Sunday, July 26, 2015

In Mourning...

The funeral is done and over with and now begins the mourning process until the healing comes to pass. Like I've said many times before, there was no sense in mourning my husband while he was alive. Now I mourn. Wednesday was the first day of the rest of my life as the window turned into a door that opened wide showing new possibilities.

I actually held myself together pretty well for the sake of my children and grandchildren. That was true until I saw my little sister walk up to me before the graveside service. She is my only blood link to my mother and I was a little, lost child searching for her mother's hug of comfort. She hugged me tight as I broke into gut wrenching sobs. I was totally spent afterwards. I sat like a cast away doll in front of the coffin while the minister performed the service. Silent tear rolling down my cheek. I fully expect to to have many such melt downs in the future.

The minister, our  retired pastor, drove five hours to be present and had a five hour drive back home afterwards. God Bless him for his service orientated heart. It was one of the requests my husband had made before he died. Our church has seen two other ministers come and go since this pastor retired, but he was the one my husband felt closest to and called friend.

After the funeral my old neighborhood, where my father still lives, prepared a feast. Smoked pork butts, mountains of potato salad, and other goodies. I didn't partake of the pork because of my allergies, but honestly I didn't think I could swallow a morsel with the huge lump I had in my throat. It did look yummy though. My sister in law and her husband said their goodbyes and made their way home to Pennsylvania, and our youngest daughter and family left for their Texas home. In a couple of weeks, they will be transferred yet again to Alabama. The third time in a year, but at least they'll be closer.

I'm worried about one of our cats, Patches. She is mourning our loss hard. Before my husband's death she was joined at the hip to him. We had to physically move her to do anything with him. Except to grab a few bites of foods and to do her business outside, she never left his side. It was during one of her nature calls sessions that he passed away. Then there were strangers in and out of the house (hospice and funeral home transport) so she didn't come back in. By the time she did, we had stripped the bed. She still hopped up on it and curled up on it. The next day during one of her nature calls, the guy came to take all the equipment out of my house. She came in and curled up in the dirty sheets refusing to budge. I did manage to remove the dirty sheets to wash them.

Now she just lays on his pillow in a chair. She is still eating and occasionally going outside, but when inside, she's on that pillow. I would take it away to wash it, but I don't have the heart to do it. I guess we are all mourning in our separate ways.

Wednesday was my first whole day with nobody here except the animals. By the way, our Guinea pig, Bella, died a few hours before my husband so there is one less animal to care for. I decided I wasn't going to sit around moping in the house. I went to my Brain Re-connect meeting. Later I went to my knitting group. Both I haven't been able to attend because of my husband. I was pretty well exhausted after I got home, I fixed myself some fish and chips with a green salad with lots of mushrooms. My husband was allergic to seafood and hated mushrooms. I enjoyed every bite. It was also the first time I cooked since my husband's death.

Thursday was a laid back day. I wrote this blog, watched some television, and started making myself a new sweater out of some merino/angora wool I've spun for this winter. I should have been going through the closets and removing all my husband's thing, but I'm not quite ready for that.  I also started going through my library. One of the girls in my knitting group offered to take them to the library for me. I thought it was a fine suggestion for all my books especially my signed and first editions. What they can't use they'll sell.

Friday, I did battle with Social Security. Remember, they said I wasn't disabled. The only way I could draw my husband's check, which is greater, is if I am ruled disabled for survivor's benefits. I still don't know the outcome. It will take two weeks to get certified copies of the death certificate, which I think is outrageous! Another 45 days for the insurance to pay out so I'm just twiddling my thumb stuck once again in limbo.

Meanwhile, I'm searching for property for my new homestead. I've got a line on a 31-acre piece of property and another 10-acre property in the area I want. I've got my contractor on standby just waiting on funds. I wish I didn't sell my property last year. I'm figuring the BIG move will take place in February 2016. I expect this house to sell very quickly. I'm in a very good neighborhood with a good school just up the road. Not many houses are for sale in this neighborhood. For an older, established subdivision, the property values are climbing instead of declining.

So for now it's READY, SET, WAIT!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I'm Free!!!

The past couple of days has been surreal. The phone calls, the people, the internet blew up, but besides all of that for me personally, I've been set free. I still can't wrap my brain cells around it yet.

Some say I'm in shock or denial, you know, a grief stage, but that's not it. I have prepared and even had multiple dry runs of grief over the last twelve years. I've got the rest of my life to work the grief process out. There hasn't been a day that I have focused solely on me in a very long time. This weekend I ate when I wanted, slept when I wanted, and was only forced with anything when I force myself. Like the picture I broke free of my chains.

