Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Monday, February 28, 2011

Learning to say goodbye

I spent most of yesterday, Sunday at the Opera House.  I got there at 11:00, helped to finish setting up tables, which didn't take much because Jack and Jan had got there @ 10 and done most everything.  So Ms Moon and Marcy and I did the last little bit and then ran over to Subway for lunch in my new ride with the top down.  As much fun as it is to drive, it is even more fun to drive it with friends along.  Back at the Opera House I mixed mimosas and then took them around to give out to our lunch crowd there to see the show.  We had a great crowd for lunch, but we had a record number of people for a matinee.  And it was a great show.

After the show, Ron had bought pizzas and we had mimosas left over after I miscalculated the amount of mimosas needed.  Then Mary, Michelle, Judy and I headed over to Ms Moon's house for martinis.  This was Michelle, our newest adopted member into the stage company, first trip to the Moon casa.  We took a tour around the yard and then through the house.  I love the tours and try to never miss one.  There is always something amazing to see at the Moon's.

I finally got home last night after 7, and I was exhausted.  I called Dad and spoke to him for a couple of minutes.  He was worried about me wearing myself out, so got off the phone in a record amount of time for one of Dad's and my phone calls.  I am so fortunate to have my Dad.  He is terribly politically incorrect and says things that can often hurt someones feelings.  But as Mary, Marcy, Jack and I were talking, it appears that it is common with people their age and experience.  Things that they never would have said 40 years ago, they don't seem to even hear.  Dad has been so supportive of me, not just now, but throughout my entire life.  This is very hard for him to have to watch me go through this.  And I am grateful to have him in my corner.  I miss my Mother, but I still have a piece of her with me, and with Dad, so it helps.

Then I talked to Larry's cousin Bonnie.  Bonnie is Larry's favorite cousin, shoot, Bonnie is one of Larry's favorite people in the entire world, and she loves Larry with equal admiration.  We talked about where Larry is and how he is doing.  It is so hard to watch him slowly fade away, it is even harder to tell someone who loves Larry so much about what to expect when she sees him.  She is trying to get there today.  She asked me if she should wait.  I said no.  He has good days and bad days, and no one can tell her which she will find.  We both held back tears as we talked, but it was so special to talk to someone who knows Larry as well as I do, knows about his history and loves him.  I know that he will be so happy to see her.  

Visiting with Larry last week was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Our history goes back 25 years.  Twenty five years filled with love and adventure and heartache and fights.  It was a complicated life together.  We shared so much, and yet, there are times in that time where we were so different and so far apart in so many ways.  But doesn't that sound like a typical marriage?  I am sure that is why you say, "for better or worse, rich or poor, in sickness and in health".  And yes, we did get divorced, but that didn't seem to matter.  And now that he is so sick, none of the bad matters any more. It is hard to clip someones toe nails, to give him a partial sponge bath, to feed him each bite and encourage him to eat, to drink.  I spent time talking to the volunteers telling them that his favorite thing to drink is Welch's grape juice.  His favorite thing to eat is vanilla ice cream, mushed up with a little milk to make it like soft serve.  How can you hold a grudge, how can you not forgive when you are sharing this kind of intimacy with someone.  

And every once in a while he is able to form a sentence.  A full clear sentence.  And each time it takes me by surprise and leaves me at a lost.  On Saturday morning  I sat there with him, holding his hand.  I got up in the bed and laid next to him and held him tight.  I told him that everything would be fine, that I loved him.  He could whisper back each time, "I love you."  But then he asked me if I believed in heaven.  I stared at him wordlessly.  The moment passed and I never answered him.  I wasn't sure if I had heard him correctly.  Had he really been able to ask me that, so clearly, when he can not even ask for a glass of water?!?!

I spent every minute I could with him.  I ate very little,  I was exhausted at night, but did not sleep well, restless and worried.  I was wearing myself out, using reserves I need for myself to keep myself healthy.  But it did not matter, I went there because I knew he needed me.  There was no going back.  Saturday as I tore myself away, crying, I drove back home.  

I called Ms Moon and told her how things had gone.  I remembered two of the three questions he had asked me on Saturday, but I could not remember the third question.  After I hung up with her and continued my drive I forgot the other two questions, but it hit me hard that he had asked me did I believe in heaven.  

What do you say?  He obviously did not want a deep theological discussion.  He wanted reassurance.  I have strong feelings about my beliefs of the afterlife.  He does not want to hear that, he wants reassurance that he is a good person.  And I lost that opportunity to reassure him that he is a good person.  And yes, I do think he has a good heart.  The Larry I first met was one of the kindest, sweetest people I had ever met.  His heart is good and kind.  The drugs and alcohol affected that and pushed the sweet, kind, loving person back into a corner.  But even at his worst in his addictions he would be taken of advantage of because of his kindness.  

Don't get me wrong, if you had asked me any of this a year ago, I would have struggled to find anything kind to say about him, but a lot has happened in this past year.  To both of us.  Does he still have that addictive personality?  Oh yes, if you leave drugs out that he can get his hands on, he is going to take them.  I am sure that if you offered him a rock of crack, he would snatch it up immediately, well, emotionally, not physically, because he can not snatch anything right now.  He is not perfect.  I am not perfect.  We are an accumulation of our entire lives.  The good, the bad, the sweet, the kind, the awful, the mean, the bad choices, the smart choices.  

