Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bullshit post written while under the influence of a lot of dark chocolate and a dash of self-pity. Enjoy….

I need to write and I don’t know where to start.

So I’ve been eating chocolate instead.  Lots of it.  Dark chocolate.

(thank you for the christmas chocolates uncle david)

And crying.

And staring at this blank screen.

So here goes….

It’s been 22 days since Mom died and I’ve spent virtually all of them here, in my sister’s home in Tampa.

Being here has probably saved my life, and not just because of the chocolate. 

(for all sorts of reasons that I can’t write about right now or else I will start bawling again and searching for more chocolate)

I’ve been in a little protective bubble. 

But all that is going to change when I fly back to Colorado tomorrow.

And I’m all jumbled up about it — sad to leave my sister and family, excited to see my son, sad to leave the ocean, can’t wait to be back in the mountains, sad to leave my niece,  looking forward to not answering her 4.3 million questions a day, sad to leave the last place I saw my sweet mommy, sad to go back to Colorado without her, excited to be with the rest of my family, freaked out because I haven’t seen most of  them since before Mom died and it’s going to feel all fresh and raw and horrible again.

Plus the whole “NOW WHAT” issue is hanging over everything.

Once I leave this protective bubble and the holidays are over there seems to be this expectation (from everyone, including, not surprisingly, me) that I will just get on with life. Tra-la-la.

(that’s not true — no one is expecting tra-la-la, per se)

Which I guess is what normally happens. 

Life goes on.

Except I have no idea how that is going to happen for me because I don’t know where I’m going to live or what I’m going to do or even, in a way, who I am now, without my Mom and her illness kind of  “defining” the terms of my life.

(And now I’m imagining that scene in Zoolander when Derek peers into the gutter at his reflection and asks “Who am I?”…. So lame…)

Anyway.

All I can do at this point is take things one day at a time.  Anything more feels too big.

xoxo

kim

p.s.  ugh. 

p.s.s.  thanks for all the notes of support.  i love you guys.

p.s.s.s.  i really hope i’m able to write something that isn’t bullshit soon.  yikes.

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Filed under grief, The Caregiver with the Dragon Tattoo

I have no gifts to bring. Unless you count beer.

It’s Christmas Eve.

I wish I had something to bring to it. 

Some gift of love, joy, laughter, presence.

But I don’t.

I braced myself for today and woke up with big plans to make it awesome and sparkly and delightful.

Instead I’ve spent most of the day crying in my room.

Feeling guilty for what I can’t find inside myself.

I miss my Mom.

I miss my Dad.

I miss my son (who is not dead, just not with me this year).

I miss the magic I used to feel about Christmas Eve.

I love being with my sister, her husband and my amazing 6 year old niece.

I just wish I had more of myself to give them.

But I’m empty.

I know that I (we) are not the only ones feeling pain and grief this holiday season.

I wish I had more to give everyone who feels lost and alone and adrift tonight.  You are not alone. 

Tonight I raise my glass in solidarity with all those who mourn the loss of a life they once knew.  Here’s to that sweet life and to the knowledge that tomorrow brings with it the truth that all things are possible.

Just breathe.

xoxo,

kim

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In other news, I’m pregnant. With the Buddha. Congratulations, Buddhism.

This is not necessarily a “real” post.  If you’re new here, you might want to skip this one and proceed to some of the other morbidly depressing posts from the last few weeks.

Mostly I just feel the need to check in  and confirm that  I have not, in fact, fallen into the pit of despair and hot lava and bad poetry.  (Ok, I did write some bad “poetry” from the edge of the pit of despair (and — cringe — publish it) but I didn’t go all the way in.)

Also, I am now in a little hotel on Longboat Key near Sarasota, Florida.

THANK GOD.

I needed some solitude and space of my own.  My sister and her husband and child needed to have their home/life to themselves after a month of hosting not only Mom and I, but then seven more relatives who came to stay during Mom’s last few days.

We’ve had a LOT of togetherness, which is difficult under “normal” circumstances, but when your artistic genius Mom (with great hair) dies right in the middle of the togetherness, everything takes on a new flavor.

