Goodbye to my best friend

Picture: My mother, Peggi, at her first chemo treatment.

I could not do much with my broken leg. My mother had gotten weaker and weaker, and couldn’t stand by herself or get up out of bed without help. My sister had just unexpectedly died. The hospice did not offer at-home health aides. I was at a loss.

My mother only had Medicare. The hospice told me that Medicare covered 5 days of hospice house under ‘caregiver respite’. By the Monday after my sister died my mother and I both agreed that she would go to the hospice house while I arranged for home health aides.

The hospice staff came with a transport vehicle on Tuesday and loaded my mother up. I waved as she left, and then I closed the front door and cried. And cried. I was wracked with guilt, for not being able to take care of my mother like I wanted to. The grief over my sister was hiding just under the surface, waiting to be acknowledged, but I had no time for it. That day and the next I called and talked to several organizations. Wednesday midday I found someone who would provide the help I needed – assisting my mother with the bathroom – and at a reasonable price. I was ecstatic. My mother could come back home, she would be with me, and everything would be a little bit better.

I called my mother and let her know what was going on. She sounded tired but was happy about coming back. I napped, and then around 6 that evening I texted my mother a note to say I loved her and missed her. She didn’t respond, but I wrote it off as her perhaps already asleep. Not long after I went off to bed myself.

At 1-ish in the morning I got a call from the hospice. My mother was dying.

The hospice was on the same street that I lived on, about 8 blocks away. I couldn’t drive, not with the very big post-surgical cast on my leg. Through tears I called my friends, and got a ride to the hospice.

The nurse on duty told me that my mother had had some difficulty breathing earlier in the evening, and then had been unconscious when they had most recently checked on her. She had a DNR order, and had always wanted to die without pain or being hooked to machines. So, they called me.

In her room she lay on the bed, her eyes closed, her lips slightly parted. Her pulse was very weak, very faint. I told her that I would be ok, that her cat would be ok, that I loved her more than anything in the world, and that she could go if she wanted.

She always had been a tough person.

For the next four hours I sat at her bedside, holding her cold hand, playing classical music on my phone for her. The nurse kept checking my mother’s pulse, and my mother kept hanging in there. And then, around 5:30 in the morning, she was gone.

I sat with her for a while longer, and then the grand machinery of death took over. I kissed her forehead one last time and left her to the mortuary attendants. I was so very, very tired.

My mother was my best friend. She was my confidant, my supporter, my role model, my idol. She was the one person in the world with whom I could be my truest self. She was everything to me.

My god, I loved her. I miss her.

December 2019 was a terrible month

My sister’s death was a complete surprise. She was supposed to go grocery shopping for me and my mother that Saturday morning, and was going to call us before she left the motel. By 9am we hadn’t heard from her, and I was getting worried. Calls to her phone went unanswered. I called the motel and had the desk clerk check her room. The clerk said the door was locked from the inside and the TV was on, but no one answered.

Deep inside myself, I think I knew already.

I checked with her husband back in Texas to see if he’d heard from her – he hadn’t. I contacted the police and asked them to do a welfare check. And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I called the dispatcher a couple of times, hoping for information, and was finally told that someone would be in touch soon.

At 1 pm there was a knock on the door. Two officers stood on my front step.

They told me they forced entry into my sister’s room and found her dead on the bed. I was stunned, but not as much as I thought I would be. Like I said, I just knew, somehow. After the officers left I called her husband and told him the news, passing on the officers’ contact information. Then my mother and I just kinda looked at each other in silence for a long while.

My sister’s cause of death was confirmed as ‘positional asphyxiation’. She was a smoker, and had asthma, and was unused to the higher altitude in Wyoming. She had some health problems of her own, and was on medication that made her very sleepy. She evidently fell asleep in a strange position and then suffocated.

I loved my sister, even if – like most families – we didn’t always get along. I didn’t have much time right then to mourn her, though. I worried about her husband and her two children (both teens), but a lot of my concern was on my mother. I needed to arrange help to take care of her, as with my broken leg there was a lot I couldn’t do.

