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Monday, July 10, 2006

Anger, Grief, Goodbye

I’ve been reluctant to talk about death because it makes me so angry.

My brother in law B.R. died on May 18. My sister, and her three adult children knew his death was imminent, yet knowing doesn’t ease the horrible pain.

BR’s battle against pancreatic cancer was fought on two fronts, his and my sis. Together they took the three-month prognosis and stretched it into sixteen. That last day, my sis, in her strength and dignity, lay on the hospice bed beside her love and companion of 44 years. She whispered memories of the life they shared, promised him that she would see him in a better place, and gave him permission to seek the peace that was beckoning him.

There in her arms he died.

B.R. had a big dog named Kodiak. There is an odd thing about dogs, especially a companion of many years. They seem to take on their owner’s dispositions, quirks, and even their health issues. Yes, Kodiak had cancer. He’d been fighting it for about the same amount of time as B.R. My sis had spent the last 18 months accompanying one or the other to the medical center or the veterinary hospital.

Sis told me that the day B.R. died, she watched Kodiak back away, out the door. He was never himself after that.

He slept on the bed beside her in the master suite every night the following two weeks. Then, on Sunday before dawn, she was aroused from badly needed sleep by odd sounds he was making. In agony she came to the realization that he was partially paralyzed and struggling to move and to breathe. In those wee hours, she spoke softly to him, and whispered memories of the life they had shared, promised him they would see each other in a better place, and gave him permission to seek the peace that was beckoning him.

On that day, Kodiak laid his head in her lap and died.

I picture B.R. and Kodiak playing fetch on a wave-swept beach, backpacking up a trail in the high mountains, and sharing lunch beneath a towering rock cliff.

Writing these things has been good for me. It has eased my anger.

Now I will grieve with my sister.

9 comments:

Amanda said...

And here come the tears...
It seems so unfair, death. Why we have to watch our loved ones suffer, I don't know. Why we have to live our lives without those which we want to share it with, I don't know. Why the ones least deserving are those taken, I don't know. Uncle B was a good man. A good father. It wasn't until the day of the funeral that I realized I only knew him as my uncle, and not all those other things he had been. I watched the slideshow of him as a young boy, listened to his sister's tales of her big brother, listened to his kids talk about him as a father and a mentor. It was then that I realized how much more there was to the man I knew as uncle.

I miss him and I miss my cousin and I miss my first love. I even miss my cats and dogs.

I suppose we can be angry about it or accept it. I prefer to be angry, but I know it will do nothing but sour my soul. And it still amazes me that Kodiak lived and died like his best friend. I feel for Aunt S. I can't imagine what it must be like to lost someone you love after 40+ years. Devasting is what comes to mind. I wish there was more I could do...

I know we all have to bury our loved ones. I just don't want to !!

Amanda said...

I wrote a blog about Uncle B on my myspace acct before he died... maybe I will have to forward it to you.

Walker said...

Dang, girl, I can't read your blog in my office. I'm sitting here crying... again.

Pamela said...

I finally cried hard last night - ... been all burning inside.
Feeling released to cry.

Yes Amanda, send it to me - love to read it. (I'm going to write about your first love some day too)

Walker, sorry about the tears. Our family also lost a 29 year (my brothers son) a year ago next week) from a rare form of lung cancer. I'm still angry about his death so young. God and I have gone a few rounds - I'll write about it eventually --- but give you warning so you can skip it at the office (:

Walker said...

Yeah, you better write a few more light hummingbird things before we get to the next subject.

Hey, if you want a laugh, check out White Trash Republic's Mole story. Lightened my mood after I left here!!

Susan said...

I stopped by your blog because Michele was over, and I have to say that this post made me want to console you.

I have a dog, Chip-and I don't want to think about the day he passes

Nice blog

Grim Reality Girl said...

You wrote about these deaths beautifully -- the description of your sister is of beauty and strength. I lost my Mom last year to cancer. My cousin is fighting it. A nurse on the cancer floor at the hospital advised me to "live in the now." She cautioned me to enjoy the moments that were left and not to waste my energy on anger. The nurse was a cancer surviver so for some reason I listened to her. I enjoyed what I had left with my Mom and didn't waste my time with her crying. Now I try to enjoy the memories she left me and the example I can not aspire to. I'm sorry for your losses and am glad your sister has you.

Anonymous said...

too bad the dog didn't live awhile to give her time to adjust. that is sad. ivy

Intense Guy said...

I agree with Grim Reality Girl. You write so elequently and with powerful spareness on such difficult topic.

I won't ever know B.R. but if I was to ever meet your sister I would know I was in the presence of a human being that embodied class, dignity, and a awesome sense of balance. Those traits appear to run in the family...

I hope you are doing as well as can be expected (and a perhaps more than smidge better than that!)

I'm going to riding through the marsh/swamp lands of North Carolina this week - I'll be looking for Pamela's sort of birdies. :)