“SUCK”.

The new flavor is “everything SUCKS” and we will pretend to be kind of ok with it but we all know it SUCKS and we are barely containing our extreme range of emotions regarding the pure SUCKINESS of it all.

Anyway.

I’m here on Longboat Key in a tiny little hotel overlooking the gulf of Mexico and it’s perfect.  It’s mostly empty and the few people here seem as eager to avoid conversation as I am, so everyone is minding their own business.  There are no kids.  Which is good because (a) I’m a total curmudgeon right now and (b) I’m bracing myself for taking care of my brilliant six year old niece all next week.  She’s amazing and a joy.  And she talks 10000% of the time.  You might think I’m exaggerating.  I’m not.  And it isn’t just idle chit-chat.  She is either bossing me around or saying something that makes me think her parents should be talking to Harvard and MIT, like, now.  Oh, and she is drop dead gorgeous.  If I weren’t so mature, I would be jealous of her already.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Walking on the beach.
  • Reading (OMG – The Untethered Soul is still blowing my mind.  Everyone should read this book.)
  • Journalling
  • Being mostly silent.
  • I showered today!
  • Crying.
  • Watching Season 2 of Dexter (how did I miss Season 2?  I don’t even know…)
  • Trying to ignore the Internet, except for the “meaningful” parts, which by definition, means I’m trying to avoid TMZ and anything “E” channel related.

During my quest for meaningful-ness on the Internet, I watched a webcast of Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist monk/leader/amazing person) speaking about Mother Earth.  Well, I think he was going to be speaking about Mother Earth, but he started talking about how we all have mothers, even the Buddha had a mother and, basically, there is this “overall” mother – Mamaya (sp?) – who, I’m assuming is akin to Mother Earth.  But what struck me was the part of the story where a student went to study with Mamaya (who was dead, of course, so he did a sitting meditation and got to her) and Mamaya was all “I was so happy when I was pregnant with the Buddha — no worries, no fear, only compassion – I couldn’t believe how big my womb was to hold all this compassion….” (Note that I’m not AT ALL quoting this correctly) and Thay (that is Thich Nhat Hanh’s, ummm, nickname?) went on to say that like Mamaya, we are ALL pregnant with the Buddha.  We all have this capacity for loving kidness and compassion inside of us – man or woman – and we believe we are just small humans but really we are huge, with huge wombs for all the Buddha-nature inside all of us.

[DEAR REAL BUDDHISTS:  I realize I’m probably butchering this beautiful story and you’re probably all “JESUS CHRIST, if you can’t get the story right, don’t even tell it, you’re ruining Buddhism for everyone else!”  And then I would say back to you “ummm, where’s the loving kindness in that, dude?  At least I’m not acting like I’m some kind of expert on Buddhism…”]

I fell asleep before Thay got to the real message re: Mother Earth (if you’ve ever heard him talk, you will understand why it is easy to fall asleep listening to him.  Also, he speaks Vietnamese.) which, I think, was going to be something like how we need to love our earth like we love our Mother and honor her capacity, etc. etc.  So, I guess I did hear most of it.

Anyway.

I had already heard what I needed to hear:  I am pregnant with the Buddha.

That explains a LOT.

Like how I should probably nurture the part of me that is chock full of loving kindness and compassion and peace and “it’s all good” instead of listening to the parts that are all “YOU SUCK.  YOU CAN’T EVEN GRIEVE RIGHT.  WHAT A LOSER.”  It also explains my fat belly and current obsession with yoga pants 🙂

xoxo

kim

p.s.  I warned you that this was not a real post.

p.s.s.  Is it healthy or scary that I still have a sense of humor at this time?

p.s.s.s.  How early is too early to start drinking on a Friday afternoon when you’re grieving the loss of all your alcoholic parents?  (Today is Dad’s birthday – RIP JKT)

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Filed under Cancer sucks., grief, My Big Book of Me, The Caregiver with the Dragon Tattoo

Monday pulls me under.

image by Toni Frissell

I love this photo.

Grief is the ocean and I am the girl.

Some days are like this.

