I’m not sure that I’ve begun to grieve yet, or have I grieved for so many years that now, I’m able to manage this process feeling balanced and present, without being engulfed in sadness?
Is that what we do?
Manage our feelings?
Sounds so text book!
And of course, I’ve managed my feelings for many years, until it got to a point where managing wasn’t an option.
This writing process shall remain my saviour and isn’t it strange how we are able to share with complete strangers the essence of our soul. The high’s and low’s, the authentically raw material of our mind. The innocence, betrayal, the love and honor, our most intimate misgivings.
I am grateful for this space and I am grateful to you, for playing such a fundamental role throughout my healing journey, even though you may not be aware of that fact. I write, people read and to me, someone is listening, someone can hear me.
Everyday there is something new to wade through and I’m doing okay even though I can’t quite get my head around Bro not being here. It seems that maybe he’s just gone away for a while. His coats still hang in the hallway and his glasses sit on the side table, ready for him to read the weekly paper. His chair is softly indented and still raised up slightly, so that it’s easier for him to stand when ready. Shoes are sat in the exact same position of when he wore them last and pajamas folded neatly on his bed. The old crocheted blanket lays unused, an extra to keep him warm at night and Mum placed his clean and washed vest in the middle of the blanket, just in case he needs it.
I wonder if he has actually gone anywhere, I wonder what the hell has just happened, I wonder if I’ll wake up in a minute and it’s all been a terrible dream.
Aah… there they are, my tears of release, a little at a time. I wondered where they were too and now are falling freely and uninterrupted.
Oh Bro, if only you knew how much you were loved-are loved and the empty space you have left behind is huge.
Your presence is missed greatly.
You may never really know how much you love someone until they aren’t here anymore and the sheer impact that they have on your life.
I truly know that now Bro and I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you enough when you were here.
I’m sorry that I wasted time feeling hurt, angry and so damn stubborn.
Stubborn-and suitably matched.
Checkmate-only we both lose.
My advice to you all is this;
don’t leave things until it’s too late.
Don’t allow grievances to go on for a long period of time.
Don’t waste time with insignificance.
Try your very best to come from a loving place.
See things for what they are, not worse than they are.
We don’t often talk about the beauty of death because pain and finality takes precedence.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve felt drained, emotionally and physically. Each day rolls into the next bringing fourth such an array of difficult emotions and to lose someone that I love dearly and in such a short amount of time is just devastating.
No time at all.
Making every day count is essential; oh… how I get that now! Experience all that you want to experience and truly know the absolute joy of being alive.
The hospice nurse explained that we would notice changes in his breathing, reminding us that he could hear us and that it was all okay, as she softly touched Bro on his shoulder.
It was okay-dying was okay-do not be afraid.
We asked if more morphine could be administered due to him appearing agitated as one arm would lift and drop to the bed, then the other, he would moan and slightly move his head. This happened several times.
Was he trying to communicate with us?
What did I miss?
Why didn’t I know and understand more after everything I had learn’t and read over the years?
Realizing now, the level of high expectation I always put on myself.
My mind constantly chatted to him, telling him things that I felt, he needed to hear and things that needed to be said between us.
A mutual forgiveness!
It was surreal, like a movie scene playing with us in it, but not of it-if that makes any sense?
Nothing seems to make much sense right now as the words fall from my mind and my fingers tap each letter on the keyboard.
I’ll just keep typing.
We wanted him to feel calm, pain free and safe.
Can you even feel safe when you are dying?
Was God with him?
At some point Mum laid his over sized silver and blue crucifix under his right hand and the Reverend said that God was near by, calling him home.
Morphine was given three times throughout the night, which I think I instigated, by sharing my thoughts with the others. I’m proud of the way we remained courteous to each other with regards to Bro on those occasions when making the decision to call the administering nurse, back into the room.
It was a time to tune into my internal all knowing, in order to do the right thing for Bro and I guess it’s something that could weigh heavily on my mind, if I allowed it to.
Mum broke down at one point and felt like she was murdering him by asking them to feed the driver with a stronger dosage and I had to reassure her several times that it was the best thing for him in order for to feel comfortable.
Just heartbreaking for her and for us too-poor Bro bless him, he probably wanted us all to bugger off and stop being so dam miserable.
His son, slept in the recliner for a couple of hours in the early part of the morning and that’s something I struggled with! Wouldn’t you want to spend every lasting second with the man that raised you knowing you’d never see him again?
My step father for 27 years.
A judgement on my behalf I know and I choose to keep that judgement right now as for the past two years, his son had written him out of his life and wasn’t interested at all.
The judgement will pass in time.
I knew that I couldn’t close my eyes and wouldn’t, no matter how exhausted I was. I had to honor his last breath and acknowledge this man as he returned to a place where he believed was home.
A return to love.
The nurse had told us that once we hear the rasp in his breathing, then it wouldn’t be long before he would pass and waiting for that rasp, was both unbearable and necessary.
