingdom’ and nothingness.  I lived in that fucking shack for five years and the shit had piled so high, I couldn’t even open the door.

So, in an impromptu meeting based solely on the worry my friend was experiencing as she watched me sink, she said to me:

“You know, in the many years I have worked in this role, I have learned one thing very well.  Whenever the smallest crisis strikes, everyone, and I do mean everyone, will start to run around, panicking and ringing all the alarm bells like it’s the end of the world. What I do, is just sit back, keep my name entirely out of the loop unless absolutely necessary and even then, I say as little as possible.  In a few days, maybe even a week, everyone will have collapsed with exhaustion, all the angst and blame tossing will be argued, defended and argued again to its conclusion, and then, once the actual issue has come to the surface again, I casually join in, provide the answers I have known all along and the issues is resolved within a day.”

She was telling me to not get caught up in the false and useless energy-depleting chaos of others.  It clicked with me on so many levels I could see the relevance in many places in my life and I did…and here I am, having cleverly waited to watch the panic and chaos swirl through all the living members of Dayne’s family on all sides, before making any judgements or conclusions and I did NOT set off my PTSD and I did NOT fall to anxiety, depression and isolation as I usually would.  (I’m pretty proud of myself for that.  I have bad, bad cycles and even after all these years of work on myself, I am prone to find myself in the middle of one before I realize it’s even happening.)

So here’s the dirt…it’s been sifted through, attacked from all angles; lies upon lies have been told, believed, cried over and busted then cried over some more (not my tears, incidentally).  Here’s the after story of what happened when George died.

If you read my last two posts you’ll likely hear the slight panic in my words from the thought of trying to assimilate myself into an active family life where a whole group of people stay in touch regularly and are there for each other when things go bad.  I was preparing myself for family dinners, exhausting weekend trips to visit family and having to put up with the constant obligation of being attached to someone else.  I found it nearly impossible to do with my own family….never mind Dayne’s crazy relatives but, as I said in my post, for him and for Colt, I will do whatever feels best for THEM.  I don’t want to be 80 and have Colt at my deathbed asking me why I never gave him the vast family he actually is a part of.  I don’t want Colt to feel like I kept that from him, if it’s something he could benefit from. Mind you, there’s a good reason I don’t have them in my life so why they would be essential to his, is a bit overwhelming to think about.  Anyway, off topic already are we? Back to the point.

After the initial lightning strike of fear that slammed through me at the very thought of somehow forcing myself to have all these people in my world, I let it all go and watched from the sidelines, trying to support Dayne as best I could without getting involved.  I still have texts written and unsent on my phone to Dayne’s two sisters and his step mother, offering my condolences and sadness over the loss of George.  I didn’t want to become another conduit for their….mess.

Bits of necessary info to help this make sense:  The first sister, Carolyn, is the older of the two. Susan is the younger and was ‘daddy’s little girl’ and could get George to do anything for her which caused endless competition between them throughout their lives.  They are less than two years apart in age and are the natural children of George and his wife.  George, is Dayne’s natural father and then there are hundreds of foster children who moved through that house over the years that Dayne grew up.  The girls came a bit later and that’s when the fostering pretty much stopped so they could focus on their own family.  

George died.  Dayne stayed with him from the time he was extubated and conscious again until he took his very last breath.  Lisa, his step mother, Carolyn and Susan came and went home to shower and sleep while Dayne stood guard, the entire time.  When they pulled all the artificial support from George and, on Dayne’s request, took all the pain away with constant end-of-life doses of morphine, it took George the entire day to die.  They all stood with him, waiting and waiting.  Eventually Lisa gave up and went home.  It was just George and his three kids around him when he left this world.  Dayne took care of his step mother, who returned to the hospital to be told that her husband was gone.  He drove her home and stayed with her until she fell asleep.  George’s dog sat at the front door, unwilling to move, waiting for George to come home and Dayne, heartbroken himself, even tried to comfort the dog before he left.

