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Showing results for tags 'loss'.
Found 6 results
Five Days and More Days on Top
Drew Payne posted a blog entry in Words, Words and WordsI was twelve years old when my grandmother died. My father woke me up, early that morning, and told me, “Your Gran has gone to Heaven.” I was confused, no one had told me she was that ill, they certainly hadn’t told me she was dying. I thought that her decreasing health and physical ability was because of her great age, she had seemed so impossibly old to me back then. It was much later that I’d find out what had happened to her. She was the only grandparent I knew. My father’s parents had died before I was born and so had my mother’s father. My gran, my mother’s mother, was the only grandparent I had. Other children at school had both sets of grandparents and would talk about them endlessly. I just had Gran, a woman who seemed so much older than the grandparents of those other kids at school. She was an old, small, white-haired woman, like a character out of children’s literature. When I was nine, Gran came to live with us for a while. With hindsight I realise she wasn’t well, but no one told me at the time. She would sit in the armchair next to the fire in our sitting room and tell me stories of her life. Stories of her growing up in Scotland, her time “in service” in London, running a household in wartime Kendal, Cumbria. She was full of stories and I loved listening to them. During that time, she was admitted to one of Liverpool’s hospitals. We visited her one Sunday afternoon to find that she had been moved off the main ward and was now in a side room. She told us that the ward’s sister had moved her into there when it became empty. At the time it just seemed like a nice gesture; now I know differently. As a senior staff nurse, working on a busy hospital ward, I’d move a very ill or terminally ill patient into a side room to give them some quiet and privacy. From our home she moved into a newly built bungalow, near to my Uncle Lance and Aunty Sheila, her youngest son and his wife, in the suburbs of Derby. We would drive over there every Saturday to visit her. The bungalow was small, made from cream-colored concrete and perched on the side of a shallow hill. Being a new build, the garden was untended and raw. It was divided into two by a stone-paved path that cut through its middle. On either side of it were two strips of open soil, which were made up of large clumps of red/brown clay, many of them as large rocks. I wasn’t allowed onto this clay soil because it would stain anything that touched it bright red. Our dog, Candy, a little terrier with a love of new and different smells, wouldn’t venture onto this clay garden either, yet normally she’d spend as much time as possible sniffing out the smells on a new patch of ground. My gran had loved gardening, she and my mother would spend afternoon after afternoon tending to our garden. While she lived at that bungalow, the garden was left untended, just two open strips of clay where even weeds didn’t seem to want to grow. It was in this bungalow that she died. I wasn’t allowed to go to her funeral, my mother believed funerals were no place for children, so I was left at home in the care of a neighbour. This, along with not being told she was ill, made accepting my gran’s death so difficult for me. It wasn’t as if she was dead, never to be seen again, she just wasn’t there, missing from my life. It wasn’t until I was into my teens that I was able to make the connection that she was actually dead. For my mother, though, the loss of her own mother was something that she found so difficult to accept, it was so hard on her. She spent weeks and weeks off work after Gran’s funeral. I would often find her, alone in the house, silently crying to herself. I now realise her grief had become depression, but back then I was not a perceptive child. It was only as an adult, after I had trained as a nurse, that I began to find out what had happened with my gran; it was only then that my mother told me what she had found out after Gran’s death. My grandmother had stomach cancer. When she had been admitted to hospital in Liverpool, it had been for “exploratory surgery.” This was long before CT and MIR scans, and cancer tumours do not show up well on x-rays, so people would have surgery as a way of diagnosing where and how big/advanced their tumour was. When my Gran had had her exploratory surgery, they had found that the cancer was extremely advanced and had spread to other organs in her abdomen, meaning there was nothing that could be done; certainly surgery was useless, so they simply sewed her back up again. I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know how ill she was, no one knew. My gran wasn’t told that her cancer was as advanced as it was; she certainly wasn’t told it was terminal. The decision was made by her doctors that she wouldn’t be able to cope with the knowledge that she was dying and therefore she wasn’t told. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen now, no doctor will take that God-like decision, but it still happened in my lifetime. It also meant that neither my gran nor her family had any chance to prepare for her death. When my mother was told that her cancer was terminal, thirty years after my gran’s death, she decided not to tell anyone else. But she was able to make that decision for herself and she took it for very personal but still practical reasons. It was also a very different time. I was an adult and a trained and experienced nurse. I had been quietly watching my mother’s health decline and I had been preparing myself. I also had Martin in my life, my partner, whom I could talk to about this and he knew what I was going through. Then I found out her cancer was terminal, though by accident. My mother was prescribed new medication, a hormonal treatment, and I recognised it as a medication used in palliative care, designed to shrink a tumour to reduce the symptoms from it, but it didn’t treat or remove the tumour. It was then that I knew she hadn’t told anyone her cancer was terminal. I was in a difficult position but I was an adult and had someone I could talk to. And when she was in the hospice, at the end of her life, I had the chance to say goodbye to her and we both knew it was goodbye. I work as a district nurse now and I look after people, in their own homes, who are at the end of their lives. I don’t have the input that palliative care nurses have; my role is very much providing the nursing care people need at the very end of their lives. This has given me an insight into how a death can and does affect the loved ones and family of someone dying. My own experience, personal and professional, has shown me what a large and life-changing event a loved one’s death can be. But I am also a writer and my computer-like mind stores all this away to be used in my writing. Death is such a life-changing event that I cannot but write about it. But I want to write about people’s personal experience of it. I don’t want to write sensationalist or sentimental prose about the death of a loved one, I want to write about the real progress and events of it all and the way these deaths affect people. That all said, I have just published a story, Five Days, about a child losing his mother to cancer. This child, a boy called Byron, isn’t told that his mother has cancer and that she is dying from it. It is her decision and she doesn’t let anyone else tell him what is happening. She is trying to protect him, but her actions leave Byron confused and isolated, he feels excluded from what is happening. Though not directly based on my own experience, I did tap into my experience as a child when I was writing this; I also used my experiences as a nurse too, especially when I was told not to tell a patient’s child that their parent was dying. I wanted to explore a child’s-eye view of terminal illness. It wasn’t an easy story to write, but so often I like to challenge myself with what I write, I want to explore difficult subjects from the point of view of characters being affected by them. This wasn’t the easiest story to write, I had to keep returning to the fact that the story is seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy without the insights that an adult character could bring to this story, but I did find it a rewarding thing to write. I had written about something important to me. I am very grateful to my writers’ group, Newham Writers’ Workshop, who gave me such helpful feedback on each chapter of this story. Writing can be such an isolated practice, and so often I don’t know if a piece of writing works or not, but getting feedback from my writers’ group has been invaluable and I have learnt so much from it. In her will, my gran left me her rocking chair. It was an item of furniture that I had loved sitting in as a child, the sheer originality of it attracting me; all the chairs in my parents’ home stayed solidly in place, none of them rocked. As a child I would always head straight towards that chair. When I moved into the first real home of my own, my own flat, I finally had space for it and it sat in my sitting room for years. It now sits in our bedroom, in a corner almost made for it. Happy reading, Drew
Waiting for My Father
Drew Payne posted a blog entry in Words, Words and WordsThe room was quiet; the only sounds there were small and slight, ones that would not normally have been noticed except for the silence there. There was the mechanical noise of the little pump occasionally leaping into life as it delivered another dose of painkillers. There was the hiss of air escaping as the air mattress slowly inflated and deflated. There was also the sound of his breathing, slow and almost rasping as he drew in air through his parted lips, held that air in his lungs for what seemed like an age, and then slowly exhaled it. He looked so small lying there in the middle of that hospital bed, almost lost in all those clean sheets. His eyes were closed, as they had been for so long now. His skin was dry and pale, it had taken on a grey pallor, while thick and dark stubble was pushing through his chin. His hair, only now thin and wispy, thinned out only by the chemotherapy and not by aging or baldness, was disheveled, more pushed back over his head than brushed into any style. My mother would have cast a sarcastic comment about his appearance if she had been here. My father was dying and all I could do was sit there at his bedside and wait. At first, I had sat silently by his bed, simply waiting on him. Doing anything else felt almost disrespectful. Unfortunately, boredom and distraction soon set in. At first, I just casually glanced at a magazine, a distraction as I flicked through its pages. Then I read one article from it, the one that had snatched my attention. Then I read another article, and then another one, and then I had read it from cover to cover. Finally, I swallowed my good intensions, took out the novel I had been reading on the train up there, and started reading it. As a nurse I had nursed many dying patients before and there had been so many different things to do, I had been kept busy with my tasks. I wasn’t a nurse here, I was a relative, I was his son, and all I had to do was wait. As a nurse, I had watched so many relatives doing this, sitting at their relative’s bedside and waiting, and my heart had gone out to them. Now it was my turn and I felt so useless. All I could