How I wanted to hear that rasp, so he would finally be free and selfishly, the waiting was taking it’s toll.
Bro was diagnosed on the 29th of July, without his family to support him, sunk into a lonely depression.
He was so very afraid and COVID rules mean’t no visiting.
Day by day, Bro struggled to pay for the hospital television and phone system with his debit card with not being tech savvy at all. His calls were in short bursts with lots of tears, cutting off quickly mid sentence.
We couldn’t make head nor tail of what he was trying to say but tried hard to reassure him. It was an impossible situation which was horrendous for him and for us too, hearing his sobs, pleading with us to get him out of there.
I called his hospital bed phone daily-over and over again and couldn’t get through.
I called the ward several times and no one picked up the phone.
I called the elderly social work team several times desperate for help, complaining about the lack of communication. The first social worker who mum and I met, was only on call that weekend and when I tried to get through to her, she had gone on leave. The new one, promised she would call me back that afternoon after a meeting with regards to Bro.
She didn’t call back.
And so on… there’s so much more to say about the lack of, but right now in this very moment, there isn’t much point so maybe another day and another post.
The early morning came and I could see the distinct changes in his face and to me, he looked beautiful almost angelic. His skin was so very soft to touch as I gently stroked his hair across his forehead in the same way that I’d done for hours on and off.
As he breathed, his cheeks sucked in almost like a fish in the open air and it wasn’t labored like I imagined, it was gentle and quiet-just a small rasping sound, seemingly like he would stop at any moment and then another breath would come.
His son and wife stood up now and came close to the left of Bro, as if ready for a standing ovation, without the clapping part of course and Mum sat quietly weeping, holding his hand on his right side. My position was near his head side and his face was tilted our way. I felt it important to give his son the choice of changing places with me.
He declined, for which I am so grateful.
I kissed Bro’s hand and told him that the sun was shining, that I would meet him in his beautiful garden.
I told him that that he was free now, no more pain, struggle, crutches, hospitals nothing-just a free man to feel joy like he had never felt before.
I told him Banjo, his much loved dog who passed some time ago, was waiting for him and oh… what an amazing time they were going to have together.
I spoke to him in my mind and asked him;
“What are you holding on for Bro?”
and then it just came to me, as clear as day-as if he answered straight away!
“He’s telling me it’s too noisy!”
Bro had complained several times about the noise on the hospital ward and his inability to sleep.
The radio had been playing since he arrived at the hospice and the nurses must have put it on because it wasn’t something we had requested or did ourselves. It played quietly in the background. The oxygen machine was loud and as the nurse had said earlier in the evening that it wasn’t really helping him at this stage, so we agreed to have it turned off.
The space became instantly quiet and so very peaceful.
We opened the doors and with the early morning sun, Bro took his last breath.
It was five minutes from turning all the noise off.
There were no tears for me just a feeling of absolute peace and such a deep connection to his spirit. Bro taught me so many lessons right up until he passed and left his body. And that is exactly what he did… he left his heavy weighted, shell of a body behind and walked free. This has been my belief for as long as I was able to understand about life and death but now I have seen it with my own eyes and finally, I understand the lesson in all it’s entirety-it really is just a body and his body was an extremely painful body, a vessel to experience all the things that Bro needed to experience on his journey of life.
It happened the way it was always going to happen, the way it was mean’t to be.
We experienced forgiveness together at the highest level on both our parts.
We experienced love and a profound connection.
We experienced healing together and for that I will always be grateful.
Death can be beautiful if we allow the fear to fall away and remain present to all that is happening around us.
Death can be beautiful and allow you to see things more clearly when they seem so confusing.
Together, they have shared 27 years of living in sin (as my mother would say) and if I am to remain authentic and honest, for the past few months, I have just about tolerated him.
The most frustrating, stubborn and controlling man I know and also a man that has been in my life longer than my father was and who gave me so much love.
His words often do so much damage to my mother’s mental health well being and then in turn, her acid tongue would throw as much back and in more recent months, the idea of moving abroad felt like an escape from their unhealthy yet somehow committed relationship.
For months, I’ve been plagued with my own guilt at the thought of leaving them both.
My brother’s have never really liked him that much and in some way, he is just another version of my father only his addiction was food not drugs.
A massive man who weighed 28 stone at one point.
As a child, he was born into poverty, the kind of life where beds were shared with siblings, food was not plentiful and shoes were full of holes. His mother was abusive and life was extremely hard.
She ran off with another man without saying any goodbyes.
The youngest of four and a promising footballer who played for the England boys team as a teenager, his dream was to make it at a professional level. At age 19, whilst working a summer job with his brother on a farm, there was a terrible accident and he was trapped under a tractor.
The accident robbed him of his young healthy body and in turn gave him a life full of immense pain and disability and food filled the hole of where his dream once lived, self hatred ravaged his mind and he was told that he would never walk again.
