This is our last goodbye

This is our last goodbye
I hate to feel the love between us die
But it’s over
Just hear this and then I’ll go
You gave me more to live for
More than you’ll ever know

Jeff Buckley

199.5 hours since my Mum passed away and we laid her to rest and said our very last goodbye.

carnations

I’ve been dreading today.

The whole experience has been devastating – seeing her in ICU, seeing her cling to life, her suffering, saying our goodbyes (numerous times) and then her eventual passing.  But somehow the funeral felt the most painful of all.

To some extent her death didn’t feel real. And I’ve tried not to dwell on it, I’ve thrown myself into work, I’ve tried to push through….

But the funeral meant actually acknowledging the fact that I will never see or talk to her again.

And it was hard.

Dad picked the most beautiful, sad and haunting songs.  “My love will go on”, “Time to say goodbye”, “Have I told you lately”… man I’d tear up at the best of times hearing those without the circumstances!

But as hard as that way, the main thing I felt, and still do, was the love and support around me.

Today I had everyone that mattered to me most in the world around me (even Mum).

There were my best friends, people I’ve grown up with, cousins, “second families”, men I considered to be 2nd dad’s.

It’s sobering to think that sometimes we only see those that we love most in situations like these.

I do wish it had been in better circumstances but my heart swelled to see them – some of who I hadn’t seen in almost 30 years.

Maybe the stand out moment for me today was seeing someone I didn’t realise was coming. … And it was the best thing in the world to see him.

Steve was my best friend for a long time – we first met almost 20 years ago through work.  I loved him dearly – so much so I asked him to be my “best man” when I got married.  I always have been a bit eccentric lol.  He also threw me my hen’s night and my baby shower.  As life often happens though we drifted apart as each of us were busy in our own lives.  11 years had passed since I last saw him, and to have him there – unexpectedly – was something I will always cherish.

There was also my previous boss Mark who I love dearly.  As well as my parents best friends Jan and Gary (who I consider second parents and whom I grow up with). And so many other people I hold dear.

The service itself was beautiful. But to see those I love most, and to spend time with them and have their support was priceless ♥

Megan & Dad 2

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Limbo

I feel like I’ve been dragging myself through the weekend – particularly today.

We are still very much in the midst of organising her funeral and it’s been difficult.  I really don’t want to think about what I’m going to wear, about what we will do with the flowers afterwards.  Or to pick out the photos we will have displayed.  It broke my heart today to read the eulogy Dad wrote (and asked me to proof).  And to hear the songs he has picked out to play (and I might add I will never be able to listen to again lol).

It’s a process though.

I really wish I could do more to help my Dad.  He’s so bitterly lonely without my Mum.  And not surprisingly – every moment of the last 50 years they have spent together.  They were always a package deal – they would never go anywhere without the other.

Dad came to visit me yesterday and it was the very first time I have ever had him come to my house without my Mum.  He mentioned how lonely the 45 minute drive was without her.

I went to visit him today, and he was extremely reluctant for me to leave.  I know how bitterly painful it is to feel all alone and crave people around you.

It’s going to be hard for us to move forward.  It’ll definitely be a whole new reality for us.

But I’m also grateful with the much closer relationship my Dad and I are forging.  I love my Dad dearly, but I’ve always been closest to my Mum.  I would ring her 4 or more times a day for a chat, and if he happened to answer we’d say a brief hi but he soon put her on.  We never chatted much.  In the last 20 years we’ve never really spent any time together just the two of us.  In fact I can’t think of a single instance.

I can see we are going to need each other though from now on – particularly he will need me.

And it’s a nice feeling to be able to do that for him ♥

1985

65 hours later

It was an emotional day today….

Today I picked out my mum’s coffin.

It was so surreal.  And heart wrenching.

Sitting with the Funeral Director – talking about her life, picking out her flowers, discussing what we would dress her in.

10 days ago life was “normal”.  The world had not yet tilted on it’s axis.  10 days ago and I would never in my worst nightmares have thought we were preparing to bury my Mum.  That I would be discussing what I would wear to her funeral.  That I would visit my parents apartment, and she would not be there.

That was hard.  Her spirit was so strong there.  And it was like she was still around.  I only lasted about 10 seconds before I burst into tears.  And then I walked into their bedroom – to help my Dad get dressed – and I saw their bed.