Sounds kind of cold and heartless, doesn't it? But today was a prime example. I went to church services for the first time in three years. I didn't have to worry about who was going to sit with my husband so I could go. I didn't have to worry about anyone's drug schedule. I didn't have to be concerned with if the service ran over. It's been ten years since I've been able to do that.

It dawned on me today as I changed into my slacks and blouse without the continuous sound of the oxygen condenser. In fact, the medical supply company pulled all of it out of my house the day after my hubby died.(My request) I've got a living room back and unable to move any of the furniture back in there. The plan is to use it as a staging area for things I plan to eliminate from my house. A keep, sell, donate room. But I digress...

The thought struck me that with my hubby out of the house I could actually use chemicals to clean with. Whoa! I haven't used anything other than baking soda or dish soap to clean with in years! I can actually use chlorine bleach again!

Along those same lines, but more personal...I can wear perfume, scented deodorants, makeup (not that I wore much to begin with) again. I would have this morning, but I threw all mine away four years ago when my husband could not tolerate it. I can actually cook again. I mean in my crock pot or some long cooking recipes again.

I actually went shopping after church today. I went to two stores before I found something appropriate to wear. I didn't think that stretch shorts and tank tops would be a good thing to wear to my husband's viewing or funeral even though the heat index is over 100 degrees F most days. Most of my pre-stroke clothes are too complicated to get into. They have zippers and a multitude of snaps, hooks, and buttons. Now while with effort, I can do all of these things I prefer not to. I get too exhausted by dressing to do anything else. Remember the twelve spoons of energy I have for a day. The point was, I didn't have to hurry which drains my energy faster. Made even better by the fact the total bill was under $15.00 for two dresses!

So tomorrow I meet with my husband's sister before the viewing. She and her husband are flying in from Pittsburgh by way of Canada. Long story. His other brother and sisters can't make it. Attend the viewing from 6-8PM. Join my children and friends at Murphy's Tavern for my husband's "wake."Murphy's Tavern has been in this town for decades. Long before I became a Murphey, but I thought it was appropriate.Of course, my being a recovering alcoholic for the last thirty plus years, I'll be toasting with Coke while the others will have a shots of good, old Irish whiskey.

On Tuesday, I'll meet with my old pastor who is coming in from north Georgia to do the grave side service. It's Murphy's Law striking again that the sanctuary of the church is undergoing a total renovation. There are also thunderstorms predicted. I talked with the funeral home today to make sure they'll put up a big enough tent. The timing of my husband's death made it too late to be in Saturday's paper and this small town news paper doesn't print a Sunday edition so it will be in Monday morning's paper. Again, it's Murphy's Law. But the thunderstorm will be a blessing. It will hide my tears. I really don't care if anyone else attends.

I'm looking for the door to close before I can start anew. A new chapter in the book that is my life. Of course, I still have to deal with Social Security, my husband's pension plan, and the insurance company, but all of that can wait until Wednesday. The sun will continue to rise and set without my beloved. All I have to do is breathe in and out until the window God will open for me becomes a new door to my future.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Until We Meet Again

My beloved has gone on before me. He drew his last breath as I watched. His fight to remain on the Earthly plain is over. There is no more pain. No more struggling for each ounce of oxygen. He is with our Heavenly Father, his grandparents and parents whom he loved and was truly loved by.

A part of me wants to yell Hallelujah and be filled with joy. But my selfish side fights useless tears of grief from a heart torn out of my chest.

Yes, I'm the wife of an angel now. All there is left to do is heal until I can smile again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Craving Being Alone

This week has been really rough not only because my husband is actively dying. I'm SURROUNDED!

I've rarely had any alone time with just me and my husband. A revolving door has replaced my front door and the line of people trying to get in to be of help is growing larger by the hour. You've got to remember I'm basically a self sufficient person used to getting it done. I should be grateful.

Even saying that, I'm not opposed to help when needed. BUT STILL... family has been staying and feels I should not be left alone with my husband. They don't want me to be alone in case he dies as if I'd drop off the deep end when he dies and I can't handle it. They are hovering. A really morbid picture of buzzards circling the dying pops into my mind as I type this. But that is UNKIND. I know they are really doing it out of love and concern. They are also grieving.

