Saturday, March 12, 2011

whispers of an infinite yes

It was ten years ago today that my father in law passed. It still seems strange that I will never again hear his cornball jokes or his off-key singing, or clutch my heart in terror as he backs the big sedan down the driveway without looking in the mirror.

Then two and half weeks later, we lost my dad. This time we drove to the funeral, twelve hours across the wind-swept prairie, Saskatchewan a never-ending wall of white.

March 2001 was a really shitty month.

There is a lot of death in the air today. How can there not be, with thousands of people missing in Japan?

But there are older deaths too, passages that I just recently learned of. Three of our old gang from junior high and high school, two from the same street that I lived on, who all succumbed to cancer in their forties. I lost three friends at the end of university as well, but they were all taken by accidents - cars, drownings. It's how you die in your twenties.

Like the man said, our existence has serious side effects.


Anonymous said...

Having attended a number of deaths and watching families reactions I wish that our final moments with that person was more dignified. Often the person is being treated and handled in a way I wish they didn't see see us cutting open their mother's clothes to do CPR and attach the defibrillator pads. I wish they didn't see the blood coming out of their father from either end. This is partly why I wish people chose to die in hospital rather than at home. Of course that isn't always perfect either. When my dad died in the hospital it took several minutes for the doctor to come in and pronounce so they could shut off the "machines" We stood there in silence while the respirator continued to operate, the mechanical sound of it's bellows continuing to move up and down while we stood in silence. That bothered my sister for some time.

Anonymous said...

I'm coming to the point where I have seek out ways to celebrate amidst the mourning. It's fitting and provides a necessary balance and does a great honor to those we've lost.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That must be one of the most difficult aspects of your work, Kelly. There must be a very fine line to walk between providing urgent care and maintaining dignity of the patient. And, as you say, in the hospital, there is the added indignity of the machines and of being left to wait in silence. I think we tend to romanticize the moment of death in our minds, but so few of us experience that gentle slipping away, holding the hands of loved ones.

Absolutely, Leazwell. When the departed is young, it's harder to remember that there is need for celebration amidst the grieving, but it's so important.

Anonymous said...

Life is fleeting, and that makes it all the more precious ... Thank you for writing with meaning and heart. My husband and I both lost our fathers, too, and they were way too young in my opinion. It's hard, huh?

Please feel free to read my blog, too. Lots on the meaning of life, death, what is happening in Japan, etc.

Enjoy every moment of this here fragile life, and keep writing! :)


John Mutford said...

I enjoyed hearing about the cornball jokes and sedan. I'm glad the good memories still manage to rule over the unhappy ones. Thanks for the reflective post.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thanks, Anitra, it never hurts to have a reminder that we need to appreciate what we have, while we have it.
Of course I will come to over to read your words.

We were left with lots of good memories, John, many of them making us laugh uproariously at the expense of the deceased, I am rather ashamed to say.

Allison said...

I'm like John, I enjoyed the sedan part to this post. Perhaps because I always go to the humour to cope, I'm not sure. But recalling those jokes and happy memories just make it easier sometimes. We also talk about those who have left us a lot in my family, which definitely keeps them alive. If only in the mind.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to leave the wrong impression. Compared to nurses and doctors in the hospital we attend very few deaths and other incidents like I described. Most of the medical calls we attend are very routine. The amount of time we spend with the patients and families is very brief. I'm selfishly glad for that. Even so, after the call we go back to the hall or go home and life goes on. Honestly, I recall very few of the faces of the people I've met that way.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Never discount the power of humour, Al, but I certainly don't have to tell you that. I like to think that the departed would rather enjoy us having a laugh at their past escapades. I know I would.

I'm glad for that, Kelly. I know a lot of medical personnel who thrive on the rush of life and death situations, but I certainly wouldn't.