When I got home I called Richard and asked him when he went up to visit Larry that afternoon, to call me so that I could talk to Larry on the phone.  I laid down to take a nap and to rest before the long night of the play.  No sleep or rest came to me.  

Richard called and put the phone up to Larry's ear.  I told him that I wasn't sure if he had asked me if I believed in heaven, but I was going to tell him what I thought anyway.  I told him that I believe that everyone with a good heart goes to heaven.  And that Larry has a good heart.  I told him that I thought it was a place where everyone you loved and has gone before you is waiting for you, and all they want to do is love you.  That I knew he would be waiting for me when my time comes.  And that everything would be fine.  Not to worry about anything, to relax and know that he was going to heaven and that everything was going to be OK.  I told his cousin Bonnie about this discussion and she said that she would also talk to him and tell him that he was a good person and would be going to heaven to be with his Mother and Father, his grandparents, his friends that have died before him.  That he would be surrounded by love, and that everything will be OK.  I am so glad that I took the moment to tell him that.  I am so relieved for him that Bonnie is going to talk to him about it.  We all want to be reassured that we are good people.  We all want to be loved.  Basic needs.  And at the end of his life, Larry has been reduced to his basic needs.  He is not capable of much anything beyond basic needs.  He is able to sleep.  He needs help eating, cleaning himself, communicating, thinking.  Basic needs.

I seriously had thought I had put myself aside to focus on Larry.  To be there for him, for his needs.  And yet, I have been given another wonderful gift.  I have a new perspective on my life with Larry.  I remember the good and the bad, and it all is part of who we are, and what our lives were.  But the good is starting to outweigh the bad.  

I was given the gift to feel needed, to be able to do for someone else.  I rely on so many people now to help me in just about every aspect of my life.  I need their support, their love.  I am able to take this journey because of my friends and family.  I wanted to give that to Larry.  

And he gave back to me.  A smile every time I walked into the room.  A "I love you" every time I said it to him.  I was able to lay next to him and feel that closeness we had once taken for granted, what a gift.  To feel close, to feel an intimacy of closeness of love.  Sex is not a part of this relationship.  It has been a long time since the trust was there to have that part of our relationship.  But what we have gotten back is so much more important, and will last so much longer.  

And when I die, do I believe in what I told him?  Not exactly, but in certain ways, it is exactly the same.  I do believe that we are all made up of energy.  I do believe that energy can not be created or destroyed.  I do believe that strong emotions are strong energy, and if we all return to being pure energy, then really it is just semantics.  Maybe that is why people see a "light" when they die.  After all, light is a form of energy.  

I know that I will go see Larry again if he is still alive after the play is over.  I will not stay as long.  I will make a run down one evening and probably come back home the next day.  After all, I have a lot to do at work.  And we still have one more weekend of Steele.  And then we have the cast party at Marcy and Fred's on Sunday, and auditions for the Murder Mystery.  Then the second weekend is the garden circle meeting.  Yes, my plate is full.  And yes, it does wear me out sometimes, but I love being a part of the Stage Company.  And I love the garden circle.  And I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to give someone the gift of caring and need and attention that one day I will need to ask from others.  

I am learning more about myself, I am anxious to get started on this new drug I am supposed to take.  I thought I would be on it by now.  I called and left a message with the Bobbie, Dr. M's nurse asking about it.  It will come.  And I have had an email from a dear friend who is a doctor who gave me a little more insight on the drug and possible treatments for my cancer.  Thank you Michael.  

And as always, I am grateful for all these opportunities.  To love and be needed, to have those who love me, and take care of me, so that I can take care of others.  Our energy is connected and our love circles around and around capturing in the people around us.  Giving us gifts that we never knew existed, that we never knew we would be grateful for.  And I am grateful for this opportunity to go through this process of dying with Larry.  Is this how it will be for me?  I don't think so.  I understand better each time I loose someone I love, that each death is unique, but I am learning.  And I am so very grateful for all of these gifts.


  1. I think he was asking you for permission to go, which you gave him, very gracefully. I've heard that people who know they are dying sometimes do that.
    I hope that I die before my ex dies, and that he doesn't come to see me when I die (because I really don't need that BS) and that I'm never asked to do what you did. Because, I can't trust myself to not take a cheap shot at that particular dying man and say something like 'See you in Hell.'
    You're a better person than I am.

  2. I have to say to Lucy that you, Kathleen, are a better person than anyone I've met. So, there is that.
    You have taught me so much. The main thing you've taught me lately is that there is no "saving" of ourselves for the big things by not doing the small things. It IS the small things that make up our life, whether that is setting tables or mopping a floor or tending to a sick dog or being with a dying ex-husband.
    I am so very grateful for our friendship. I just hope that you know how grateful I am. That you know, dear Kathleen, how much you teach me every single day I know you.

  3. I've read every blog since your first, and always learn something..."When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

    However, the ONLY way I'd be able to get along with my ex is if he was helpless, flat on his back barely able to speak. Then and only then would he shut up and drop the "macho" crap long enough to let somebody lay down next to him and hold him...just hold him.

  4. Kathleen, you made me cry. You are pure radiant light, so filled with love. Yes, you are a teacher.

    Thank you.