Gratitude and Crap

[This post has been edited on 04/10/19]

This is a season of gratitude and crap.

Gratitude because our hockey team, the Nashville Predators just won the Division Championship.

Crap because our hockey team, blah-blah-blah, just won the Division Championship and now we’re in the playoffs.

Gratitude because we’re in the playoffs.

Crap because we’re in the play-offs which reminds me of our son going to play-off games with us in 2017 and celebrating his favorite player, Victor Arviddson. Chris had also started acting odd. Odd like getting lost, leaving games early, not showing up on time to go to games and other abnormal behaviors like losing jobs.

The play-off year of 2018 was worse. In January Chris was diagnosed with a very rare brain disease:  adult onset leukodystophy with axonal spheroids and pigmented glia.

Gratitude for 911, EMS, ER’s, PhD’s, MD’s, RN’s, LPN’s, PT’s, Family, Friends, Neighbors, Strangers and God’s presence entwined in our Hell.

Crap because they were all needed.

Gratitude for the diversion in the spring of 2018 when the Predators got into the playoffs again. Chris stayed home with Gretchen and the home caregiver that would come while we were at the games. He needed help eating and walking, but he sat and watched the Predators with his sister and his caregiver – falling asleep many times in the recliner.

I’m coming to the conclusion that everything in our personal lives, focuses on our children. No matter how old they get, they’re still our children. I’d gotten to the age where I would joke that our kids, Chris and Gretchen, were now older than me. Terry has always been an old soul. Me, not so much, although I feel like my soul has aged decades in less than a year.

Gratitude for our daughter who was such a hero to him and to us. She is very devoted to her brother and they loved each other dearly. My heart will never heal from their sorrows.

Crap because I’m writing about loss again. It’s almost a year since our son Chris died. Time flies, and then again, it stands still.

Gratitude.  I got words down.

Crap. I  got words down.

Go Preds~

 

Gratitude

A neighbor gifted me a book on grief. It’s been a Godsend.

20190409_141027

 

 

 

 

The End is Another Beginning

I just read my last post, It’s 4 o’clock In The Morning, and sit here stunned.

There are no more sounds coming from his room.

The monitor has been shoved into a drawer and I don’t thoroughly understand why I’m sleeping through the night. Maybe it’s because the tension so many nights that were a small version of Hell. Little did I know that those nights were hard, but would get harder at the end.

My husband, daughter and I cared for him before and after Alive Hospice was summoned on May 4th. A Hospice nurse would check on him daily and take vitals. An aide would come two to three times a week for bathing. He was bedbound a week or so later. He was 44 and a vital cyclist. His heart…his heart wanted to beat. His brain was done. Shutting down.

His end was much like his beginning almost 45 years ago. We cared for him. Bathed him. Kept him comfortable. We loved him. His baby sister sat by his side, held his hand and would not leave him on his last two days in that room.

He’s gone; Into the Heavens and leaving rainbows in the sky without the rain.

Our lives have been filled with love from family and friends. He had a Celebration of Life that showed who he had been. What wonderful art and music and travels he made and enjoyed.

I will miss him, a part of my heart, until he introduces me to his new friends, Jesus and Abraham Lincoln.

‘Bike on!’ my son. You are loved by many. But none love you like your Mom, Dad and Sister. Forever and a day.

 

Terry Christopher Dunham

August 10 1973 – May 20, 2018

 

Thank you to Alive Hospice nurses and Aides who were kind, cried with us, praised our caretaking and brought T.C. a Willy Nelson Last Man Standing Tee Shirt.

Thank you to all the friends, neighbors and strangers who brought meals to us through Meal Train for so many weeks. We’re alive because of y ‘all.

Thank you to our church, Journey Franklin in Brentwood (don’t ask), for standing by us through thick and thin and helping us make Chris’ Celebration of Life so special. Bell’s Two Roses and cake. Absolutely perfect.

Thank you to Richland Health Center and their great Physical Therapists, Marcie and Thomas and Gracie,another Sturgill Simpson fan and our social worker who became friends of Chris and our family. They all visited him at home the week before he passed away.

Thanks too, to childhood friends Adam and Stan and Ted who wrote or visited from Michigan and/or NY.  And ‘new’ Tennessee friends, Peter, Brian and Sam.

Thank you to my cousins, my sister,  sister-in-law, niece and hubs, friends and family from South Carolina, Michigan, Indiana, New York, Arizona and Gramma from Florida who came to help us before and after. I love you so, Sissy.

Thanks, too, to all his Eugene friends and friends around the world who had kind and similar stories to tell about this sweet soul.

We are blessed to be his parents and sister for over four decades of his story.

We miss his joyful and peace-filled spirit.

Adventure awaits, Chris. Ride On!

And tell Abe we said “Hello”.

It’s 4 o’clock in the morning…

I woke at 4am, after a few fake-awakes during the night, with some real prickling cramps in my toes. The baby monitor laid facedown next to my pillow, the sound turned off. There have been too many nights listening. Coughing. Choking. I’d run in, check my son, adjust his head, consider suction or not-to-suction, wet his lips, give him water. I’d sit in the oversized chair and hold his hand,  stand and stroke his forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, run my fingers through his hair and whisper mother love-words to him.

Not this morning.

My son is 44 and dying from a rare brain disease.

This morning, I didn’t go in after I slowly turned the monitor over and saw him sleeping. I couldn’t turn the sound on. I wouldn’t turn the sound on — in case there wasn’t any.

My robe was hanging on the post at the foot of the bed, taunting me to sit up, put my bare feet on the floor, put that lime green summer robe on and go to the fridge to get a Gatorade for the cramps teasing my toes and thigh.

Fine. I’ll go.

Robe on. Feet slapping hardwood to the damn cold Gatorade. Grab stale oatmeal cookies from the pantry and leave the kitchen for my office. I stop to listen. I hear him snoring softly.

Do. Not. Disturb.

I don’t.