My grief is a warm ocean, a womb, and I am surrounded by it, held by it, protected.

The world is out there, but it is muffled and soft.

I don’t struggle.

I don’t panic.

I breathe.

Today is different.

Today my grief is an angry, roiling ocean with a mean riptide.

It wants to pull me out into deeper water and dash me against the jagged rocks of all my fears and failings.

I struggle, search for something to keep me afloat, tread water, panic.

I can’t breathe.

And now I wonder which came first – the angry ocean of grief or the frantic struggle against it.

Not that it matters.

It’s all here and I’m tired.

Writing helps.

xoxo,

kim

 

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Filed under Cancer sucks., grief, The Caregiver with the Dragon Tattoo

The world has lost an artistic genius (with great hair) and I lost my mommy. Ouch.

(this is totally under copyright protection, Marguerite Broyles, 2010)

My artistic genius Mom (with great hair) passed away on Tuesday morning.

I wish I had something extremely eloquent and moving to say.

I don’t.

My Mom died.  I’m sad.  Period.

Yes, I’m glad she is out of pain.

Yes, I’m sure she is in a “better place”.

Yes, I know she is deliriously happy  and probably already busy redecorating wherever she is.

AND

None of that changes the fact that I don’t want her to be dead.

I WANT MY MOM, DAMMIT.

She was funny and bright and a pain in the ass and had no common sense at all and was magnificently bi-polar with almost no boundaries and she loved baby feet and grapes and should’ve been a majority owner in Coca-Cola and had what turned out to be a fatal attraction to gauze clothing and a beautiful smile and she loved road trips and lilacs and her nails were always perfectly manicured and she never left the house without lipstick.

She was also psychic, probably.

She “doodled” the picture above in her journal last Fall — right around the time we first asked her oncologist (“Dr. Death”) about some of the memory and balance problems she was having and asked him to check it out.  He ordered a CT scan and told us it was clear.  Four months later when she started having seizures and had a big ole brain tumor and several smaller brain tumor “seeds”, they told us  (“they” being the neurosurgeon and the new oncologist “Dr. Death, Probably”) that the best way to detect anything in the brain is with an MRI, not a CT scan.  Anyway….. she had brain surgery and then a procedure called Gamma Knife, which seemed remarkably similar to what she had drawn several months earlier, i.e., light flowing into her brain.

I’m too tired and sad to write much more today.  I’m still in Tampa and I’m so grateful that our family was able to be here with Mom in her final days.  Austin is still here with me, because he is the sweetest of sweet peas and because we had a snafu getting his college textbooks sent so he could study for finals.  The books should be here today and then he has to write a paper and turn it in and then he leaves Saturday morning to return to Denver.

Thanks for all the support and love from my “virtual” friends and family.  I can’t tell you how much you guys mean to me.  Hopefully I will be more coherent and have something more meaningful to say the next time I write.  Or not.  Whatever.

xoxo

kim

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Filed under Cancer sucks., The Caregiver with the Dragon Tattoo, Uncategorized

Cascading Failures. Not just for breakfast anymore.

I’ve been trying to write something here for days — first I was all “Rehabellion, bitches!” and then I was all “oh, Rehaburgatory….” and then I was all “We are getting the fuck out of here and taking you home, mommy!” and now I’m all “Oh…nothing makes anything better.”

So.

We brought Mom home from the Rehabilitation Center on Wednesday afternoon.  On account of how on Wednesday morning she was all “these bitches are trying to kill me and I won’t survive another night here….” (she totally said “bitches”, y’all) and then she was all “no, I don’t want a drink of water and I’m not going to take a drink of anything until you get me out of here.”

So it seemed pretty clear that it was time to go ahead with the move home, even though Mom still has c.diff — a horrible and contagious infection that the rest of us would prefer not to get — oh, and none of the medical equipment had arrived yet.

C’est la vie — when Mom wants out, not much is going to stop her, regardless of her physical/mental condition.