do was sit there and wait; nothing practical or positive about it. My sister had organised a kind of rota so that she, my brother or I would be sitting next to my father’s bed, keeping him company, making sure he was not alone. I had travelled up to Liverpool, from my home in London, when he was admitted to the hospice. When I arrived, he was tired and weak and barely responsive. By the Saturday afternoon he was completely unresponsive, he was unmoving in his bed, he had stopped eating and drinking, and his eyes were now permanently closed. He seemed to be waiting for something, but what? His three children were at his bedside, who was he waiting for? My mother had died two years before from cancer. Her death had been quiet and quietly organised, like so much of her life had been. She had made so many arrangements and kept so much to herself. But at the end of it all, after her death, my father had been left on his own, and that was the last thing he had expected. My father came from a generation of men who expected to die before their wives. He’d had heart disease for several decades and because of this expected to die before my mother. But the treatment and management of heart disease improved over that time, and his heart disease was managed well. My mother died before him, not what he had been expecting. Unfortunately, again, like so many men of his generation, my father didn’t have the emotional or psychological knowledge to survive being widowed. He hadn’t just lost his wife of nearly fifty years, but he had lost his close companion, his friend throughout so much, he’d also lost the person who had organised so much of his life and the person whose council he’d always trusted. This broke him because he couldn’t cope with his loss. Grief made him angry and nasty, how could we be happy, how could we carry on as normal? He was angry at me, snapping at me and saying the most hurtful things. I’d lost him to the anger of grief. Martin and I had only been together a few years then and I’d wanted him to get to know my father, but that wish was now gone. My father had been replaced with a bitter and angry old man. It felt so unfair. Some uncaring person had told my father that he’d get over the loss of his wife, someone who didn’t really knew my father, and this had only made him even angrier. A loss like his someone would never “get over.” That Saturday he was dying in his hospice bed, but he had started dying two years before when he lost my mother. It had been the day after my mother’s funeral; he had been such a lost and angry little old man. It had been heart-breaking and I’d not known what to say. Were there any words I could have said? On the Friday afternoon, my sister’s vicar had visited my father. The man clearly said that he’d seen many people in my father’s situation who had got better, got up out of bed and lived for years. The man’s naked denial had almost taken my breath away. I said that my father was dying, his hands and feet were icy cold because his circulation was slowing and failing, his internal organs were failing; he’d never get better. That vicar told me off for denying hope. He knew better than me, he was an ex-policeman and now an Anglican vicar, I was only a nurse. I was left feeling angry and frustrated, what was the use of this vicar? I spent Sunday afternoon was my friends Loraine and David. When they heard what was happening, they invited me for Sunday dinner and a break. I did my nurse training with Loraine and now she was married to David, an Anglican vicar, and they were living in Liverpool then. When I arrived at their home, at lunchtime, David told me he had prayed for my father at their morning Eucharist service, he’d prayed that my father’s suffering would end soon. I could have hugged him for that, I wish I had. That afternoon, after a wonderful Sunday dinner, we sat around and talked about books and gardening and fish ponds. Loraine and I gossiped about the people we trained with. Their dog made a big fuss over me. As I sat with the dog on my lap, patting him, I realised it had been days since I had touched anyone else, I had barely shaken hands with anyone. When I returned to the hospice that Sunday evening, my father was still lying there in the middle of that hospital bed, breathing in that painfully slow way. He was still waiting for something, just hanging in there. He died the following Wednesday morning and I wasn’t there. At first all I felt was relief. That awful waiting was over and his suffering was finished. He’d been so unhappy and angry as a widower, he’d not liked or even wanted the life he’d lived those last two years. He’d been so unhappy without my mother. Later I mourned, my father was gone and it felt strange and uncomfortable and very awkward. I went back to work too soon and had to be sent home when I burst into tears, apologising for the fact that my father had died. It was only after his funeral that the realisation came to me when I compared the dates. My father had died two years and two months to the date, almost to the hour, after my mother had died. That’s what he’d been waiting for. For Thomas Price Payne 19/12/1927 to 2/07/2003 Drew
Those Pictures Mothers Carry around with Them
