Maybe three just isn’t enough.
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.
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.
Wow….that last month has been filled with stuff that’s been overflowing from my head and running down my entire body, pooling around my feet in a mucky, sticky puddle that just won’t dry up or go away.
I have so much to write. I have so many drafts pending….. I’ll tell you why I haven’t been writing you soon. Just need to get my thoughts together.
And yes, I mean you Mike….and yes, Drew and MH you as well. It’s all the same in different ways.
So much to feel at once, I can never finish a post or an email. I think, when I get a chance this weekend, I’m just going to post it all in one, long, epic post that will answer everything, all at once.
One of the saddest parts of mental illness is that you’d never know it would you? You’d never look at this photo and think of how much suffering is going on behind my eyes. What a weird, deceptive game. I feel like everything is falling apart and I look like I have it together. Or maybe it’s just me.
Just remember, my friends, to never look only on the outside. My friend Sara died two years ago this week….by her own hand…the last photo I have of her is a happy one where she wears a huge smile and her eyes shine. No light there now…..no Sara there now. That scares the living shit out of me sometimes.