He had tried hard to make it himself.  But it looked nothing like what Mum would have done.  Bless him.

And then I cried very hard.

And I looked at the coffin’s at the funeral home and it was a physical pain.  To imagine my Mum in one of them.

To accept – sort of – that my Mum is never coming back.

My Dad is broken-hearted.  50 years together, and his soul mate is gone.

In my entire life I never ever saw them have a cross word.  Never.  They were one of those married couples that I always aspired to be.  And as their child grossed me out lol.  So many times Mum would be washing the dishes and Dad would come up behind her to smooch her.  Even in later years (just before I left home at 22) they were still doing it.

Dad is trying to cope.  He proudly told me how he ironed his own pants this morning (the first time in his life he has ever used an iron).  He was talking about washing the towels in the next few days.  He was discussing buying himself some groceries.

It was heartbreaking.

More so when he told us he’d decided Mum’s funeral song… “Have I told you lately” by Van Morrison.

And he couldn’t even get the song title out before he dissolved into heart-wrenching sobs.

I’m not sure my heart will ever be in one piece again.

I miss you Mum.

 

Mum and Dad young

Working through my grief … literally

Over the course of my Mum’s time in intensive care, and her passing, I’ve worked solidly.

I’ve had a few people surprised by that, and I know it seems amazing that I can even do it.  Though it’s not to say I haven’t struggled!

I’ve been blessed though with my job.

I’m an EA, Office Manager, and Events Manager.  I work very long hours (6am to 8pm every day, and weekends), but it’s extremely rewarding.

I juggle so much on a daily basis.  This year already I’ve run 8 events (completely on my own).  That in itself is a full time job.  So is organising my Manager lol.

I’ve been very lucky to get to where I am in my career.  And I love my industry (Veterinary) passionately.  I’ve spent 12 years in the industry and have learnt so much and made so many great friends and contacts.

I’m also proud to work in this industry.  It’s a buddhist belief that you should not have a career/work in a job that causes harm and suffering to others.  And my job is about helping other people, and that’s a great feeling.

I have a lot of responsibility and travel in my role, but also a lot of influence.  I love what I am able to achieve.  I love the meetings, negotiations, networking, relationship building etc that comes with my role.

I also love the rapport I have with my boss.  He’s slightly younger than me (a young’n) and we are constantly joking with each other and making each other laugh.  It’s important to have that connection between an EA and GM.

Even though it’s a hard time in my own life, it’s a pleasure to work, and to keep busy and productive.  And I would never jeopardise my job by not giving 150%.

I’m also at a stage in my life where I am very confident in my career, abilities and strengths.

One day soon that GM role will have my name on it 🙂

Megan at work

41 hours

Today is day 2 of a world without my Mum.

I’m not sure how to feel about how I feel today.

I felt like I saw a sign from my Mum this morning.

I’d woken up through the night needing to go to the bathroom.  Not unusual but I must have been sound asleep because it took me a while to wake up.  After that I wandered out into the kitchen to get some painkillers, let my neighbours cat out of my house (long story lol), and get a drink.  I thought to check the time…. and it was dead on 2:30am.

2.30am

2:30am…. the exact time my mother passed away 24 hours before.  Not a huge coincidence I know, but I felt like it was her way of saying hello to me.

Anyway after getting some sleep last night I felt a bit more human today.

And I was blessed with so much kindness and love today.

I stopped at my local coffee shop and was once again shown so much kindness and love by the two girls that work in there.  I then went to the supermarket to buy them flowers (to say thank you), and told the lady there about my Mum passing.  She gave me the biggest hug, and shared her own story with me about the loss of her husband 7 years earlier.  I was really touched to share that intimate moment with her.

More hugs were given as I gave the coffee shop girls their flowers.  And another lady I know from the community came in and gave me hugs and support.

And I was able to work somewhat effectively today.  I spoke to my boss 8 times (I think he’s missed me lol).  We have a great banter and shared quite a few laughs over the course of the day.  That was also a blessing.

I shared memories of Mum with my Dad, and photos of her.

I was given 2 bunches of flowers, and a beautiful beautiful sympathy card.  A friend dropped in with one of those bunches of flowers and gave me more hugs.

I feel very weary, today but strangely calm and at peace.