My two fairly local (within 100 mile radius) daughters are taking shifts so I never am more than a couple hours alone with my beloved. Someone else is always here. I'm just complaining, I know I should be grateful for their attentiveness. I guess I've got to complain about something because this is a helpless situation and nobody can really do anything and they feel helpless too.

My beloved has been in a coma since yesterday. He speaks aloud in his state. I hear him talking to his mother. I am comforted by this because she is waiting for him. The death rattle type breathing and for the last twelve hours, the smell of death fills my nostrils. All I want to do is curl up on the bed with him as we did in happier times.

What is he waiting on? Nobody at hospice can understand, but my daughters and I know. He's waiting on his baby girl. She'll be home with our newest grandson in about three hours. I expect him to pass on quietly after that.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Funeral Director

Yesterday, I stopped in at the funeral home to sign the paperwork. Can anything be so morbid? Or a slap in the face reality check?  I was picking out his casket. Somethings are just easier to do when not blinded by grief...this is one of them. The good Lord knows I've been in that spot too many times.

I've known this funeral director for over 30 years (she's only 47). She went to high school with one of my younger, adopted sisters. Her daddy buried my mother before he got political ambitions. Yep, it's a family run business rather than a corporation run funeral home and it's a dying breed if you'll excuse the pun. I'll deal with independents rather than corporations any day. They are a tad bit more expensive, but the add-on value is fabulous. They have more wiggle room and better customer service. We've used them eight times already for family and more than I can count for friends. I just wish I didn't only see her or her sister when there is a need for their service.
The casket

I knew my hubby wanted a cheap casket. He wants to leave me with as much money as possible from the insurance. Of course.I have other sources of money too upon his death, but I won't go into that here. I asked the funeral director to show me the cheapest besides the pauper's funeral one ( a plain, black, plastic box). She showed it to me, and then I asked to see the next higher one in price. It just so happened to be in my husband's favorite color, blue. It has silver handles and fittings which made for a nice contrast. It was like a gift that was perfect. The difference in price was $300 so I splurged.

The mahogany one in the background has a price of over four grand. While gorgeous, I couldn't justify the price to bury his empty shell. I mean everything I love about my husband will not be in his body anymore.

I've seen television commercial about how expensive burials are, but the final tally shocked me a bit. By the time you add in the flowers, minister fees, organist fees, head stone, etc... my husband's burial will set me back $10 grand. And, I was being modest and thrifty! Put in perspective, that's 1/8 the original cost of my house. I'm not complaining, mind you, but still. It's a one shot deal.

The burial plot was free, thank goodness, because we are members of the church. We had chosen ours to be by his parents at the time of their death. The only cost involved is a maintenance fund but that's for the entire cemetery. This fund is huge because some of the graves go back to the 1700's. As a historical landmark, the church is also entitled to State funds to preserve it. But it is private and open to church members only. I decided long ago that I wanted to be cremated so to save expenses when I die, but my husband has a different mindset. Lord knows, I don't want to be haunted by his angry spirit after he's gone. So the funeral is set just waiting on him to draw his last breath.

Each time he wakes up, I'm greeted with a cheery, "Hi ba-by! I love you!" It doesn't matter if it was five minutes earlier and he'd drifted off to sleep in between, or hours. Although his speech is slurred and marked with aphasia, I understand every word. He has such a peaceful smile on his face once the pain is deadened. I almost envy him. It's taking almost 70-80 mgs of morphine every couple of hours to maintain that serenity now. Angels are whispering in his ear. One of these times, he will go with them. But everything that can be prepared in advance is finally finished. Now I just answer him back with my own "Hi! I love you" and meaning every word.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How Am I Holding Up.

This post is to answer all the inquiries, emails, and comments I've received in the past twenty-four hours.Well yesterday was horrible because I knew I had to deal with my family and his, and give them all the punch to the gut like I had received. But that's done now. God's blessings on each and everyone of y'all.

WARNING: This post contains heavy Christian material. But me, as a minister and a faith driven individual, I had to share it.If you take offense to it. Please stop reading now. It may have errors in it because I'm just putting it out there to all of you. Hey, I'm brain damaged and give me a break. So if you are a grammar Nazi, please stop reading.

It was supposed to be a quiet day with only the aide coming in. It was time for me to decompress some and come to terms. Even though my darling hubby has had a terminal diagnosis and been actively dying for the past year, there is nothing like someone telling you the time is nigh and seeing the proof. I thought I was prepared.  Hadn't I been practicing for his death with dry runs for 13 years? Truth is you are never prepared.

