Today’s post was supposed to be about World Oceans Day and sustainable fish. I know you can hardly contain yourself and if you hang on that post is coming, it’s just going to take a little time because there is so much to say and I haven’t really had the time to sit down and think about it.
Instead, I’m going to write about dying. Which sounds even less exciting than a post about fish! However, it’s on my mind, so bear with me.
There was a period of time when it seemed like everyone I knew was dying or had died. That’s mostly Dempsey melodrama, it was about 4 people that I was close to over about 8 years, it wasn’t exactly a plague but did it seem as if every time I was getting back to a ‘normal’, someone else was sick.
I was also for much of that time, depressed and involved with a bunch of people that were not good for me. The dead people didn’t help but they were only a small part of the problem.
Anyway, in the last eight or so years, I’ve got over myself, which is why when I read Jenny’s wrote a post about her dad, I was surprised about my reaction to it.
And on this journey to death there is a drawing in, a needing more, a silencing of a once-strong voice, a diluting of a dominant personality. There is a sadness at what is being lost and a deep gratitude for all that has been.
It’s a beautiful post, Jenny’s experience with her dad, is the opposite of my experience. Grandad died after he’d been in hospital for a week, Stef was diagnosed and died within 3 months, my Dad had a heart attack.
I have no experience or understanding of the gradual decline into dying. For me, having people in my life that are dying has been all about the stuff that needs to be done.
With Grandad it was about being with him, making sure that he was clean shaven and helping Mum. Grandad was 83, once he was told he was actually dying, he was very calm about it. Certain that he was going to a better place, he said goodbye and was at peace with it. Death didn’t hold any fear for him, being with him when he died wasn’t good exactly but it felt right.
Stef was different, he wasn’t even 40 yet and there were the twins and we kept getting overtaken by the cancer, we’d plan this and realise that no that wasn’t going to work because the cancer was somewhere else or he was having problems walking. About a week before he died, he had the ‘worse case scenario’ meeting with family and lawyers and put everything in place assuming he wasn’t going to wake up in the morning. That done, he asked us to refine the plan. He’d reached an understanding that there was never going to be enough time and we were just going to have to suck it up. There wasn’t a drawing in, he spent that week talking, telling the kids and everyone else how much he loved us and wanted to be around but that there would be a point were he would stop because he’d rather be dead than not know who he was. Stef died like someone who didn’t want to leave a party but knew that if he didn’t he’d end up being sick in the host’s bathroom and ruin the night.
Last night, I went to see Tina. She’s still Tina but has over the last couple of months gone from being sick to dying. Last night was the first time we’ve ever spoken about it, she said it could pretty much happen anytime. She was very Tina about it. Which boils down to “don’t be soppy about it” and for heavens sake “don’t emote all over me”
So I won’t. I’m going to remember what I said last week about tragic deaths. What’s happening to Tina is not nice and it feels like a tragedy but it’s not. Not for her, because she won’t bloody let it be, it’s sad for me because I will miss her and it’s terrible for Charles and Christina and Tom. However, it’s not about me, Tina wants her life to be about other things and so it is and so it will be. So I’m going to go and bake her a cake and take her some sourdough because those things would make her happy and drama and emotion would not.
I don’t know that this time is an invitation to patience and love, I don’t want T to be in this place and I can’t make anything better, there is nothing I can do to make any of this easier for T or Charles or their children.
What I remember about the time before Stef and Grandad died was that it wasn’t about me. It was about them and our relationship and the need to do the right thing. For Grandad it was knowing how to say goodbye, for Stef, looking after the things he couldn’t, for Tina it’s about getting on with it and hugs! So I’d better get a move on with that bread…