It’s only been 41 hours but I’m able to think of my Mum fondly and speak of her without dissolving into tears.  And I’m worried about what that says about me?  Maybe it’s part of the process.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a mess again.  Or maybe I’ve cried so much over the past week that I have no more tears left.

But maybe being strong (for my Dad and brother) is what my Mum would want ♥

A farewell to arms

At 2:30am today, Wednesday 21st June, my Mum passed away.

It was the final chapter in an extremely difficult 7 days.

I’m beyond devastated.  She died a horrible death, and she suffered greatly.  As did we all.

But I can also see the blessings.

The one thing that has really stood out to me in this last week is the willingness of my friends to offer sincere and heartfelt sympathy.  I’ve been so humbled by that.  I’ve received so many offers of help – from close friends through to people I’ve just had the pleasure of meeting recently.

It’s touched me deeply.  And it’s made the most enormous difference to feel that people care and are there to help me.

I’ve been so changed by this whole experience.  But by that in particular.  Just the difference that heartfelt support and kindness can make in times of extreme grief and suffering.

I also just feel very blessed by the people I have in my life now.  I know in my heart I was meant to meet these people when I did and to have them around me at this time.

I’m so grateful too that my Mum died seeing me in a good place.  That was always a fear of mine – that my parents would pass away before seeing me with my “crap together”.

I’m also immensely grateful I was able to say goodbye to her properly.  A lot of people don’t have that opportunity.  There was nothing that I didn’t say that I wished I had.

And perhaps the greatest blessing of all…

The final time I walked away I wasn’t crying, I was laughing.  Mum was looking good, breathing on her own, and said to me – without the tube and using her own voice – that she loved me.  And I walked away smiling.

It was meant to happen that way ♥

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518400 seconds

There are 518400 seconds in 6 days.

And I feel like I have been acutely aware of each single one of those seconds.

I look back on the Meg of a week ago and I already feel like I don’t recognise her anymore.

I’m not sure if it’s shock, or trauma, or both.  But everything seems different to me now.  It’s almost like I’ve suffered so much in the last 6 days that I’ve become a completely different person.  It’s hard to connect with anyone at the moment.  Like I’m speaking a different language to everyone else.  Or I’m from another planet.  I’m finding myself staring blankly at everything like I don’t recognise it anymore.

I had to actually look back on my last blog post to see what had already happened.  Hard to believe it was only a few days ago since I posted.

Yesterday my Dad told my brother and I that we had to meet him at the hospital.  That the doctor wanted to talk to us as a family and that we had to make a decision.

That decision was whether to take my Mum off life support and let her die, or take her off and put her on assisted breathing.  Permanent 24 hour a day care assisted breathing.  Against her wishes.

Even as I type this I’m sitting dumbfounded at the fact we had to make that kind of decision.  I don’t understand how life got to this point.

I took a leadership role within the family and lead us to a decision.  A decision to keep her alive.  And then I came home and went back to work.

I.went.back.to.work.

I don’t remember signing up for this when I became an adult.

How on earth could we live with the decision – whichever decision we made.

How much stress and grief can one person live with.  I feel like I’m constantly testing that.

And so we got to this morning.  Tuesday morning 20th June.

The doctors asked us all to be there while they took my Mum off life support and put her on assisted breathing (as we directed).

Except. Except…

My Mum had been taken off the sedation and she was able to make a decision.  And that was a very very firm decision to be taken off life support and be allowed to pass away peacefully.  No more ventilator.  No permanent tracheotomy.  No more breathing tubes. No more.

We sat with her for 3 hours.  We held her hand, we cried, we said goodbye to her.

She was able to use an etch-a-sketch to say goodbye to us.

 

And at exactly 2pm we left the room.  The 4th “final goodbye” in the last 6 days.

At 2pm the doctors took my Mum off life support….

…and she started breathing on her own.  She had less than 10% chance of breathing on her own, but she did.

I wish that was the end of the story, and that it was a happy ending.  But tonight the heartache continues.  If she starts to struggle to breathe – at any point – they will sedate her so she can pass away.

518400 seconds.  It feels like it could have been 518400 years.

 

Sense of humour – level = expert

In my last blog post I wrote about stopping my anti-depressants.

Life has a very wry sense of humour.