One day after George died – Carolyn, who has always been difficult to trust due to her tendency to lie about just about everything she says, was the first to start constantly calling Dayne.  She had their dad’s credit cards, bank cards, iPhone and other various account that held information she wanted access to.   She said she didn’t want their mother getting her hands on everything because she knew Lisa would take all the money and other stuff for herself.   Apparently, she also went to George’s workplace (where he worked part-time and was quite valued for his ability to repair just about any electronic or mechanical tool or device) and told them not to pack and ship George’s things to his house, but to allow her access to take his stuff on her own.  They did, not realizing she had a key to the shop, stolen from her dad’s key chain, and she cleaned out his office taking everything in sight.  All the tools, that would actually be useful to Dayne in his own work, were needed by Carolyn’s husband who apparently liked to ‘fix stuff’ or some such shit.

Susan, the second most talented pathological liar in the family, had gone into the family hone and took all of her dad’s jewelry and took all of his shirts and other personal items.  She wanted everything, but got caught in the house by her mom and was chased out.  Lisa, for all her odd and very un-maternal like behaviour, wanted Dayne to have some things from his dad.

Then we heard that Lisa had changed the locks on the house, locking the girls out because they had already gone in and raided the place.  There were accusations and arguments as the girls went on a mission to find Georges hidden post office box (LOL).  They went everywhere, trying to find something registered in his name and their efforts paid off, even though working against each other.  One of them found it….the other found the key. When they gave up and decided to work together, all they found was that it was a place George has his secret credit card statements sent and other secret transactions were made.  Lisa watched their finances like a hawk and he was forever getting credit on the sly.

This brings me to the point when they all found out that he had debt that Lisa didn’t know about.  Dayne knew…for a while George was having some of his bills sent to our address to hide them from Lisa.  There were also business taxes due on the internet provider business he had running through his server at home.  Dayne would have liked that machine but apparently it’s already gone.  No one will admit to taking it.

At this this point, Carolyn had all the expensive tools and access to most of his credit cards and iPhone.  Susan has all the jewelry, clothing, computer stuff and personal effects.  Lisa was discovering things she didn’t know about, and totally unlike herself, was taking it all in stride and was doing pretty well, getting everything in order and not being the bitch she always had been to Dayne.  Then we all found out that, although George and told everyone he had already (long ago) made arrangements for his cremation after death and that all of his credit was fully insured so there would be nothing for the family to worry about after he died, was another lie.  There was nothing in place.  Everything was falling to Lisa and the places she might have been able to access some info that would help her were hidden behind passwords that none of us knew.  Lisa paid for what she could (she now is on disability as she has a rapidly degrading lung disease and relied on George for pretty much everything) and now she is liquidating everything he owned to his ‘estate’ so the Government can take it’s taxes and the business can be bankrupted.  There will be less than nothing left….somehow Dayne knew this but the girls had no idea.  They still think there is money out there for them somewhere.

Current state:  Lisa is working through the loss of her husband and is starting to see the lack of humanity in her daughters.

Susan isn’t talking to Dayne because he ‘wasn’t there for her’ when she needed him in the middle of a night.  She was expecting Dayne to replace George in her life….the one who would take care of her no matter what and never turn her down for anything.  Ever.

Carolyn isn’t talking to Dayne because he was miffed when she spelled his name wrong in Georges Obit…AND didn’t bother mentioning his eight brothers and sisters living in Eastern Canada.  These are Dayne’s people, not theirs, so they never bothered.

The group out East has reached out to Dayne and he continues to catch up with them, even though the invites to come over for a vacation died down pretty fast.  I started a private FB page for the family that did not include the girls or the step mother’s family and Dayne said it has been deeply appreciated and healing for that entire family.  People are connecting and hundreds of memories and photos are being shared between people who loved George and Dayne before Lisa came along.

