As a person that has lost a good friend that meant so very much, I often find myself thinking of those last days of Di’s life and the decisions that had to be made that were so very difficult. I know that Di’s ultimate ideal conclusion would have been to be cancer free and go on living her life because she did not want to simply give up. I think that giving up meant making those hard decisions about what type of care to accept and when to accept that the ugly green cancer monster was winning the race.
As I further my career I feel the tug of Di in my life evermore. The subject of Thanatology has been a constant in my mind ever since Di was diagnosed with cancer; but never at the forefront of my education wants because other things always took precedence. Now as I am moving closer to a degree, I am becoming to realize that being authentic and real and make my focus to do the job that I was meant to do, do it right and correct and with much heart.
I remember the day that I was summoned to Di’s house to join in the discussion of what the next path to take would be:
“The room was filled with love and helpfulness and caring but I could not contain my tears and resorted to the kitchen many times where Jerome always seemed to meet me, give me a hug and tell me that Di wanted me there to hear all of this information, to be a support and be involved. I kept feeling the tears welling behind my eye sockets and filling up in my sinus cavity and my cheeks felt so heavy like punching bags right before the tears exploded from my eyes. Di looked so tired. She was angry. She was confused. I know it was the medications talking for the most part but there was still a glimmer of Di left and I could feel it and I knew she was fighting to overcome the effect of the meds. She was adamant and wanted to bring in a hospital bed and set the living room up. She wanted to stay “home”. The talking and discussion turned to what was “best”. I could tell that hearing what was “best” was frustrating for Di. I watched her eyes and she did that little eye roll and turned her head to the side and cocked it left-ward-ly and more than a few times I saw her lock eyes with me and I could feel the pitched essence of her anger (and anger was not something that Di EVER willingly let take over her). Di was angry and combined with the medications “talking” caused Di to lash out at the ugly green cancer monster; mad that cancer caused her bones to be so very brittle, causing her to falter not once but twice and end up with two broken arms all in one birthday weekend and now she was at this point; the point that she worked so hard to fend off for so many years. It was Di that wanted to make the decisions on her own timeline. It was all so difficult “that” day….everyone telling her that it was for the best….she could go and ‘check out and visit’ a hospice facility and the arrangements could be made….all that I remember is her saying no and having to be coaxed into agreeing to only JUST a visit. She said that if she had to go there she wanted a big TV and cable so she could watch her shows and all of the other comforts she enjoyed at home over the years. She did not want to die and she was fighting the entire idea of preparation. I think that day hurt me just as much as the last day that I kissed her forehead twice; once for me and once for him and told her it was okay and that I would miss her so very much; the tears pouring down my face. That day, along with other days remain etched in my memory forever."
In so many ways I wish that plans had been in place before that day, especially for Di. It may have made things “easier” if you can even make death “easier”.
I know that Di did not want to make those decisions early on or even years later after the reoccurrence because that ultimately meant that she was going to die from the ugly green cancer monster after all. But, would it have been easier to have that plan in place, the resources ready and the decisions already made? Would it have been harder to admit that it was “the time”? Would it have been more frustrating for Di at that juncture? Would it have been less heartfelt and more distinctive?
I cannot answer those questions but I truly feel that the time spent putting those plans in place at the exact time that they needed to happen took away the precious time that we all could have spent loving and hugging and talking and laughing with Di.
People need directions, plans, assistance, caring, love and cooperation during the many stages of dealing with the possibility of death and help should always be just a nudge away and easy to navigate.