Friday, November 21, 2014

How to choose

My beautiful Grandma died on Nov. 4th at the age of 97.  97!  My dads mom died at the same age.  This Sharpe/Browne/Leatherman/Barth family have good genes.





My sister Sarah had been to see her a couple of weeks earlier, and Laura and I were heading there the 5th.  Mom called early on the 4th, and I took off right after Paul's funeral.  I've never packed so fast or driven to Chicago so quickly.  Mom and Dad left before me, thank God because they arrived in time to say goodbye, to hold her sweet hand, talk and watch her leave with a smile.  My mom missed that with her dad and brother.  My mom really needed that.  My cousin told Gram, the nurses told Gram, everyone told Gram that mom was on the way.  She waited, I know not by what power, but somehow she waited.  I got there about 2 hours later, but that's ok. I just wanted to be with my mom.  She is the teacher of toughness and independence, but at that moment, tough needs to be trampled.
We spent the next day making the arrangements and shopping and it was good.  The next we spent doing some shopping, hanging out with my cousins, the cousins who really took such good care of Gram. Then we spent an evening making grams 2 famous recipes for deviled eggs and orange jello.  I now know how to make it….. But I need an old Tupperware jello mold.

This loss, this choosing to wait to die until her daughter was there, just took me right back to Brittany Maynard and her decision to end her life.  People missed a lot of beauty in the journey of dying with purpose.  I'm not sure what dying with dignity is supposed to mean.  No adult diapers?  I don't know.  I do know that this journey of Grams had a purpose.  It's obvious to me…. but maybe not to others.  But the point is in the end, the very end, Grams CHOOSE to wait for her daughter.  Whether God gave her the will or that it was just the plan is unknown.  The beauty of it cannot be taken lightly.  I understand Grams circumstances are quite different than Brittany's.  I totally understand that.  Some journeys end after long and horrible and heartbreaking battles, leaving those left behind broken.  But broken is not always bad.  Broken is sometimes the only way we can be made whole again.  Going thru these earthly traumas is a part of our lives.  No one will be able to escape trauma.  Seriously, if God can't escape it, why do we expect to.  And as for a choice of when we get to escape because our journey will be hard and ugly on us and others- that's not a choice for us to make.  The choice is how to travel.

I choose to travel with lots of baggage (meaning friends, family, help).  Not everyone knows everything but you know just about everything.  And I will share absolutely anything.  And while there are many hard choices I am going to have to make along the way, the date of my death will not be one of them.  There is a spiritual tenderness and love in helping and watching someone you love more than anything leave this rotten earth and step thru those gates of Pearls.

My Gram was really special.  Her husband died, then a year or so later her son was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  She cared for my Uncle until the day her died, in her house, often by herself.  She taught us how to love even when my Uncle was in a vegetative state.  We learned to include, to talk about Cubs baseball, since that is all that mattered, and we learned to be sad, and mad and to ask questions.  My Uncle Darwin died at the end of his journey, from pneumonia often caused by MS.  It was horrible.  My Grams had to bury her son, my mom her brother, my cousins their father.  There's a pain there I cannot understand.  Hero's they all are.

Choices are hard to make, and we can make bad or wrong choices.  Some matter, some don't.  The right choice can affect any number of people in different ways.  I come from a long line of family who are able to make good choices during the hard of life.  That same line also make the most ridiculously stupid choices also.  Humans…. We all are.

It's sad that Brittany and her family and friends were not given a chance to walk the hard journey of her life.  It's sad that they can't respond to her strength of choices of treatment or of living life in spite of knowing she's dying.  There are a lot of blessings in those moments, for both the living and the dying.  I have proof.  The proof will be in the comments below I hope. (on blog page please)

I live differently now.  I forget more, but I care more.  I love more, and I protect much more.  I'm not afraid of speaking my mind much anymore; not afraid to argue.  I didn't necessarily have a ton of strong opinions 10 years ago.  I'm not afraid to take on teenagers!  It's not my favorite, but I'm not afraid. And I am definitely not afraid to stand up for what it morally, ethically and biblically right to do.  And it seems Gram may have taught me some of that.

If the choice is right, is within God's will, and will do no harm, it's probably a good one.  Take a chance and make a choice.  Make a decision.  But always choose life.  It was given to us as a gift, from a father who sacrificed his own son for us.  For Him we can endure anything.  Because of Him we can endure anything. In Him we can endure anything.  Not always smiling, not always understanding, and often not without anger.  He understands all of that because he felt so much more than we can ever imagine.

I have long periods of needing to process new, bad, or complicated information.  I know I need to be able to sort thru and understand my options, my truth.  My medical team understands that and is careful to give me the truth.  I can't get thru my head if I don't have truth.  In talking with my oncologist today I mentioned how it's necessary for 'us' to go to the dark places because they are a strong possibility or reality.  I said we just have to in order to process so that we can deal so that we can fight.  A right mind, and right spirit, and right attitude is half the battle.  IT IS.  Now matter what the battle.  Hard is hard, no matter what your hard is, the process is similar.  It is getting progressively more difficult for me to process at a fast pace.  But until it's processed, this girl makes no decisions.  And this drives my peeps nuts although they understand.  I'm sure I'd feel the same if the roles were reversed.  I expect that this trend will continue-me needing more time to process.  Given that time however gives my heart and soul time to reconnect with God and to believe in winning.  It's that simple.  I just wish Brittany would have known that and the strength and determination and beauty that can come from a spirit filled with divine fight.

To Grams, for her strength and steadfast faith.  For praying for us.  For knowing how to love us, and showing what real love is by sacrificing her life for the lives of her husband and son.  She wouldn't have seen it as a sacrifice but as her parental duty, her natural instinct to protect and nurse her son to health.  Who of us wouldn't do that?  My mommy does it every month for me.  So when you wonder how I can do this, now you know.  It's in my genes.  I got some of the best ones available!

Polly on the rise.