Carolyn got busted by George’s workplace who called Lisa to tell her that most of what was taken had not belonged to George at all, in fact, almost all of the tools were paid for by the company and given to George to work with but the understanding was that they belonged to the shop, not him.  She was forced to box it all back up and return the loot before they called the cops on her.  Same went for the credit cards and bank accounts.  Dayne called the bank George dealt with most to advise that he had died.  Amazingly, Lisa had beat him to it…she was already doing the right thing and getting everything in order.

Susan and Carolyn are now locked in a battle to prove which of them was more affected by the death of their father.  Carolyn insists she’s depressed and that a psychiatrist prescribed her ‘sleeping pills’ on her first visit, after diagnosing her with depression.

Huh.  That’s a new treatment style, right there isn’t it now?  ffs she KNOWS about my mental health and KNOWS I’ve been on antidepressants for years but still, she insists that a ‘narcotic level sleeping pill’ has been prescribed to treat her depression.  On visit number one.  No follow up.  :S  

Susan is the worst of the two. She can’t handle the death at all and went from talking about how she was going in for her eighth ‘reconstructive surgery’ because SIX YEARS AGO giving birth to her daughter ‘shredded her uterus, cervix and all reproductive organs. Nothing particularly unusual happened when her child was born, no one ever mentioned the previous surgeries but…okay then….maybe her body was just not made for baby making.  Anyway, she went from that to telling us all about how her husband had been diagnosed with either MS or ALS, that the diagnosis was definite and there was a spinal tap scheduled for the following Monday to determine which it was…..which never happened.  Then, she said he had lesions on his brain that were identified in a CT recently which put a hold on the lumbar puncture, and that he needed emergency brain surgery …. which never happened.  Now, he apparently has an issue causing him to constantly bleed from his ass.  No hemorrhoids or anything, but after several professed emerg visits, he was told emergency surgery would be scheduled to ‘staple’ something up there that was bleeding.  That was two weeks ago and as far as we know…nothing has happened.  Then there was the tale of how she’s adopted a crack baby from a friend because she’s unable to have more kids due to the damage of childbirth  …….

And there, I have to stop because I start to get angry.  Susan is demanding her mother pay for therapy for her….Lisa, is living on nearly nothing now, trying to get her dead husband’s estate in order.  She’s not doing well herself, but those two girls only call her to demand things from her.  She’s not in a giving mood.

Now, we are back to being outsiders.  Neither sister calls or wants to be in Colt’s life anymore.  Lisa is doing her thing and the relatives out east have settled down, having been given a place to share their memories. Everything falls back to normal, no family to embrace, no visits and family dinners scheduled or requested.  It’s back to no phone calls, no texts and just Dayne, Colt and I working our way though Dayne’s loss.

Nothing really changes in life, you know? People have intentions and think they’ve changed their mind, but really, they stay the same.  It’s reliving to me, not having to pretend I like these people for Dayne and Colt’s sake.  It’s also so sad…..but Dayne, despite being willing to try for these people, seems to have known all along it would be as it always was.  I waited out the chaos and here I find myself back at the beginning.  Life goes on and things are as they were, minus one person Dayne loved despite the bad memories.

Somehow, Dayne’s early departure from that family (he was out at 15, same as me, different but just as difficult a situation) saved him from becoming like them.  There’s much to be thankful for in that.  I do miss George, although I’d not spoken to him in years, but it makes Dayne’s life so much more guilt free now that he feels he’s done his part.  And what a job he did.  I feel lucky to have him and Colt now, in an entirely new and beautiful way…..and I didn’t think I could ever love them more.

Surprise Grainne.  There’s always more.

 

Maybe…

Maybe three just isn’t enough.

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Changes

Dayne came home after taking his step mother home.  She didn’t want him to leave her so he stayed a while, until she fell asleep.  So here’s this man, Dayne, who not only found the strength to sit by his father’s side for the last thirty-six hours of his life, made decisions he thought his father would have wanted, and then battled out all the sadness and angst in his family between the step mother, two step sisters and the dozens of people who showed up to say goodbye to George.  He didn’t want a funeral so there will be nothing done at this point, but the sisters will be writing and posting a eulogy in the local paper and Dayne is going to send something to the nurses who worked so hard to make his dad’s last hours comfortable ones.

