A Bitter Change of Season

It is my hope that this blog isn’t going to become an anthology of depressing stories from my life, although that seems to be the way of things, lately.

My younger, and only, brother passed away the night before Thanksgiving. Died. As in, ceased to live on this earth.

Even as I type those words out, I can scarcely believe them.

But I was there at the hospital when it happened and I know them to be absolutely true. He had been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance that morning. I had spent most of the day in the surgical waiting room with my mom, awaiting word from anyone wearing a set of scrubs who could tell us what was happening.

Blood in his abdomen. Emergency surgery to find out why. By late afternoon, we knew of the aneurysm that ruptured near his spleen. For a very short time, we held on to the belief that things would be okay. The bleeding was controlled… until it wasn’t. For hours, the surgical ICU staff fought their best fight, bringing unit after unit of blood and platelets like swords onto a battlefield.

By late evening, they were still unable to stop the exsanguination—he was bleeding from everywhere, they had never seen anything like it—and his organs began shutting down. We were left with the option to keep trying, recognizing futility in the knowledge that he would be brain dead, or we could tell them to stop their aggressive efforts and let nature take its intended course.

Standing in front of my mom, holding her hands in mine, the same knowing expression reflected in both of our faces… we chose the latter.

“What else is there to do?” I remember how her tearful words cut through the silence as eight doctors stood, eyes downcast and bodies frozen in suspended animation, knowing just as we did that there was nothing left to do.

I will never forget that night as long as I live. The amount and complexity of the machinery that surrounded him. The staccato, repetitive track of beeping that kept time with the shushing, rhythmic utterance of his ventilator. The echo of footsteps as doctors shifted around his bed in choreographed motion. The way he looked, swollen and alien and silent as death.

The world around us was still as I hovered at his bedside. Medical instruments continued to automate his breathing but I knew—with absolute certainty—he was already gone. Where? I could only wonder.

He slipped away a little after 9:30 that night.

I want to know why. People who should have died a long time ago are still here. People who have done horrible things are still here. People who want out of their lives are still here, ready and waiting for Death to beckon at its earliest convenience.

My brother had everything to live for. Why did he have to go?

I can’t seem to find any answers to that question and I don’t believe I ever will, save for life can be cruel and the lesson is in how we handle ourselves whenever it is.

To be honest, I’m not handling it well. This internal and constant seething rage is something I’ve never felt before. I’ve been trying to stay active, trying to do all of the things I used to do before November 25th. I did some stuff for the PTO at school. I put some lights out around the porch for the holidays. Even put the reindeer antlers on my car. I have not done a lick of shopping and it’s December 19th, but that’s typical of me this time of year.

Sometimes I spontaneously cry while I’m driving, lost in thought. Or now, while I’m writing. I hadn’t written anything in weeks, until a few days ago when the urge struck like lightning. I realized I needed to do *something* productive and gods know I hadn’t submitted anything new to BLUNTmoms in a while. My novel… its characters and story line have finally started calling me back and it’s a welcoming sound. A new work, a children’s book, is beginning to form into something tangible.

I have things to focus on. Direction. Purpose.

I needed this sort of normalcy more than I could have imagined. And I know I have to keep moving forward or else I’ll drown before I can set foot on the shore.

“Fake It Till You Make It” is officially my new mantra. Go through the motions pretending you’re okay, and eventually, you will discover that you are.

I hope.

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On Life And The Occasional Unfairness Of It

It’s been quiet here for two months now. Life has a way of doing that to people, I suppose. One day, you’re full of interesting shit to say and in the next… you’ve got nothing.

August was difficult month. My father passed away suddenly, although perhaps not entirely unexpectedly. The night before the morning I received the call, I had an inkling. An odd sense of precognition that warned me of exactly what was to come in a matter of hours. I just knew… and yet, I ignored it. I didn’t call him that evening in spite of what I felt, because anyone who knew my father knows that you don’t ever drop in on him unexpectedly or phone him when he might be busy watching The Weather Channel. It would infuriate him in ways I could never fathom; that one simple disruption would cause a tiny ripple in the flow of his entire day, and as the undulation multiplied and slowly grew in size, in his mind the reverberation of it heralded the systematic destruction of his entire world.

Even though “Weather On The 8’s” is replayed on an unending loop, every eight minutes.

He was an odd duck, that one. Still, I should have called him, anyway.

My mother and I, along with my brother, seamlessly made all of the arrangements without argument or sense of discord. The man himself had wanted nothing in way of a funeral procession; we agreed on a small service with military honors at the cemetery chapel before interment. He may have rolled his eyes at my black “funeral” slacks, but I don’t think he would have minded them entirely.

Funerals are intended for the people left behind, more so than for those who did the leaving.

My mother is handling her life as it comes, taking care of one thing after another as her own mother does, and as her aunt does, the way her grandmother and her great-grandmother did. There is a resilience throughout the women of our clan, I think; husbands are always lost too soon and most of our women live decades beyond those shattering losses. Such is the way of a long life. My great aunt is 93, my grandmother is 88. Their mother lived until the age of 93. Female longevity is in our bloodline.

Now watch me get hit by a bus today. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the ass and a hilarious twist of fate?

At least there’s a life insurance policy in place now. I had been hounding my husband about getting them set up for the last ten months or so because the older I get, the more I am apparently turning into my grandmother—a woman who has all of her ducks in a row. Her entire funeral is arranged and paid for so she wouldn’t have to worry about the family “dealing with it” when the time comes. I haven’t gone so far yet, but give me a little more time and I will.

We rarely ever need those types of fallback plans, it’s only when they aren’t already in place that they become a necessity.

Here’s to living forever.