Last week was very stressful. A lady beloved of our family who has had a chronic illness for the past three years took a turn for the worse and passed away last Friday. The day we went to see her in the hospital we found out that the younger daughter of another very good friend of ours had been found dead that morning by her boyfriend. Needless to say, I have had neither the time nor the desire, really, to blog or read blogs for the past week.
Our friend Dian, 79, along with her husband, Buel, who died three years ago, were like surrogate parents to my husband, Thomas. When we married, Buel and Dian and their children welcomed me into their family as well. When Thomas was a teenager they were a very good influence for him and had the kind of warm, fun family that he didn't have at the time and really needed. He could always be sure of a welcome at their house.
I liked them because, well, they were just likable people, but also because they reminded me of my own family. They were a very musical family, like mine, and Thomas used to enjoy going over to their house on a weekend evening with everyone singing and/or playing an instrument. That's how I grew up, too. I had come to be good friends with the two daughters of the family over the years, and Andrew and Eler Beth are friends with some of the grandchildren.
Dian had pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic disease. She had managed it well for the past three years, with a bad bout now and then. A couple of weeks ago her older daughter who is the only one of the four children who doesn't live locally, came down to stay with her for a while, to take her to some doctor's visits, and ended up staying two weeks because Dian's PF was getting worse. On Tuesday evening she passed out and was put in the hospital.
On Wednesday we were called because she was doing so badly that the doctor had said it was time to call in Hospice. He calculated from her lung function that she had a few days or maybe a couple of weeks. She was joking and laughing in the background when we were on the phone, and she asked for us to bring her a deer burger. She'd already had dinner that night, so we said we'd bring her one for lunch the next day.
It is funny because I usually don't keep ground deer in the freezer. I don't use it ground very often, and I hate the thought of all those lovely steaks and roasts being ground up as a lot of hunters do. But we keep what I call "stew" pieces, and if I do want to make something that calls for ground venison, then Thomas can quickly grind up some for me. He had ground some for a friend two days previously, and I'd asked him to grind up about three pounds for me while he was at it. So I had the venison and I was honored to make Dian a burger.
So Friday morning I seasoned up the venison and made the burger the way Dian had particularly asked for it. We called the hospital and were told come right over; she wouldn't be able to eat the burger, but she'd know we had brought it. Her lungs had started failing much more rapidly than her doctor had anticipated, and he now gave her only hours to live. She had already instructed the family that when it came to that point, she didn't want to be kept alive only with oxygen.
I can't count the number of friends who came in to see her that day. One of her granddaughters was with her husband visiting friends in New York,but had left at 9:30 that morning when they were called. Dian said she did not want to remove the oxygen until they got there.
Dian knew us -- Andrew and Eler Beth were able to come by after they got off work --, and she knew we'd brought her burger for her. She was still trying to joke and talk to everyone. Almost all of her sisters and brothers were able to get in to see her. Sometimes her blood pressure would rise, and her oldest son would play one of her favorite songs on his guitar and the four kids would sing to her, and her BP would go down. Once they started singing what she called "our song," a favorite of hers and her husband, and she moved her foot like she was keeping time and tried to sing along.
We said our goodbyes and left around 7:30 that night, although we were welcome to stay longer. Thomas said he just couldn't be there when she went to sleep. At 11 when the granddaughter and her husband got there, the first thing Dian said through her mask was, "Did you have fun?" She visited with them for a while, all of her children and grandchildren in the room with her. Her oldest daughter asked her if she was ready to take off the oxygen. She replied that she wasn't quite ready yet, and she'd let them know when she was.
Just before 3 a.m. she said she was ready. At 3:03 a.m. she went to sleep in death.
To the extent possible she went the way she wanted to go and when she was ready. To the extent possible she was in control.
Her funeral is this Saturday. Thomas is one of the pallbearers. We will be at the visitation tomorrow as well.
While we were at the hospital last Thursday we were told that the 29 year-old daughter of some good friends of ours had been found dead by her boyfriend that morning. The young woman had been in remission from cancer. They did an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death, but of course that won't be back for a couple of weeks. That was a shock to everyone. It is especially hard on her parents. Her father is fighting cancer as well, so this has been harder for her mother and father even than one could imagine. Her funeral was Tuesday.
So I have not felt up to blogging for the past week, nor have I felt like keeping up with blog reading. I am sorry for that, because I was really enjoying it. I'll get back into it over the next few days and continue to read some new blogs highlighted on the Blogher FB page.
~ ~ Lori