George hated dying.  He hated not being in control and absolutely hated being doted on.  He tried, constantly, to pull the tube from his throat while intubated and removed his oxygen mask every moment he could.  Dayne fought with him the entire night, telling him he had to wait until the morning when his sisters and step mom could be there.  They all went home to ‘rest up’ while Dayne sat tirelessly by his bedside.  George would not have wanted to be alone there…in that hospital bed, and Dayne knew and stayed.  He fought with the hospital admin who told him he had to leave and was so kind to the nurses who helped his father so much.  He got home a few hours ago and told me, over and over, how many people came to him and hugged him, or laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, telling him that he was a good son and was making the right choices for his dad.  Apparently, along with the pneumonia, there was a serious heart condition and a respiratory disease George kept to himself for several years.  He was never one to be ‘doted’ on.  Dayne never left his side and yet called and texted me constantly, making sure Colt was okay.  I kept telling Colt what was going on, gently, and the kid just kept trying to console me, wiping my tears away and hugging me, telling me to breathe with him deeply….in…..and out.  In and out.  “It’s okay mom.  Just breathe.”  I tried to tell him it was okay to be sad but he was so desperate to make me feel better I ended up just letting it go.  When Dayne finally texted me that George was gone, I told Colt and he only wanted to know when his dad would be home so he could give him a hug and tell him it was going to be okay.

George made Dayne promise one thing before he left.  He made him promise to try to love his family and build a relationship with his sisters and other family members.  The sisters were open with Dayne and they both told him they were hurt and missed him, not understanding why he had decided to cut them all out of his life.  They talked a lot and mended so many wounds.  I fell, selfishly left out of it all but they are not my family, they are his and no matter how hard I tried to get him to let us come, he wouldn’t have Colt see the pain his father was in and the heartbreak Colt’s father was going through.  I still feel like an asshole for not being there, but I did what Dayne asked me to do and was here waiting for him when he got home.

So he’s going to try to repair the relationship with his sisters and aunts/uncles on his step mother’s side of the family, all of whom came to say goodbye.  I told him I would do anything he wanted to do…would follow and back up his decisions.  His sisters want to know Colt and they have several kids who are his cousins.  Colt’s great grand parents went to see George (on his mother’s side) and they wanted to see him too…everyone made it very clear, foster brothers and sisters, step sisters, step mother, step aunts and uncles and grandparents, all rallied around Dayne, knowing he was the only one who sat there with his dad and was the only one who would ever be strong enough to do so.  They all asked about me (he said, but I don’t believe my name came up) and Colt.  They want to be a part of his life somehow, even in the background, and how could I possibly deny Colt even a small slice of family who wants to know and love him?  I can’t.  So….we will start a  new perspective and try this again….this family thing.

Dayne told me it was okay if I didn’t join in.  I was allowed to stay back while he and Colt built relationships with these people.  He knows me so well.  The very thought of all this brings up such panic in me.  I am happy in my little bubble, socially maladapted and completely alone with the two of them but…I’ll never deny either of them the family the both long for.  I hate that I might not be a part of that, but I’m terrified of the relationships I’m going to have to either hide from completely and watch from the side lines for the good of my son, or join in and try.  I’ve never done this well.  I don’t know how to feel.

If we have a relationship with his sisters and other relatives, how can I not reach out to my own brother and sister?  My mother?  If I do that, can I still not talk to my father?  They hate Dayne…all of them.  All I can see is hatred, pain, anger and anxiety.  Will Christmas suddenly become me taking Colt to my mother’s house to spend a tense and unhappy visit and then sending him off with his dad to visit his aunts and cousins while I…what?  Sit here on the couch and watch Youtube videos?  I don’t know how this shit works and I don’t know my place in it.  At all.