I stopped my anti-depressants last Friday….

On Wednesday my Mum went in for what should have been a routine surgery.  Should have been.  I got a call from my Dad afterwards that all went well and she was okay.  She’d gone in to have her lungs drained of fluid (3rd time she’s had this done in recent times).

An hour later Dad rang me crying.  She’d gone into a coma and they didn’t expect her to wake from it.  They’d also found extensive lung rigidity indicative of advanced lung cancer (mesothelioma).

I raced up to the hospital in shock.  She came out of the coma, but was on life support.  We didn’t know if she’d make it through the night.

Thursday (yesterday) I went up to see her.  Only to be met by my Dad saying that she would never be able to breathe on her own again, and that we needed to say goodbye to her.

How do I even find the words to describe yesterday…

I’ve never known a pain like it.

Obviously we all expect our parents to die one day, and as they get older that becomes more timely.  But I don’t think it’s ever something you can really accept.  It’s like it’s something that happens to everyone else’s parents, but was not allowed, COULD NOT be allowed to happen to your own.  It feels like your parents are special, mean more, are closer to you.

So many tears were shed yesterday.  So many so that I can barely see today.

The pain was physical and visceral.  Seeing my brother crying.  Seeing my Dad crying (I’ve never seen him cry before).

Seeing my Dad say goodbye to my Mum after almost 50 years together.

Mum June 2017 2.jpg

Saying goodbye to my Mum and walking out of that room was the most painful thing I’ve ever done in my life.  Believing it was the last time I would ever see her.

I was very blessed that I did get to see her again today.  She’s currently in surgery in last ditch attempt to save her life.  To see if they can remove the hardened lung tissue so that she can breathe on her own again.

Time is standing still right now.

I feel like a different person than I was Wednesday morning.  I am a different person.

As is usually the case great growth has been thrust upon me.

I just see the world differently now.  I am even more aware of people’s suffering.

I may have started this blog as a direct result of my own experience with divorce, and the pain and suffering I went through.  And the desire to help others with their own suffering.

And the events of this week have only made my heart even bigger and my empathy even deeper.

Maybe in the end that’s really the purpose of the suffering – to further my empathy and ability to help others.

PS You have a very weird sense of humour universe.

And the journey continues …

I’m not sure it’s the best time to return to my neglected blog, however there’s never a bad time to take stock of life.

Today is day 4 of my weaning off anti-depressants.

It’s a day of suffering – mental and physical.  But also a day of reflection.

It’s certainly not the first time I’ve attempted to stop taking them. And maybe once again I’ll have to admit defeat.  But maybe, just maybe I won’t.

Life is different now.

It surprises me how much I have grown and changed in recent months.

Since my ex-husband left 7 years ago I have gone through massive personal growth.  A lot of it I did kicking and screaming and fighting.  Some of it was done very purposely (like starting this blog).  Recent growth however seemed to sneak up on me.

I was particularly thinking of this yesterday.  I spent a day at home with my nearly 12yo – reading, and cooking, and doing not much of anything.  Which doesn’t sound like anything special.  But it was huge for me.  That sort of day would have been my worst nightmare not long ago  A day without keeping busy and occupied every single second? Emmy and book Arrghhhhhh.

But yesterday I sat in my beanbag and read.  With my neighbours cat curled up in my lap.  My son playing his xbox near me.  The sound of rain falling outside.  And my thoughts drifting past.

Since I started coming off my antidepressants I can actually feel.

After 20 years of being on them (on and off) I can start to feel again.  Sadness, and happiness, and reflection.  I felt a quiet mourning and loss for the life I thought I had.  And a sincere gratitude for the new life I do now have.

I feel a sincere love and gratitude for my friends.  Those friendships I’ve made in recent years – the coffees and breakfasts we have shared all together.  The laughs, and time spent together.  I can never put a value on that.

I feel excited for the future, and the plans ahead.  Travel, and adventure and fun.  And happiness and hope.

But most of all, I just FEEL.

I have gone through a lot in the last 7 years.  Most of it self inflicted due to poor decisions I have made.  And I am guessing a lot of it because they were lessons I needed to learn (the hard way).

And I would imagine that life still has a lot of lessons and challenges in store for me yet.

But there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.

And I can only hope and pray that life continues in this way.