August 10, 2006

 

Death just becomes

.
Today for the first time I had to interview someone that had just lost a family member before their time, or more accurately at a rather young age. Actually, I spoke with two people – the mother and the sister. It was by telephone, which spared this rookie from the fire outside the already simmering frying pan. Even so, a next time would be too soon, and I muttered a pathetic prayer to a higher power after I hung up.

I don’t know if it matters to tell you how this person died. It may have been a car crash, a disease, a roadside bomb or perhaps even lethal injection. The only clue I’ll offer is that for many in the family, a part of them probably expected his time would come before theirs.

The mother held up strong, only silent a couple of times - once through an awkward question that I tossed. She was fairly terse but forthright about her offspring, one of seven (like me, and her kid was only three years older than me) and the second to die in less than two years. The sister was a bit less so, almost breaking down at one point. She said something along the lines of how the death was a triumph of sorts but that she still wasn’t going to see any good in all of it.

The interview and subsequent filing of story were surreal at times, and has me thinking about how many times in the future I have to loathe in that I have not yet lost a human so very close. A favorite uncle of mine died tragically and I traveled far to be at his funeral, but that’s not the same at all as losing your child, your second child. Perhaps my deficit is causing me to get misty here in my middle age, for real.

I’m pretty in touch with my emotions inwardly, but sometimes I feel like I’ve been in a foreign country when it comes to “being there” for someone. I didn’t get a lot of guidance in that department growing up, despite (or in spite of) the religious upbringing often foisted on me. My folks were worn out by the time me and my sister (#7, born 7-7-67) got there. They had their hands full just being very good practical parents, and the old stern and stoic Viking blood ran too strong to much consider how a gosh darn kid felt.

We put mom in an elevated Alzheimer’s care wing a couple of weeks ago, kind of ahead of that schedule because she is still communicating lightly, though her doc noted some pronounced loss of balance which has her in a wheelchair most of the time now. I get a little twinge for her now and again but frankly I’m a bit more detached most of the time, thinking about how it sucks to get old like that for anybody.

I worry more for my dad, who likely has some time to go, and I hope he can break free from the guilt he has about my mom, that being simply from the fact that she was his caretaker for so long. Her disease has confused his sense of duty in that he doesn’t know what to do with his helpless wife. I think he just needs to be proud for what they had and not so glum that it hinders the rest of his happiness. He’s got a grandkid that he loves and another on the way, and I’d like to see some of his best years ahead of him.

Comments:
You are very lucky so far because no human you would hurt desperately over has left the world. To make it this long in your life that is a kind miracle.

I'm with you on not knowing how to be there for someone. Not knowing what to say, not know what to do. Me, I just organize, clean and feed. That seems to help and is always the best I can do. I'm sure you'll get practice some day soon. When Beelers has finally had enough and bumps me off, you can comfort him while he is playing the grieving widower.
 
Thanks, D. But that doesn't change my thinking on you being the spousicidal one of the pair ;)
 
D I am with you organize, clean, and feed. It is the only thing I know to do.
 
Times like these are when I lean on God to help me understand and show the way. Sometimes life throws things at you that you can't handle alone. May he be with you and your family during this very difficult time.
 
I wish you peace and strength, man. Great post.
 
Tim - Thanks for the "via con dios"

cheezy - ditto
 
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