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Author Topic: trial run for those "first holidays"  (Read 1888 times)

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Online leatherman

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trial run for those "first holidays"
« on: November 20, 2008, 04:19:12 PM »
I don't know what I was expecting to get out of it; but I'm glad I went. You see, this past Sunday (Nov 16th) was the annual Memorial Service put on by Mercy Hospice in remembrance of all those who have passed away under their care in the last year (from July '07 to July '08).

Held in the chapel (actually it was the size of a small church) of the Catholic hospital (Mercy Medical Center), they gave a semi-catholic, inter-denominational-y, quasi-religious service that was actually quite nice. There were two short messages (one religious, of course; and one more about a time for remembering and a time for moving on) were interspersed with a few sad/inspirational musical numbers. The soloist had a beautiful voice and moved many to tears with a song entitled "light a candle".

Sitting by myself in one of the back pews, I was already sniffley and had tears trickling out (I just couldn't help it; but more about that in a moment* ;) ), so at least I didn't look out of place. Not that I was out of place at all. The chapel was filled with family members representing nearly all 175 patients who had passed through hospice care. Most of the people sitting around me had taken care of their loved ones back in their own homes, trying to make the passing as comfortable as possible - just like I had done with Jim.

Afterwards, the Hospice staff served refreshments of cake and punch. There was a sense of camaraderie in the air (a mere whiff of the camaraderie that is here at aidsmeds) amongst all of us strangers who had gone through such a similar tough situation. A local quilting group presented their annual gift, a green and tan basket weave design quilt with the names embroidered across the tan strips.

It was nice to chat with the ladies from Hospice again - well actually, I was accosted by all of them. LOL Helen, the aide (there are 3 Helens so it's very confusing LOL), greeted me in the hallway outside of the chapel with a big hug, and a cry of how well I was looking (perhaps because I still have a residual tan from this Summer, and that wonderful Ms Clairol had just turned my white hair back to a dark brown ROFL). She was the first to tell me how much the ladies had thought about me and kept me in their prayers long after they had finished their care of Jim.

After the service, as I took my first bite of cake (with a HUGE icing "fall flower", mmmm), Helen, the nurse, came at me with arms outstretched. A short-statured good-natured woman, she had already taught me that I had to bend over to receive her hugs - whether I wanted them or not. LOL

Luckily, I wasn't too far into my story to Helen (the nurse) about what had happened in the last 6 months, when Helen, the Hospice Director, came over too. More hugs later, I finished up my tale of woe, with Helen (the aide) listening in also, as she cut up more cake at a nearby table. Hearing of and seeing their concern for me, I was glad to allay their minds by telling them about moving on after losing the utilities, car, and house and getting into my new home.

Later on, after we had finished chatting and the ladies had gone back to visiting with the other guests, the Hospice Social worker (Suzanne, not a "Helen" and thankfully NOT another hugger LOL) took me aside and sat down with me. She too told me how I had stayed on the staff's mind during the last 6 months. It seems that Jim was actually the youngest patient they helped this past year, and the patient they had for the shortest amount of time. Having helped me with financial papers for Jim in the hospital, she also said they had been concerned as I was the survivor left in the most precarious situation after the death of their loved one.

Like I said, I don't know what I was expecting from attending this memorial, but I am glad that I went. As I mentioned earlier (*and now I'm finally getting back around to ;)), I was already in a sad mood going to this event. Just sitting in the pew, thinking about how I had come to attend yet another memorial service for one of my late partners, was enough to cause the breath to hitch in my chest as I tried not to let out-and-out sobs escape.

It's been 6 months now since Jim passed away, and though some material things have definitely improved in that time (it's such a weight off my mind to not be worrying whether the repo man is coming for the car or whether the sheriff will be coming to evict me), my emotional state is still quite a mess. Unfortunately, my nearly overwhelming depression is just "par for the course", as there's no med to fix the emotional/mental damage done by losing a loved one.