All I know is that I’m glad Dayne is home, I’m glad George is out of pain and I feel so much for these people….all a big mass in my chest.  George is gone.  Dayne’s mother needs him even though she’s never loved him and he wants to be there.  He wants Colt to know his grandma, but maybe not his other grandparents on my side.  I’m not sure I want Colt to know them either.  My father, when Colt was born, offered to “take him for the weekend and straighten him out” to stop the constant crying and misery.  I almost threw up right there and vowed right then to never, ever, allow Colt to be alone with my dad.  My half siblings and mother are angry with me and they hate Dayne; blame him for so much and then are overwhelmed by Colt’s disabilities.  I don’t think this is a place I want to go back to, but this was like a pact Dayne and I went into together….we were going to leave the past behind and start a new life for Colt that wouldn’t be tainted by our miserable pasts.  Dayne feels differently now, having watched his father die, and I understand that so well….but I don’t know where I fit in here.  I don’t think I’m part of the plan to move forward and, if I choose not to engage, I am sure it will happen without me.  So there goes my bubble of solitude…my lifeless, half-arsed fake relationships at work that are kept healthy only because I am forced to see these people every day.

I am proud of Dayne.  I’m proud of the child we share who only wants his mom and dad to not feel any pain and to stay happy and safe.  I’m ashamed of myself though.  I wasn’t there, I didn’t say goodbye and, again, I left Dayne to face a loss that tore him apart without being there for him.  When his best friend died a few years back we were on the outs and I didn’t know my place.  He asked me to make sure Colt was okay and I did that.  This time, it was the same, only there were so many tears and so much loss.

I have to get up for work in a few hours and my entire face is swollen from sobbing.  I let Dayne tell me everything…every detail and every moment and he is now sleeping on the couch across from me, not having slept in days.  Colt is asleep in his bed, satisfied and happy again now that his dad is home.  The cats are even happy again, loving him up….Daisy cuddling Colt as he constantly kicks her off his bed; Jack, who literally sat on me the entire time Dayne was gone, now cuddled into Dayne’s side.  I can hear him purr from here.  Everyone is going to be okay but my life is about to change in ways I don’t know I can handle.  I will never hold either of these boys back.  Never.  Even if it means I need to curl into a ball and isolate myself from everything I will never hold them back.

Then again, my foster-mother loved me, even though she threw me to the wolves and never bothered to protect me from the monster that was her husband.  I loved my brother and sister so much I took every moment of abuse from our father just so they never felt the pain I felt.

I think I’ll just lie down and go to sleep.  My eyes are so swollen from crying I can barely see and tomorrow is going to be a hellish day at work.  I missed today and that’s going to fuck me over. Giant bags and swollen eyelids won’t help that much.  I’ve had an ice pack on my eyes for hours and it’s not going down.

Can I just crawl into my closet and hide from the world for a while?  Please?  I don’t think I can do this family thing…and now George is gone and I have no way to tell him I’m sorry that the last time I talked to him, I turned him away.  I don’t like Dayne’s family.  I don’t like how he hurts because of them….but if he wants them, I can’t stand in the way.  I already feel like I’ve fucked everyone up here.  Maybe I was meant to be alone.  Maybe they would be better off if they didn’t have me dragging them down so they could be loved by many, rather than just by me.

I don’t belong here.  I should have been there.  I have so much regret and so much guilt and yet I wish everything could just go back to the way it was.

Perspective

It’s all in your perspective, I think….the way you deal with things that happen.  Dayne’s father is no longer suffering.  He’s out there in the nowhere, hopefully meeting up with his long lost best friend, his mom and the many others he has lost along the way.

Rest peacefully George.  Thank you for the good you brought into Dayne’s life.  He loved you no matter what, even at the worst of times.  I’m glad you had your family around you when you went.  Don’t worry about Dayne.  I’ll take good care of him for you and will never keep him from the life he wants to live.