Drew Payne posted a blog entry in Words, Words and WordsThe first time I saw it she was visiting me and took out her purse to pay for a purchase. There it was, inside her purse, a picture of me. An old and unflattering picture of me. It was a passport photograph, taken years ago. My hair was in a style I’d not had for years, short and flat. I was staring fixedly into the camera, no smile on my face, the harsh light making my skin seem pale and unhealthy. I wondered why she had chosen that one, but I said nothing. It wasn’t an easy question to ask. I have many pictures of her. Ones from her youth, as a bright and happy young woman, her hair short and dark, dressed in pale or white summer dresses with wide belts and full skirts. Pictures of her in motherhood, her clothes changing over the years, showing her own slow change in tastes. Pictures of her taken only in the last few years, her as the rosy-cheeked, white-haired grandmother that she grew into. (I have no pictures of her at the end, a tired and ill old woman, but I don’t want to remember her like that.) I didn't keep any pictures in my wallet. Even if I did they would become lost in the chaos of paper, cards, loose coins and my different IDs and all the other things tucked away in there. For me pictures are placed in frames and hung on walls so that everyone can see them, enjoyed at a glance. That’s what I did with my favorite pictures of her. Not hidden away in the dark and clutter of my wallet. (I have heard people say that they carry pictures of their loved ones, their partners or children, with them so they can see them whenever they want to. I carry around my memories of her with me, as bright as any photographs.) I always wondered why she chose a picture of me to carry around. I am not her only child; I have an older brother and sister. Maybe that was the reason. I was her youngest child, the last one to leave the nest. After I had gone she was no longer a mother, the role she had had for over forty years. Maybe there is a special bond between a mother and her youngest child, I don’t know, and if there ever was I am ashamed to admit I never noticed. Why that picture, of all the ones she had of me, such a harsh and unemotional one, to carry with her? (It is too late now to ask these questions.) At the end, as she lay there in that bed being cared for by nurses who it had only taken her a few days to grow close to, I was unable to ask any but the simplest of questions. I had thought, at the end, I would be able to ask her all those questions I had been yearning to know the answers to, ones over which I had puzzled and wondered for years, not least about that picture. When the time came, all I could ask were the basic questions, "Are you comfortable?" and "Is there anything you want?" The profound forgotten and replaced by the important. As a child I had questioned and questioned her, why this and how that, almost challenging everything she said. As an adolescent I had distanced myself from her and her rules as I was fighting to be myself, whatever that meant. What did she know? Only as an adult, when I had become a professional in my own right, we were finally able to reach an understanding and peace with each other. I was still her son but now we could talk as equals. At the end I was the one she requested of, the one she asked to look after her husband, my father. After it was all ended, the funeral and cremation and final spreading of her ashes, did someone find found that picture of me? As my sister-in-law and my sister were clearing out her handbag, the final act of tidying a life away, tidying away her now unneeded things, did they find her purse? As they emptied it did they find that picture of me and what did they make of it? These questions are unimportant; I will forget them and never seek an answer. Instead, I will hold on to those memories I have of her, memories that live outside of pictures. For Joan Margaret Payne 12/1/30 to 2/5/01 (I originally wrote this in the week between my mother’s death and her funeral. It was my way of working out how I was feeling. I have rewritten it in the subsequent years, but the emotions here still remained intact.)
For Gareth with love
Dark posted a blog entry in North to AlaskaOn Monday, July 22nd, my cat died. Gareth was 9 years old. We don't really know what happened and probably never will. What we do know is that for some reason he was out on my parents' deck and either fell or jumped. He broke his back. I pray he died quickly but if it was otherwise, I don't want to know. That little cat was my everything and it's fucking breaking my heart. Gareth came into my life when he was six months old. When I broke up with the man I thought I'd be with for the rest of my life, Gareth would climb into my lap and bump me with his head. He'd beep his strange, half-meows and remind me that I had better things to do than feel sorry for myself, namely feeding him. Even cats have their priorities. I couldn't sleep last night. I even through my backpack on the bed to simulate the extra weight by my feet even though Gareth would sprawl across my ankles. Today I face taking apart the cat tree and litter box and putting away his toys. There's also a petco order due to arrive, things I'd gotten for sending out to my new home. It's only my home now for there's no one to share it with. Gareth won't meet me at the door and loudly tell me about his day. He won't lay on my keyboard or beg to share my dinner. He won't be sprawled on the back of the sofa, his tail whapping me as I grade papers. I know the pain will fade eventually. With him I didn't feel alone. He gave me strength because if he could plot to take over the world then I could surely follow my dreams. Please God let Gareth chase lots of mice and eat as much as he wants now that he doesn't have to watch his weight. Gareth was the inspiration behind Rick's cat (from The One I Want) and there's a picture in my albums somewhere. I'm painstakingly typing this on my phone, so I haven't figured out how to do links. That little cat was such a huge part of my life from the first moment he leaped into my arms. I haven't cried this much in years and I don't want to go to Chevak without him. He may have been only a cat but he was my friend and I loved him with all my heart.
