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Apr. 3rd, 2013

Trigger heads-up: This post contains information relating the death of Dev's dad, including mention of the physical process and emotional reactions.  It will make most people uncomfortable, and will likely disturb others.

Dev hit a bit of a wall this week.  I was pretty sure it was coming.  April and May of last year were punctuated with short and hard crying jags, lack of interest in most things, short tempers, and visits to the cemetary.

April and May, two years ago, was filled with taking his dad back and forth to the hospital.  There were a couple days spent in the emergency room and a dozen in ICU.  Dev wasn't present for the worst of the ICU days--the stomach pumping, the painful scopes, the high ammonia levels that so fogged the brain that his dad didn't know where he was or who I was--but he visited on the "better" ICU days.  And, of course, he knew what was going on.  The last two weeks of his dad's life were actually smoother because we'd learned how to manage sudden bleeds at home* and Dev had time to sit and talk with his dad.

The decision to use in-home hospice care support was made within a couple weeks of the diagnosis.  Dev's dad didn't want to die in a hospital, and didn't want to die alone.  We all talked with the hospice team about what to expect.  Dev's dad and I decided Dev was old enough to be involved, and would be scarred more by being excluded than included.

But the night his dad died wasn't easy.  Quick, yes, and that's mostly what I told people who asked because no one really wanted to hear the whole story, and I wasn't in a space to tell it.  But it involved a collapse in the bathroom, uncontrolled bleeding, and useless efforts of two very kind paramedics who quickly figured out they'd been called by family members in a moment of panic and were not really expected to revive the man who'd truly died moments before they walked in the door.

Even now, I look at the word "quick" and think it's true; fifteen minutes passed between the time I heard Dev's dad collapse and when I felt him sink into my arms.  But it was longest fucking fifteen minutes I can imagine, and Dev was right there the entire time, with all the blood and shit and everything.

Was it "right" to have Dev there?  Yes.  I believe that without a doubt.  He wanted to be there for his father, and preventing him from entering the room would have given him a lifetime of wishing he could tell his father, one last time, how much he loved him.  The other side of that, though, is the harsher memories of those fifteen minutes.

Dev and I both had nightmares.  Over the last couple years, there are many nights he'd knocked on my bedroom door at three or four in the morning just to get a hug or say he'd had a bad (but undescribed) bad dream.  But he didn't want to talk about any of the specifics of his dreams or his memories.  That was off limits.  I didn't push.  IMO, the only thing as bad as refusing to let someone express their fears and pain is forcing someone to do so.

But in the past couple days, he brought it up in roundabout ways.  He told me thought he was "tough" enough to experience it, accept it, and move forward as he imagined his father would want.  We talked about how being "tough" just means you can face the crisis.  Getting through the crisis without emotional reactions, though, is psychotic.  So Dev began talking in bits and pieces--not much and not long, but enough to let him relax in his own skin a little bit better.

This was going to be my weekend spent with That Man**, but there is no way I'm leaving my child behind right now, when he's both willing and able to process to most difficult experience of his life.  Dev and I will spend tomorrow taking care of a few obligations, then we're taking a couple days off from everything to drive around, process stuff, talk about anything, and hurt and heal.

Tonight, while I was teaching karate, Dev completely reconfigured his room so he could fit his dad's old office chair in the corner.  I see this as a good thing, a positive thing, a comfortable inclusion.

I don't have a neat and tidy conclusion to this post.  I share these posts on grief and such just in case there is someone out there who might need to read the experience of another.  My fear with putting these posts up is that it'll sound as if I'm wallowing or over-sharing.  So if there is someone out there who has questions about ANYTHING here, or decisions they might be facing, comment here or send me an email.

*Damage to the liver, which liver cancer most certainly is, inhibits the body's ability to create clotting factors.  Once, a small bleed in the esophagus culminated in a heart attack followed by thirty-six hours of severe dementia-like behavior bad enough to require restraints.  We got very good at identifying early problems and stopping the downward spiral.

**That Man totally understood my reasons for cancelling--an indication I'm dating the right kind of person, truly.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 4th, 2013 03:16 am (UTC)
::HUGS:: to both you and to Dev.
Apr. 4th, 2013 08:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Much appreciated.
Apr. 4th, 2013 02:14 pm (UTC)
The Man shows more signs of class. This is so tough for you both. Mega-hugs.
Apr. 4th, 2013 08:04 pm (UTC)
That Man is a class act indeed.

Thank you for the hugs. I've decided to take Dev away for a couple days--a change of scenery, a change of pace.
Apr. 5th, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
Tonight, while I was teaching karate, Dev completely reconfigured his room so he could fit his dad's old office chair in the corner. ...

I don't have a neat and tidy conclusion to this post.

I dunno, I think that makes for a fine conclusion.

*hug* as appropriate, and best of luck to Dev. (And to you, of course.)
Apr. 7th, 2013 01:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, dear. Dev is doing much better after our weekend away. A change of scenery almost always helps, in no small part because the everyday clutter quits taking up headspace long enough to let other things seep up.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Blair MacGregor

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