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The things in my head while I sit and wait

Early Sunday morning, Dayne’s cell phone went off.  It was the sort of hour that one only receives bad news via phone calls, so, we knew something was up.  Dayne’s family is an odd bunch.  His family is essentially not his own and there were a lot of foster kids going through that place, well cared for or otherwise, it was what it was.

When he was born, both of his parents were under 20 and his mother had some serious mental health issues.  She basically gave birth to him and then, the moment she was able, she got dressed and split, leaving Dayne behind.  There were a few battles in the following year when his mother regretted her decision and tried to take him back from his very young father, but through some very …. questionable methods, Dayne ended up entirely in his father’s care.  After a few years, he met his current wife and they went on to have two children of their own and the foster kid train started.

I’m not shy about saying that the new wife was a crazy bitch and took full advantage of everything and everyone she could.  She resented Dayne the entire way through and despite her being the only mother figure he had in the world, he was not ever recognized as ‘her’ son.  He was not part of family functions with the rest of her family and Dayne has many years of memories of being alone.  When he was 5 he walked home for lunch from school on his own and would have to eat whatever portion of crap she left in the fridge for him.  I guess it was a different time, as I also recall walking home for lunch when I was just a few years older than he was, but it was to a stay at home mother who would have something ready for me to eat like canned zoodles and grilled cheese.  Big difference there.

He was dropped off at strangers homes (neighbours they knew, but certainly not friendly with) on Christmas eve while they took off to Florida.  The unsuspecting neighbours never knew what to do or say to this child who arrived on their doorstep.  Many of them tried to make things better for Dayne and managed a few gifts and made him feel welcome, but the next year, they would be sure not to answer the door when they saw the family coming.  There were so many things like this…just so many.

Dayne grew up feeling unwanted and unloved.  He adored his father and thought him to be the smartest man in the world.  It was a crushing blow when he discovered that hid dad was mainly full of crap and embellished stories and knowledge to hide the true feelings of inadequacy that lay just beneath the surface.  That’s not to say that Dayne was given any special treatment – his parents treated their own kids the same.  All of them were kicked out of the house long before they finished high school.  They had an odd, dismissive way of parenting.  Basically, the fact you were allowed to live there was gift enough and the rest was none of their business or responsibility.  The foster kids had it better because there was more regulation around them, but not much better, that’s for sure.

There were a lot of things that happened between the time I started dating him and met his family and now that have left the bunch of them estranged.  It’s just been in the past few years that Dayne has been talking to his father again, mostly on the phone, and has just started a few chats with one of his two step sisters.  I’ve struggled with this part a lot.  They hurt Dayne so deeply…..all of them did….and I hated to see him suffer.  They all turned him away when he needed them most and he forgave them; they lied to him repeatedly and he forgave them; his step mother treated his dad like her own personal slave and his father, so afraid of being alone, constantly chose her over everyone else. When Colt was born, the step mother didn’t ‘count’ him as a grandchild because Dayne was not her son.  His father, on our last visit over there when Colt was a toddler, got upset with Dayne when he didn’t agree with something he said and his response was to say:

“I wish I could go back in time and find your mother when she was pregnant with you so I could beat the shit out of her until you were aborted.”

That was it for me.  Dayne too.  He stopped talking to his family for a while.  This wasn’t an isolated incident though, it was just the way things were between them.  It horrified me even more than my own dealings with my foster family and, supporting Dayne, I bowed out of any relationship we had.

So life goes on….and suddenly Dayne is talking about taking Colt to see his grandfather. The idea terrified our son who has no idea who this man is because he was never willing to visit us.  The step mother wouldn’t come and wouldn’t allow his dad to visit without her so, we didn’t see him.  There was a single attempt to sneak out to meet up but it went bad and Dayne did not want to put Colt through the confusion of having people in and out of his life….he’s not one who would understand such blatant changes and the swing between being loving and kind to hating and angry over almost nothing.  We talked about it and decided we’d let Colt decide.  I said I’d go so we could play Minecraft on our phones together so he wasn’t too nervous about having to talk to this grandfather he never knew.  That’s where we were when phone rang in the middle of the night.