Once again, I find myself looking back to 14 years ago. Instead of the comparisons between Randy and Jim's situations, I'm looking at my life (newly "widowed") then compared to my life now. Oh, and it's far too easy to remember those bad times when I thought the constant reminders of my loss and my deep grief over losing Randy would never end. Now I'm right back in that same place, where everyday life is filled with a thousand reminders of Jim absence - though there are two major differences. After Randy's death, my health went down (as it had been doing) and within a year and half I was hospitalized with PCP, pretty certain my number was up. Through this whole year, my counts have unbelievably stayed stable. The other difference was that last time I had my best friend Jim to help me through. It's been kinda a double-whammy losing my partner of 8 yrs AND my best friend of 20 yrs - especially when it was he that pulled me through and out of those dark years. :'(

To be honest, besides being the first memorial to attend for Jim, I went to the Hospice gathering as kind of a "trial run". You see, those "first holidays" without Jim are right around the corner, and I'm already dreading them - and the few months following, when the first year anniversaries begin to roll around for those horrible days Jim spent in the hospital. I talked with my mom about this and decided that I will go home to visit the family in NC the weekend before Christmas, when they hold their annual get-together. Though the holidays are going to be bad, I think I'm going to be feeling (emotionally) even worse during the first part of year looking back on the events of last March and April.

I've always tried to be happy about turning older, since I was in the hospital with PCP on my 32nd bday and in the hospital with pneumonia on my 34th bday. Both times, the doctors were sure that I wasn't going to make it; but I did! So instead of moaning and groaning about getting older, I've always been ecstatic, because I never dreamed I'd keep having bdays for so many years. But just like last year's happiness was pushed aside because of Jim's serious condition, this year I just can't be all that happy either about turning older, as now I'm doing it without Jim.

Somehow I'll muddle through (what other choice do I really have anyway? LOL), as I did once before. Even without my friend to pull me through this time, Jim is still kinda here helping me on. I can hear his voice (from 14 yrs ago) in my head telling me about the reasons I have to live, to get out there and live the life that I've got, and to take my meds. I'm trying to listen to him. I've been sticking to my regimen 100% for nearly 3 weeks now, even though I've already had 4 of my average 6 incidents a month hanging over the toilet.

I kinda wish it was June already. Not because the latest batch of snow is starting to fall and that it's very cold here in Ohio (and my tan is fading  ;D); but so all these "first holidays" and "first anniversaries" would be over and done with.
leatherman (aka mIkIE)


chart from 1992-2013; updated 2/09/13  Reyataz/Norvir/Truvada

Offline BT65

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Re: trial run for those "first holidays"
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2008, 09:45:36 PM »
Mikie

As you know, within the last year I've lost both my parents.  Last X-mas was the first one without my mum and it was extremely hard to go through; my dad was still there though.  So, this X-mas will be the first one without either of them.  I just talk to them and remember the good times; and cry when I need to.  I know things (emotionally) will get better.  You know that also.  It's good you're going to be around family, that's really important.  And I think that Hospice service was great for you to go to.  It helps process the grief; you know, it gets it moving instead of it staying stuck.

Hang in there and happy holidays.
  Luv,
Betty
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Online leatherman

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Re: trial run for those "first holidays"
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2008, 12:18:03 AM »
And I think that Hospice service was great for you to go to.  It helps process the grief; you know, it gets it moving instead of it staying stuck.
That's it!  ;) That's why I was glad that I went, I just didn't have the right words to explain. It's hard to explain that sometimes it's good to "find" a reason to cry and let some of it out. Though I'm constantly reminded by life of what I've lost, I have to hold a lot of it in. It's quite unseemly to suddenly go on a crying jag out in public, like in the grocery store (which I did the first time I went for groceries after Jim died. I had no idea what for buy for just me.).

I lost my dad and grandfather since losing Randy; but I'm very lucky to still have my grandmother (who's 91 and still drives - better than her daughter, my mom, too ;) ), my mom, and my two brothers and their families. Last time I saw them (except for my Mom, who got here in time to say goodbye to Jim), was for my grandmother's 90th bday party in Aug 2007. The trip before that was two years previous when Jim and I went down for Christmas, and when I finally commited to Jim. I'll be flying down this Christmas on what would have be mine and Jim's 4th official anniversary. (gosh, there's just no way around all the reminders when you lose a loved one, is there? Especially when you lived together for so many years.)

I'll be thinking of you Christmas morning when I go to visit Randy's mom and hoping for a peaceful Christmas for us both, since it won't be very merry.

 :-* mikie
leatherman (aka mIkIE)


chart from 1992-2013; updated 2/09/13  Reyataz/Norvir/Truvada

Offline BT65

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Re: trial run for those "first holidays"
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2008, 08:37:06 PM »
Oh Mikie, I will be having a merry Christmas.  I'm flying to Phoenix on the 22nd of December and returning the 3rd of January (two days before school starts again).  I have a sister out there.  She plans on taking me to a few spots; I'm looking forward to it.