It all came together around 4:00 p.m. Wednesday when the Hospice Nurse, the medical equipment (including the bed) and Mom all arrived within 15 minutes of one another.  I was a total mess, but Anna the Super Hospice Nurse had it all under control and Mom was safely tucked into her new hospital bed in 10 minutes flat. 

I was a little disappointed that Mom didn’t seem to notice how cute her room is — Sarah had moved a bunch of stuff out and decorated with Mom’s art and then I had run all over town and gotten cute bedding, etc.  just in time for her arrival.  But I figured she was just out of it from being doped up and then put on a stretcher and into an ambulance and driven all over town.

Turns out I was wrong.

The Hospice social worker who met with us at the Rehabilitation Center had said that many patients struggle in the Rehab Center because they want to be home where they can, I guess, die.

I completely rejected that thought, and decided that Mom needed to come home from the Rehab Center so she could rest and we could be in charge of her medications (no waiting on overburdened nurses who couldn’t hand out meds on time) and in no time she would be her perky, chatty (even if it is complete non-sense chatter) self.

Mom hasn’t “perked up” at all since coming home.  She rarely opens her eyes and is mostly non-responsive.  At the Rehab Center she kept her eyes closed, but listened closely to everyone’s conversations/the TV/the people next door.  Here she seems to be trying to listen sometimes, but isn’t nearly as interested.  When she does wake up, she always wants to know what time it is.

As hard as it is to say out loud, Mom is dying.

I thought that I was the least “in denial” person about Mom’s illness, but now that the proverbial shit has hit the fan, I may have been realistic intellectually, but emotionally I’m as “in denial” as pretty much everyone else.

It’s surreal.

Just a few weeks ago we were in Puerto Morelos and Mom was fatigued and a little goofy from the brain tumor, but she was able to walk, dress and feed herself.  She was able to sit on the beach next to me and enjoy watching the waves roll in.  And then everything changed in one instant!  One minute she was relaxing on her bed, then she tripped on her gauze gown while trying to get out of bed, landed on her hip and BUZZ – Game Over.

A fractured hip led to a midnight rescue flight out of Mexico, hip replacement surgery in Tampa and then the cascade starts — high blood pressure, low red blood cell count, blood transfusions, low potassium, UTI (from catheter), anti-biotics for fracture and UTI, severe constipation (dangerous because of her abdominal tumors), more pain meds (which cause constipation), increasing fatigue (as if that could get any worse), developing c.diff because of the anti-biotics used to prevent infection after surgery and the UTI infection, increased abdominal pain from c.diff., headaches (new symptom of brain tumors), increase in steroids to reduce brain swelling leads to further mental status changes (paranoia, anger), liver is further compromised and can’t handle all the drugs so blood albumin drops even lower, leading to more weakness and abdominal swelling, all the abdominal swelling makes it uncomfortable to eat, etc. etc.

Today Mom hasn’t eaten much of anything for over a week, she is taking in very few liquids, she has lost the ability to swallow so her meds are all liquid and she is asleep/semi-conscious 99% of the time.

Our family is gathering around her — my Aunt and Uncle arrived yesterday morning, then my sister-in-law and another cousin arrived late last night, my son and another cousin  flew all night last night and arrived this morning.  My brother arrives this afternoon.

This is not how I imagined “the end” with my Mom.  Maybe the real truth is that I hadn’t allowed myself to imagine “the end” at all.  Somehow I thought it would be less scary/sad and I would be more at peace with it.  When my Dad was dying, I was able to tell him that he should go, that I would be ok and so would everyone else.  And I hadn’t had any time to prepare for his death.  I’ve had SHITLOADS of time to prepare for Mom’s death and I still can’t find a way to go sit next to her, hold her sweet hand and tell her that it’s ok for her to go.  That I’m going to be alright and so is everyone else.  I’ve had all this time to be ready and I want to scream at the top of my lungs:

I’M NOT READY, DAMMIT!

It ain’t pretty, but it’s where I’m at right now.

Thanks for all your messages of support, it means a lot to me.  We also have a page on CaringBridge.com — http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/margueritebroyles where I post updates and people have written amazing things on the guestbook.  My Mom has touched a lot of people, including me.

xoxo

kim

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