I’m Not Okay But I’ll Be All Right #grief

I am going to take a hiatus from blogging and writing online. Not that I’ve been doing much of either lately but why not make it official.

Here’s the deal: my sister Shirley is dying. The sister with Parkinson’s. The sister who has been dodging health curveballs most of her adult life. The only one of us four who went on to have her own family: three sons and eight grandchildren. The sister who wrote letters to me after I left home. Long letters that I’ve collected in a box for over thirty years.

We visited my family in May for a few days. I hadn’t seen Shirley in almost seven years and wasn’t prepared for how Parkinson’s had altered her. Cognitively, she was still with it. We had conversations, cracked jokes. Still, I was terrified watching her walk about because she was a fall risk. I’d hover, sometimes holding my breath until she sat down and was, in my view, safe.

A few weeks ago, she was admitted to a local hospital for a UTI. Then she was discharged. Then she was readmitted because the antibiotics hadn’t worked. And it has just gone downhill from there. One week ago, we were all worried about her having an antibiotic-resistant infection. The doctors proposed sending her to an infectious disease center. Before they could do that, they had to do a couple more tests to determine if anything else was causing the infection.

They found a large mass in her abdomen; a biopsy confirmed it was cancer.

Here’s where the rage kicks in. Shirley has been under the care of SEVERAL doctors for SEVERAL years and yet this large mass just appeared? The attending doctor suggested that it might have been growing in her abdomen for at least a year. Seriously?! 

But it’s too late for rage. The mass is there, it’s malignant, and treatment is not recommended because of her condition. She hasn’t been responsive for a while so her husband and sons have to make all the decisions. She’ll receive hospice care at the hospital. 

I don’t want her to go, but I know we have no choice. I only hope that someday I’ll have the strength to write about her and share my memories of her. 

I’ve been inspired and comforted by this essay by Eileen Vorbach Collins: My Grief Goes On: A Letter to My Late Daughter. I can and will grieve for Shirley as long as I’m alive. Just like I still grieve for so many other friends, family members, and furred children that I’ve lost. I haven’t lost the memories, though. The memories are my comfort.

Comments are closed because I need to step away for now. I can imagine what you all would say, though, and, believe me, I appreciate it. 

So now, find a loved one–whether furred or hairless or both–and hug them tight.