He defied the odds, even walking into the ambulance two weeks ago, at the age of 77 with a semi smile on his face and telling both Mum and I that he loved us.
I now understand how desperately he tried to be a father figure to me and I wouldn’t let him in, I couldn’t-there was too much about his nature that I despised at times and on the other side of that, I have always known how much he loves me and has always been there when I needed help along the way, telling me often;
“It will come right in the end.”
Funny how you forget those times when you are so wrapped up in anger.
I hope he will forgive me…
Why did I leave it too long to tell him that I am so grateful for everything and that I am so sorry for the times that I chose not to forgive him-for the times that I too, was so incredibly stubborn.
After much back and fourth with his medical team, ranting and raving at the lack of communication, lack of support and lack of updated information, I finally arrived at his hospital bedside unannounced.
What I found was heartbreaking.
He was incoherent, rambling, soiled, unable to reach his drink as his table was too far away. His mouth was dry and sticky and he was semi lying on his back which is impossible for the pain in his spine. I tried to talk to someone but they were all too busy. I desperately needed answers and eventually the nurse who has been ‘dealing’ with him, arrived at his bedside and still, unable to answer my questions, told me that I needed to talk to the doctor.
After 50 minutes of waiting and nursing him myself, the Doctor finally came and told me that his kidneys are now failing too.
Within two weeks, I am now watching a yellow man die in front of me. His body is struggling with a large mass on his liver which has spread to his lungs. The fluid which is bypassing his damaged kidneys and liver, is now filling up his stomach.
He is so weak and sick.
I literally can not bare him being so frightened and disorientated.
He pleads with me to take him home over and over again.
The pain from all directions is absolutely suffocating.
I pray that he will fall asleep and gently pass and that his suffering will end.
Life throws us many curve balls and although the tears still flow momentarily, I feel incredibly peaceful.
For that I am grateful.
In a seemingly overwhelming situation, I am positioned in the middle and need to navigate and direct my family network with trusting the process and allowing, rather than resisting.
Over the last few days and having an intense internal dialogue, I am reminded of the sheer depth of possibilities that can happen when you ask for something that you so desperately need.
Like asking to be relieved of terrible physical and emotional pain.
The pain that you have endured for so long.
Ask and you shall receive.
I feel like I have come full circle and it’s quite profound!
I prayed a very long time ago and what a powerful prayer that was.
My prayer was answered.
Now I shall pray to lessen the fear of what lies ahead because fear is all consuming.
Pain, has been the message, a loud and powerful message.
The message was ignored and the pain got worse.
Pain is an indicator of something that needs to be addressed and to the extent you don’t pay attention, you pay with pain so never ignore pain, emotional or physical-it’s trying to tell you something important.
We can not escape what is mean’t for us on this journey called life and I believe that wherever you are right now, you are exactly where you are mean’t to be.
So take this precious moment, whatever the challenge may be and embrace it with the love and compassion that it deserves and hold on tight to the knowledge that you will make it through, whatever that means for you.
We too will make it through, whatever that means for us.
There is another side to it all, somewhere out there, somewhere different, some place beautiful, something new.
There is always a way through and it may not look like what you hoped it would be and know that there is something greater waiting for you.
Years ago I interviewed a grieving Mother whose adult son had died after a long illness. You could have heard a pin drop in the studio when she so beautifully told the story of their final moment together. The mother had climbed into bed with her son. She could barely hear him, but her head was on his chest. As he took his last breath, he whispered,” Oh Mom, it is all so simple. It’s so simple Mom.” He then closed his eyes and died.
I got chills when I heard that. I realised then, just as it resonates with me now: We allow life to get so complicated-when it’s really so very simple.
From this day forward I resolved to continuously ask myself, How am I making things more difficult than they need to be?
Your answer to that same question is the next step in your path. It’s that simple. Imagine what lies just around the bend.-
The Path Made Clear – Oprah Winfrey
Such a profound and beautiful message for us all.
We allow life to get so complicated at times when really, we are just a moment away from a completely different experience.
Recently, I have taken a much needed break from social media and thought that I would concentrate on my writing and sadly, that didn’t work out as I planned.
I look at the screen and all the wonderful things that are racing around in my mind, seem unable to work their way through to my fingers and on to the page.
It’s happened before and no doubt, it will happen again.
So today I am just touching base with myself, my screen and of course anyone out there who may be reading my blog.
There is a new and overwhelming challenge that my family and I must face together. My hope is that I can use this space to let out the feelings that need to be contained right now, in order to keep a clear head… just for a while.
We are born and at some stage we die and it’s a journey that we all will take.
I wonder now, how difficult the final stage must be or can we allow ourselves to gently relax, just for a while… into the whole magnificent process of a Soul returning home.
Life can be beautifully simple.
I choose to see the beauty within a seemingly dark situation and will honor the lesson for me which I now know is, forgiveness.
Forgiveness on so many levels.
Keep it simple and don’t leave anything unsaid because when we share our truths, healing can happen in such a profound way.