Fae Briona posted a blog entry in Thoughts from the Faerie FoolTook today and Monday off. I'm not making it to Joplin for the Tri-State Gem & Mineral event because of unexpected car repairs but I did drive down to the same town C & I were at when we spent an entire afternoon wandering through antique stores. There were a couple of moments where his loss threatened to sneak up on me, but I tried to focus on the fun we had that afternoon -- the brief moments holding hands, the quick pat an the ass when we where out of sight of other customers -- the good memories to keep. I know that the first part of November isn't going to be good. I have a feeling that memories of his passing are going to overwhelm any thoughts of my 50th birthday; but I know he doesn't want me to be hurting.
A Look Back on 2014
Autumn Dream posted a blog entry in Autumn Dream's BlogWow! It's been over a year since my first and only blog post! Yikes! Well, fear not. I have returned. Some of you may have forgotten about lil' ole me since I haven't been active for several months (not to say that I don't lurk in the shadows of GA stalking you all... like Batman. But without a cool costume. Unless you count fun pajamas as a cool costume? Because right now I'm wearing bright yellow pajama pants with Homer Simpson's face all over them, and a yellow shirt with his face on it too. I match! And I'm so yellow that I look like a giant freaking banana or something... hmm...giant banana. I wonder whether that is appropriate imagery for GA. Maybe it's the perfect imagery for GA? Anyway, I digress...). If you have forgotten about me or are just hearing from me for the first time, my name is Dylan! *waits for applause* *crickets* Well nice to meet you, a**holes. Jk! * * * * * Now then, let's get down to business (to defeat...the Huns). 2014 is over, and we're moving into a bright new year! Sure, there are still war, famine, and disease in the world, but I'm confident that we'll be able to find enough goodness this year in ourselves and in others that will balance it all out. And if any of you should fall upon hard times this year, I sincerely wish you all the grace and strength in the world to overcome those rough patches. I'm glad 2014 is over. For me, it started out grand and beautiful, but then crashed and burned near the end. My girlfriend, Ariel, and I became closer than ever in the beginning of the year when we realized that we may want to spend the rest of our lives together. Even though we're in our older teens and many people would say that we didn't really mean that or were stupid, I honestly believed I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I still do... Anyway, we got 'engaged to be engaged' in January 2014. I asked her to be my wife one day and gave her a beautiful promise ring. She said yes, of course, and it was the happiest day of my life so far. But it was not to last... In May, she started to have slight feelings for her best friend, Johnny. Ugh. That guy is an a**. TOTAL douche in my eyes, but of course a ton of people love him. He's the star kicker for our varsity football team. He's not really popular, per se, but out of the people who know him, many love him. I met him in Freshman year, and he used to tease me EVERY day when I saw him by calling me "faggot". Yeah, THAT kind of a**hole. Then, when I started dating Ariel in sophomore year, I think he got jealous that I could win over such a beautiful girl. So, one day when I was sick at home, he sleazed his way over to talk to my girlfriend. And before I knew it, they were best friends. But of course, I didn't want to be that douche who tells his girlfriend who she can and can't be friends with! So I let them be friends...even though he wuld tease me all of the time in front of her. Ugh I loathe him. Well anyway, in May she cheated on me by kissing him. And she didn't tell me until the summer. Well, I forgave her because I loved her far too deeply to let her go. But lo and behold, the feelings for Johnny grew stronger and she broke up with me the week before my birthday (yes, REALLY!) and started dating him the same day. It was really, really hurtful...we had been together for 2 years. Then she told me I wasn't allowed to talk to her family anymore, which sucked... and 3 weeks after they started dating, I found out that she was wearing a promise ring from him and they had already 'done the do'. It took US a year to do either of those things...so like wtf, man? haha Anyway, besides that unfortunate series of events (yes, I'll stop prattling on about my stupid love drama now ), my dad has been sober for over a year now! I'm so proud of him! And...I got a new cat! Her name is "Halle" Halloween. Like "Halle" Barry, but furrier. She's a black short-hair. Which makes sense actually with the Halle Barry thing, because she was freaking Catwoman! I just realized that!!! Haha. Halle is a very goofy cat. She likes to play tag, and absolutely loves tablecloths. I put them on the table, she pulls them off! It's like she's... a frustrated interior decorator or something, I swear! My dog watches her like a form of television... she's the dog's entertainment! Hmm...I started my senior year this year, and I started applying to colleges. Scary process! But I've heard back from one already, and I've been accepted at San Diego State University! *Parties like it's 1999...then realizes I was only 3 then (#awkward)* Anyway, I'll wrap this up! My year has been filled with many good and bad things, as I'm sure all of yours were! And I wish you all the best going into this next year, as I already said. Thank you for letting me vent and practice my jokes Love you all! And Happy New Year! Cheers, Dylan