Today started with waking my beloved for his dose of Ativan. I rubbed his arm to wake him gently. I felt his hands creep up to mine, hold it, and then he drew it to his lips with a smile on his face. I asked him what his pain level was and his eyes popped open wide...ZERO! Wow! This was amazing because his normal pain level for years has been a 6+. I considered not giving him his dose of morphine until he yelped in pain when he tried to reposition himself in the bed. He drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face.

My oldest daughter made the drive down from Savannah and surprised us with a visit. She told me to leave him to her and just do what I wanted to do. I got a break! I actually just ran to the drug store and went to pick up a few things at the grocery store. As I was leaving the store, the pressure sore that had been brewing on the bottom of my foot where my brace rubs ruptured. I hobbled out of the store, came home and collapsed in a chair.

Once I had the lidocaine/antibiotic cream on it and the padded bandage placed I knew my time was up for freedom. I hobbled to a chair and plopped down in misery with my brace off. That was beginning of Murphy's Law hitting overdrive.

His aide called and said she'd be here for my husband's care in 45 minutes.

My daughter, with her boot on for severely sprained ankle ligaments, was sweeping the floor for me. One less job I have to do.

MOM's Meals (Meals on Wheels for the Elderly) delivered my husband's food for the next two weeks. My daughter, didn't know what to do with the freezer case, so I was up tending to that. 

FedEx delivered his new prescriptions from hospice and they needed my signature because of the morphine. I had just sat down and taken my brace off. 

Then it was UPS making a delivery. ARGH! All the up and down, brace on and off was really aggravating my foot. I'm barely able to bear weight on it to walk.

Are You Dizzy Yet?
My daughter had to drive back to Savannah before the afternoon thundershowers deluged the coast, plus she has kids of her own to care for. I thanked her for her help. So much for sleeping when my hubby slept like the nurse instructed me to do yesterday. In fact my youngest daughter and I had joked the night before that we'd both be exhausted from all the diaper changes and feedings or in my husband's case medications.

A light knock at the door had me up again. I had forgotten the hospice social worker had asked to visit us today because of Terry's new status as "dying process." But I was glad to see her. We share a kindred bond through Christ and the Holy Spirit. I needed answers to questions I was asking God and I just wasn't hearing Him. Together we have an amplified radar. It helps me sort through the noise.

I told her I was tired of having all these experiences in life just to be able to relate one on one to others to bring them into Christ's flock. I've been doing it for 45 years now. I know my strength  comes from the Lord.  I mean but really there are tons of people and ministers who had not personally dealt with half as much stuff. As such, the world will try to break that connection. I wasn't faltering in faith but sometimes you just want to know why.

She said I was a martyr for Christ to show people hope after the world stuff strikes. To be the light as a way out of despair and into Glory.

I fired back with the first thing that would come out of everyone's mouth..."Why me? I never asked or wanted to be a marytr."  Then it hit me. My prayers I end with "Thy Will be done." That's acceptance. I'm agreeing to it. God will use anything at His disposal to to gain souls and bring comfort to His flock. Yep, even me. Hand chosen for His Work. This is not said with any sense of pride.Would any sane person take ownership over being a martyr??  It just is what it is. It never dawned on me that this was what was happening.

But that was only the first question. The second was why did God tell me to marry my husband when
I had specifically asked for a man of God? My husband at the time wasn't a Spirit filled Christian, but God promised me that he would be. Why when God finally fulfilled His promise to me did He want to take Him home? The answer came to me as I was ranting and crying to this social worker. The voice said, "You are like a mother to a child. You nurture them. You love them with all of your heart as they grow. Eventually, all children become adults and have to spread there wings. This is what your husband is doing. He's coming to Heaven to spread his wings."

All this was verbalized aphasically at times and yet, when the revelation dawned on me, there was such a feeling of peace and comfort enveloping me. My anger at feeling cheated and used badly dissipated. The tears stopped and I blew my nose.

I know there will be more tears in the coming days, but for now I'm basking in my Father's love. I know I will not have to walk these steps alone...for He is with me.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Comfort Only Time

The hospice nurse just left. It's comfort only time. Just keep him sedated. I don't have to worry about food or fluids. This stage could last a day or a month. My Irish leprechaun just wants to keep on fighting to be here though. I don't know whether to sigh with relief or cry. I always hate this stage. 

I've been here too many times with too many loved ones.

Yesterday, thirty-six years ago, my mother hit this stage. I've got an odd sense of dejavu and am struck by the irony of the timing.