In the age of COVID-19, our family's suffering and story is not unique; and the fact that it is not unique makes it worse.
A lot worse. I thank all who are part of this community that read these thoughts and emotions and cannot express the thanks in my soul for such people and the comfort their empathy and compassion provides in this dark day for me.
There was no bed-side vigil, or final goodbyes in person, or around her hospital bed at the end. A positive COVID-19 test last week was the last shoe to drop in a losing fight that had been growing increasingly grim all year, permanently sealing 2020 in my memory as the worst year of my nearly 50 on this Earth. Being in the hospital was rough enough, with quarantines and policies necessary to protect the workers and staff and patients from an out of control outbreak...I understand the needs and the reasons and the horror of the entire situation, but I am still living the uncertainty, the feelings of powerlessness and doubt and the fear of my father's pending test results. I have been grieving and dreading today for a long time; but in the end, when the finality hits your heart and rends you into an uncontrollable sob because of a random memory, there are no words or comfort that assuages the pain or dulls the loss in that moment. Grief comes to us all in unique forms and durations, but we are all eventually to share in this feeling. I am vacillating between Anger and Depression now. I've been sad for days in anticipation of what we knew was inevitable before Halloween. Its terrible arrival is no comfort or release, only waves of emotion and sadness.
COVID dominated the last 9 months for my family - from the tortured journey my parents embarked on to get home (outside of Chicago) from Florida at the height of the initial outbreak in late-March; to the fear of contraction during my mother's continuing treatments for returned (and aggressive) tumors in May, to the last month of hospitals, rehab attempts and transfers. Mom was afraid of contracting it in her immuno-compromised condition, dad was scared he would be a carrier and infect mom in her weakened condition, my siblings and myself and all of the grandchildren were forced to stay away and to only communicate from afar - via phones and facetime and coldly clinical technology. I will forever feel robbed, not cheated by death and its inevitability or hurtful finality...those are the same for us all, varying only in intensity and duration...but cheated by a virus and by a society torn apart for reasons that will never make sense to me, not now, not next year, not ever. Not when the virus is eventually subdued, not when life returns to 'normal' or whatever comes to pass for 'normal' in time.
I will feel cheated and robbed of those moments forever; and that pain will not subside, nor will the seared memory of the fact that it might have turned out differently. I will NOT soil this remembrance of my mother and her life and her love of family with the names of those I believe in my soul are at least partly responsible for the amplification of pain my family - and so many more families touched by COVID or simply denied closure and comfort by its spread and nefarious nature, are experiencing. That is a wound that will never heal; and a responsibility that can never be forgiven on this Earth. I will do my level best to struggle through this, and will lean on my family and support to dull its edge and get it put into a place that does not dominate my thoughts; but that day is not today and that desired outcome feels very distant in this moment. Its very raw, very acidic, very present today and will be for some time to come.
I am consciously refusing to give the hate and anger and rage bubbling in my psyche any traction right now. It is an exhausting effort because every fiber of me wants to scream and rage and howl at the moon and the wall and the TV that this is not fair, this is not just, this is not the way it was supposed to be. And even as this struggle burns on, in the quiet times between anger and upset, between sadness and helplessness...there are moments of peace, remembrance and the undying, eternal love that my mother had for her family, my dad, my sister and brother, myself and all of her 9 grandchildren.
Mom fought an incredibly brave fight with cancer for nearly 20 years. There was despair and near certainty in me 19 years ago when we first heard the diagnosis: Cancer. Aggressive, invasive tumors. Immediate surgery and treatments are necessary. At the time, we were fearful that what had happened to her mother (dying too young from cancer in her 40's) was about to happen once more, that a horrible familial history would have its rhyme and for no reason. Grandma was only with us for a very short time in my life, passing away while I was an infant, and succumbing to the same cancer that struck mom. But mom fought through it, she recovered once and then again, and again, and again, and again, and again...until the very end - fighting and enduring pain and discomfort in a body that could no longer contain or carry her spirit.
She went through too many rounds of remission and recurrence in all over the past 18 years, chemotherapy and surgeries, up until the end when she was part of an experimental treatment protocol from May to October of this year. Mom succumbed to cancer this morning, she had given everything possible and leaves us with a lifetime of memories and decades of borrowed time that I am forever thankful for... Mom has physically left this world, but the lessons and love that she leaves behind will remain and persist even beyond my own time here. There are a million stories of her racing in my head today, but they are for future memories and re-livings in better times, amidst friends and family and in better, brighter days.
It is fitting to me that today is overcast, and autumnal. The view out the window fits my emotions and envelopes them completely. My mother's fight and pain are over, and this will take a long time to lessen...but her life and the memories and unconditional love left with those who knew her best and closest will carry on and will light the way until we find a brighter day in the future.
Rest in peace mom, your fight gave us all so many gifts and irreplaceable memories that we are eternally grateful for.
I love you Bubba, and always will...
Can someone mock up what the State of the Union is going to look like next?
(Speaker Pelosi, VP Harris, President Biden)?
Suck it Tangerine Meance...YOU'RE FIRED!!!!
OF COURSE he went out and said that "voting" must stop...hey genius, the voting IS over...polls closed, period.
NOW they get counted until they are done asshole.
This is the same innumeracy that leads to morons parroting back the lines about COVID TESTING causing COVID CASES...
I want to see him swing...
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