Five days after my sister died, my mother died.

…to be continued.

Back again.

It’s been even longer than the last post. I had a couple of posts up promoting my books, but I took them down when I came back to the site.

It’s not been a good last few months for me. In December 2019, on my birthday nonetheless (and a Monday), I slipped on some ice in my backyard and fell, breaking my leg in three places. The ankle was bad enough to require surgery. This was terribly bad timing, as I was currently on FMLA from my work to take care of my mother. She lived with me, and had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in Aug. 2018. She was never going to beat cancer, but she fought it to a standstill for a good long time before deciding that enough was enough. The week of my birthday she was going to start at-home hospice care.

So, having a broken leg and then needing surgery (Tuesday), and with my mother being weak enough that outside help was needed, I contacted my sister in Texas. She drove up to Wyoming and arrived the day after my surgery (Wednesday). My mother started hospice care on Thursday.

My sister was found dead in her hotel room on Saturday.

….to be continued

It’s been a while…

It’s been a while since I’ve written on this site. It’s not been the best year so far. My father died in April, and then someone very close to me was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in August. I’ve been so lucky in my life to never have lost anyone important to me, so my father’s unexpected death was hard.

After a long period of idleness I’m writing again. I’m trying to finish up ‘White Hound’ and work on some short stories.


If anyone is out there reading this, let me know.

Unexpectedly cold morning

Ok, so falling asleep last night to 40 degrees and waking up to 14 degrees was a bit of a shock. Wyoming weather can be so unpredictable.We got a little dusting of snow overnight, and the wind’s been blowing strongly since early yesterday.

I love the wind. In ‘Black Hare’ I had Rook mention that the wind sounded like the ocean rushing down the street, a direct quote from me. Lying in bed at night the wind roars above me and I close my eyes and imagine myself stepping off the roof of my house and into the wind. It carries me above the dark world, and I can see the planet revolve beneath me.

On the way to work this morning the wind blew skeins of snow across the roads. It looked like white smoke and moved like something alive. It was one of those moments that I wish would last forever.

Book Review of ‘The Rending and The Nest’ by Kaethe Schwehn

I have a life-long love of apocalyptic fiction, and so the description of the book is what drew me in. I didn’t get anything I was expecting – but I got a fantastic story none-the-less. We’re never told what caused The Rending, and that’s ok, because the tale is intriguing and breathtaking. Kaethe Schwehn has crafted a look at the things we carry with us, and how we deal with loss and the traumas of our past. Deep, mystical, and lingering, ‘The Rending and the Nest’ is just flat-out good reading.

 

*free copy from NetGalley*

Book review of ‘Baby Teeth’, by Zoje Stage

Excellent look at some messed-up family dynamics. You want to dislike Hannah because of her obvious problems, but when the author writes in Hanna’s voice you, disturbingly, began to feel for her, and what drives her. Hanna’s mother, Suzette, has brought her own baggage – years of benign neglect from her own mother – and how that affects the way she deals with Hannah makes for a very interesting and well-told tale. Recommended for anyone who likes a slow-burning story and creepy horror.

*free copy from NetGalley*

Sharing a little news…

I’m working on my last run-through of White Hound, and prepping (in my mind, at least) the third book in The Aspects trilogy. In addition, I’ve got an idea for a horror novel I’m teasing out, and a couple of short stories are showing themselves to me.
 
To top off the excitement, I’m planning something exciting with my ‘Wolf in the Land of the Dead’ trilogy…so stay tuned!

Home

I love the state of Wyoming. I have never felt more at home anywhere else. I love the low population, the desolate landscape, the wide-open prairie, the wildlife.

I hate the politics, the red-state mentality, the drive to keep ripping oil and gas and minerals from the earth, the reliance on fading fossil fuels, the inability of the state government to move into the 21st century.

*pictured – Sugarloaf Mountain, Snowy Range, Wyoming*