And I'll remember my mum's molasses cookies, and my dad drumming.  And it will be merry for sure.  You enjoy it too.
  Luv,
Betty
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Online leatherman

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Re: trial run for those "first holidays"
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2008, 11:53:58 PM »
ah, see how smart we are? ;) I see we're both heading south for the holidays.  ;D Sounds like you'll have a nice trip visiting your sis. Have you been to Phoenix before? Have a safe trip! And I'll hope no snow to delay either flight. ;) (I landed once back in OH on Christmas Eve, as they were closing the airport because of snow. That was cutting it close; but I was back home in time for Christmas with Jim  :D :-*)

I'm only going to NC dec 18-22 for the weekend before Christmas. I know I could stay longer; but ever since being away for college, I'm a person that gets a little homesick. Plus I miss the boyz (my 3 cocker spaniels) too much to ever stay away much longer than that.

How's the weather for you over there in IN right now? here in OH, just below Cleveland and Lake Erie, the bands of lake-effect snow are moving through. I "threatened" to take sn@w (that's a "bad" word in my house and we don't say it or spell it. LOL just like the word p@psi. this is a 2-liter a day Coke household ;)) with me to NC for the nieces and nephews. I would take it too, but I'm afraid it'll melt in my luggage and just get me busted by homeland security for more than whatever-ounces it is of liquid in my carry-on. ROFL

As you can see, I still can laugh sometimes too.  ;D You know, this kind of depression, from losing a loved one (especially one that you lived in the same house with, I would expect) is almost a bi-polar condition. Sometimes I can go from having just the best day, laughing with friends, etc, and suddenly realize that Jim isn't there. That's an instant downer. But other times, I can spend days in the dumps, half-weepy, dragging around the house swathed in memories of what was, and then get visited by friends (bless my OhioFamily for the support and love they have given me for nearly 23 yrs), a call from home, or a supportive IM from someone here, and things start "feeling" better. I can't miss the opportunity either to give my boyz credit for pulling me out of a slump. I swear every day one of them does something to make me laugh. (Happiness truly is a warm puppy! to misquote Mr. Schulz) Of course, a lot of times when I'm down, life comes sweeping through anyway. Most times, it's just impossible to stay gloomy when you're out and about doing things, and handling your life.

well, now you've got me wanting some of my OhioMom's Christmas cookies. I wonder if I can con her into making some ginger snaps before Thanksgiving? he he he If not, I'll just wait for the upcoming pumpkin pies. Ah! You are right again Betty. Not everything about the holidays are sad (though I'm still not putting up a tree this year. I didn't after losing Randy either), there's still some "merry" in there. mmmm cookies and pie and a trip back home where it's warmer and NOT sn@wing. ;D

   :-* mikie
who's feeling just a touch bi-polar in this post  :D

ps no, I'm not making fun about being bi-polar. A former roommate was and both current my housemates are! That's why sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't be taking some of their meds too. LOL
leatherman (aka mIkIE)


chart from 1992-2013; updated 2/09/13  Reyataz/Norvir/Truvada

Offline BT65

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Re: trial run for those "first holidays"
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2008, 08:38:12 AM »
Mikie,

We got blasted with snow yesterday, 8 inches of it.  Yuck.  I don't mind maybe 1/2 an inch of it, but that's the extent of my liking.

Yes, I've been to Phoenix before, twice.  Once when I was 16, then again when I was like 25, with my daughter, who at the time was 8 (now I'm 43, so it's been awhile).  My sister had heard that Disneyland let people in for free who had terminal illnesses.  I contacted them, they sent a paper to my doctor to fill out, he did and faxed it back.  What ended up happening was that myself, my daughter, my sister, her daughter and foster daughter all got into Disneyland for free.  I'm not sure if they still do that or not.

I'll be making fudge next week or the week after.  I'm going to try a couple new recipes, and make "Fannie May fudge," which I always make.  It's full of lots of chocolate (mmmmmm, sugar).  I'm sure we'll both be full Christmas night from all the good food we'll be consuming. 

I go through times where I'm happy, then I have a good cry in the evening.  That's perfectly normal.  And I wouldn't have it any other way, because it helps let go of some pent up grief. 

We'll be alright.  Sometimes it doesn't seem like it, but we always end up alright don't we.  BTW, I'm not putting up a tree.  I just don't want the hassle this year.
 Luv,
Betty
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline bear60

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Re: trial run for those "first holidays"
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2008, 10:53:03 AM »
Have a nice Thanksgiving, Mikie.
You too Betty.
Poz Bear Type in Philadelphia

 


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