You know that saying that goes "you never know how strong you can be until you have no other choice"? Something like that anyway. That's been this week.
I had been so terrified of losing my father for years, yet the Earth didn't stop spinning. I have a hole in my heart that will ache forever, I'm sure, but he lived literally years with near constant chest pain, so I can live with this.
Wednesday night was the visitation at the funeral home. My older sister and her husband and my nephew arrived early in the morning from North Carolina. We spent the morning at my younger sister's house. I dreaded the visitation. I knew that would be the moment it became really real. I don't like seeing the body and just couldn't imagine seeing my Daddy like that.
But I had to. We actually were the first ones there, which meant I could do it alone. Then my girls wanted to see. They have been so confused by everything. They remember my Grandpa passing away, but they didn't get to see him often, so it wasn't as real as this. And they didn't go to the memorial service.
I did look at him. I even touched him. I had never touched a dead body before, but I just wanted to rub his bristley balding head again. I could never do that with anyone else, but it's different when it's someone close. You'll do anything for one more touch.
The hardest part was when my Mom arrived and seeing her. My heart is so broken for her. They were married almost 48 years. They married 2 days after she graduated high school. She's never been alone before.
After the visitation and dinner with family, my sister took her home with her. My sister and I spent a while texting back and forth talking about Mom staying with her for a while before we find her a place closer to us (she's about an hour away now and we are adamant she has to be closer for several reasons).
My mother was so wiped out by the day that she couldn't even get up to turn out the light to go to bed. But just out of the blue, she got a drastic case of diarrhea and fell trying to get to the bathroom. My sister ended up calling 911.
My older sister and I spent the night in the ER waiting room while my little sister was with my Mom inside. They determined she had some sort of infection from her blood work, and she was so fatigued that they admitted her to the ICU. I left the hospital about 4am, my little sister about 5:30am.
My mother was not able to go to my father's funeral.
We tried. She wasn't in any shape to leave the hospital. We brainstormed ways to allow her to see it televised somehow, but she couldn't stay awake. It broke or hearts all over again, knowing she couldn't go, but there just was no way.
The funeral was nice. He had a military burial, which was just perfect. Since my Mom wasn't there, we asked that they present the flag to my father's last remaining sibling, my uncle. He did give us the flag for Momma afterwards. My cousin recorded it so we can show my Mom when she's ready.
My Mom really wouldn't wake up all day Wednesday. We asked the nurses why and there really was no medical reason. Yes, she's sick, but it was alarming. I think it was the only way she could cope, to be honest.
Friday I spent the day with my sisters on a road trip to my parents' apartment to get anything valuable out (long story I'll talk about another time ). I searched for things with my father's handwriting. Looked at his blood sugar log just to study how he wrote his numbers. My sister wished one of us had a saved voice mail so we could hear his voice again. It was bitter sweet, being there without my parents. I know we'll never all be there again together.
Friday my Mom was more alert. Easy to wake, talking to us. We caught glimpses of her personality through the sleepy haze. We were so relieved. Honestly, we were afraid she'd die. Those stories about a husband and wife dying within a short time of each other because they couldn't bear to be apart sound romantic until you're faced with it as their children.
I went to see her first thing Saturday and was crushed to discover her back in the state she was in Thursday. Difficult to awaken. She was mumbling nonsense about trunks and people we didn't know. My older sister suspected when she was there that she was talking to Daddy, asking about his sisters, who are both deceased. It was scary. I made a second trip to see her that evening and she was complaining about the hallucinations, and grabbed me, asking me not to go. I stayed until my sister could come, and then she stayed until visiting hours were over. She slept better with us there, so we agreed to make sure she wasn't alone for long today.
Today she's better again. She asked for breakfast and got annoyed when I tried to help her too much. She's still sleeping most of the time, but she's easily awakened and lucid. She asked me what day it was, how long she'd been in the hospital. She told me the hallucinations were gone and she'd stopped dreaming about Daddy. That part made her sad, I think she enjoyed that part.
Crystal finally told me that she thought Mom had been talking to Daddy in the ER Wednesday night, that it was like they were either arguing over him dying or over her staying. I might sound crazy, but I don't really think it was a dream. I believe he really was there, still trying to take care of her and comfort her through the hard parts. I think he'll always be there, holding her hand. I think she wanted to go with him and he convinced her to stay.
They've determined that what they thought was a minor UTI at first was more than minor and she became septic, which happened about a month ago as well. I'm concerned that both tines she got very sick very quickly, so we'll have to talk to the doctors to figure out how to deal with that. They hope to get her well enough to be in a regular room in the next day or so, then we will figure out where to go from there. We're beginning to question if independent living would be a good idea, but we'll cross that bridge after getting her over this one.
It's been tough, but my husband and my sister's husband have been Godsends. My brother-in-law has volunteered to babysit several times so I can go to the hospital. Bill has taken all the time he could off of work, and he rarely takes time off for anything. They've definitely been our rocks.
God willing, this week will be a healing week.