Dayne’s dad has MS.  He’s fought it like nothing I’ve ever seen before and, all things considered, did amazingly well in life.  He figured out how to live with it, no matter how bad it got.  There was a period of terrible seizures, black outs, blindness, inability to walk, move or balance…..he has lesions on his brain and some mass in his lung but he just kept going and going.  This flu that has been going around this part of the country that is causing such a problem was rampant in the office that Daynes dad worked at part-time.  He didn’t protect himself and caught it, then, almost immediately developed pneumonia, half filling his good lung.  He drove himself to the hospital on Saturday and was admitted.  The sedated and intubated him while draining his lungs but once extubated his heart started struggling.  I convinced Dayne to go to him yesterday afternoon, and he did….he’s been by his side ever since, staying the night to make sure his dad didn’t rip out his IV’s and oxygen, which he did every chance he got.  This morning, the two girls, the wife and Dayne assembled to decide on what to do.  His dad has a DNR so the choices weren’t exactly expansive.  At 11 this morning, they started pumping him full of pain killers to stop the agony he was in all night long, removed his IV’s and turned off the machines.  For the last five hours, they have stood by him as his heart and blood pressure goes wildly up and down and his breathing gets more laboured.  He finally fell asleep and is out of pain and now they wait…..just stand there and wait.

Dayne is devastated and I’m not there with him.  The guilt is overwhelming.  He’s been calling me in tears every few hours but would not let me come.  He doesn’t want Colt to see that – seeing him so torn to pieces will really confuse and terrify Colt, no matter what. All of Colt’s life, it has been just the three of us and although we are trying to expose him to as many real life situations as we can….prepare the kid somehow for what life is like out there….this is one thing that might be way too much for him to handle.  I’ve been trying to explain to him what’s happening, and why.  I start to cry and Colt immediately comes to comfort me.  It’s all backwards and confusing and I just want to be there for Dayne but I can’t.  So….I’ve sat here all night and all day, calling out of work, waiting for this man to die.

The hardest part is hearing Dayne say that it’s his own fault for not taking his dad up on rebuilding their relationship over this last year.   That said, he did spend the night talking with him, forgiving him and making their peace.  I’m so glad they had that chance, as most of us don’t.  The phone call no one wants to get is so often that it’s already too late.

Now I’m stuck thinking about my own family and the horrible way things went.  If the past is the past for Dayne and his dad, should it be the same for me and my family? My father won’t be able to hurt me anymore, not the way he did back then, and I already had the big talk about how we wanted to put the whole ‘dropping me off and driving away when I was 15 to fend for myself on the streets’.  We ended up able to still have somewhat of a relationship after that.  I need to figure out if my parents who raised me….sort of… should be forgiven and if I should take advantage of the time that is left or if it should all be left in the past.

This isn’t about me though…it’s about Dayne and his dad.  I asked every loved person I’ve ever lost to go be with Dayne and to help his dad let go….because he really needs to let go. I am sitting here, an hour away, protecting our son from this horrible part of life and I feel like I’ve just stepped out of the picture and all I can do is wait.  It was hard to watch Dayne suffer their neglect and lies and now it’s hard to watch him suffer the loss.  Where is that line between forgiveness and self protection?  Maybe the thing that scares me the most is the thought of no one being there with me when my day comes.   Who will stand at my bedside and hold my hand while I slip away?  Dayne?  Surely – and our son as well.  Maybe that’s enough.  Maybe the others don’t want me in their world anyway.

So I sit.  I field tearful phone calls and offer support, love and sympathy.  I want this horrible moment to be over for all of them and I wish I could do something to make it different.  But I can’t.  So I wait….and I hate every single moment of it.