Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saying goodbye

We have had quite the upheaval this month. What looked to be a not so promising year has turned around in the most unexpected way. Let me explain...

I have had some bitter feelings for the past few months. These feelings have slowly crept into every crevice of my life, unfortunately. I tried really hard not to let them, but when your heart gets hardened it is hard to not let it affect so much. I had so much going on and so many buried emotions going on it was bound to happen. I was not excited about a new year. In fact every time I saw something that talked about being better I got a little more bitter. Mostly because I knew I needed to change, but I wasn't quite ready for that change. I went about day to day life trying to force the happy doing things that I thought might help me snap out of my seemingly eternal funk. Nothing seemed to be working and I was almost in a panic about it.
Fast forward to January 11th. We were just finishing up painting our bedroom when Brent got a text that his cousin and sister were taking his mom to the ER because she had had the stomach flu for a week and they wanted to get some fluids in her. This seemed pretty normal, not really emergency, but in a small town there is no other option on a Saturday night. He told them to let him know what they find out. About an hour later they called and asked him to go out to the hospital to give her a blessing. She was pretty sick and needed a CAT scan to see what was going on. He went out and kept me pretty well informed while I waited at home with the kids. I did my best to get the mess we were in, from painting, cleaned up to occupy my mind.
About 9pm he called and said "you need to get out here as soon as possible. She has to have surgery and the doctor says she might not make it through." I quickly called my parents (who were on standby already) and they came over immediately. Luckily we have a wonderful neighbor who sat with the kids until my parents could get here.
I got out to the hospital and walked into her room. Susan, Brent's mom, was incredibly relaxed for the condition she was in. She is normally really anxious about doctors in general. We were able to talk to her a little bit and reassure her that things would be alright. We gave her a hug and told her we loved her. Her kids that weren't there called and talked to her. The surgical staff came in and they were all LDS. Such a sweet tender mercy for us. Some of them were friends and some became friends. They gave her a blessing with  everyone there (Brent, Nicole, Luke, me, Tiffany, Grandma T, David, some others, and the surgical team) and then they whisked her off to surgery.
The family all headed to the waiting room to await news. In the mean time Julie, Jeff, Steven, and Vicki all arrived from Green River. I grabbed some McDonald's for everyone and we waited and waited. Outside the snow was beginning to fall and before we were done it was a true winter blizzard. Kind of like everyone was feeling.
A couple of hours later she was out of surgery and while it wasn't great news, it was news that she was going to survive and it wasn't as bad as they had feared. The siblings were all a little shaken up from the news-she had a hernia the size of a grapefruit that had completely obstructed her intestine...thus the puking for a week. Because of her size and the swelling they didn't close the intestine completely and would do that in the next day or two. We made sure she was comfortable in ICU and headed home for some much needed sleep. It was 2:30AM.
We drove home on snow packed roads that had been clear when we began this journey.
Sunday was much the same, waiting and up and down news from the doctors. We sent my parents home because it looked like things were alright and it would be a lot of waiting. They got her sewn up and everything looked as good as it could be.
I still had some very bitter feelings inside that were preventing this from being anything but a wonderful experience with the family.  I am not proud to say that but it is what it is.
Monday turned out to be not the best day ever. There were a few events (that I won't go into detail) that made it horrific and it had nothing to do with Susan. Ugh...once again so disappointed in myself for allowing it to go on.
Dr. Barton had told the siblings that it was coming down to her will to live. They (I wasn't there, this is second hand) told her that they love her. They said they would fight for her but if she wanted to go be with Mike, their dad, they would miss her. But if that is what she needed and wanted to do they would all be ok. They would take care of each other. They knew how much she has missed Mike since the day he died and how lonely she had become. Not easy words to tell your mother. 
All the siblings and their families that were there went to dinner on Monday night and then everyone headed back out to the hospital. I went home with my kids to get them ready for bed and finish up my laundry. I know, how trivial. Brent called shortly after and asked me to bring the kids down because they were going to transfer her to LDS hospital in Salt Lake. The doctor had done all he could in Evanston and determined that she needed more in depth care that he couldn't offer. He wasn't sure of the outcome, but he hoped that a larger hospital could help her more than he could. So with no promise of recovery we thought the kids needed to say their goodbyes. They knew she was very sick and that she was headed to Utah in an ambulance. They said goodbye and that they loved her and once again she was whisked off.
I cannot tell you what changed my heart, but something did. Knowing that we were possibly losing our mother made all the other things that I thought were so important melt away. All that mattered was that we were family and we needed each other to lean on and count on. Susan needed us united to fight for her and make the best possible decisions.
We gathered our stuff, dropped the kids off and headed to Salt Lake for a length of time we didn't know. When we arrived at LDS hospital the cool feelings that had been present that morning were gone. We were once again the family that we had been previously. We laughed and joked in the waiting room and ate all kinds of treats. Some of them delicious, some were gas station quality!!
Finally we heard from the doctors that were trying to stabilize her. They didn't have the best news. They weren't sure what was going on. In the morning they would know more. They allowed all of us to go back and see her before we left for the evening. She wasn't responding to anything that the nurses did like tickle her feet or prick her fingers. We knew it wasn't good.  They said to get some sleep and they would call us if they had anymore news. See you in a few hours (it was once again, 2:30am). 
We found a hotel to stay at that we thought was a discount...it wasn't...and it was a little shady. At 3AM we weren't too concerned. Had a good laugh and tried to sleep.
The hospital called about 8AM and said that they wanted to do surgery to see if there was infection causing a problem. If there was infection they could treat it. If there wasn't, there was nothing more they could do. Devastating news for sure. The hospital wanted to know if the family consented to the surgery. They did and we headed back to the hospital. As a side note: none of us had showered and most had not brought a change of clothing.
Back at the hospital we waited for the news of the surgery. As soon as the charge nurse and head ICU doctor walked in with somber faces I knew the news. They said there was no infection and there was nothing more they could do. They had given her all the blood pressure medicine they could and her blood pressure still would not stay up. It was steadily dropping. They explained that it would continue to drop until her heart stopped beating.
We all began the process of making some of the most heartbreaking phone calls we've ever had to make. Keep in mind Brent is the oldest of the siblings at 36. Far too young to be making calls like that.  Susan's family began to gather. Before long we had a room full of love. Absolute love. I can tell you that Satan does not want families to be forever. He wants the bad feelings. We were determined to have nothing but good feelings. Everyone there had a few moments to spend with her. It was so sweet to see her blood pressure raise after each one of her children were able to hug and kiss her.
Finally, about 1:10pm her heart stopped.
The hospital staff was so good to let us grieve, take up the hospital halls and they provided us with food and drinks in a private room for grieving. A couple of her nurses even cried with us and comforted us. Her doctor found Brent and apologized that they couldn't do more. He didn't have any reason for her death. It didn't matter if we had an exact cause. We knew that she was ready to once again be with her sweetheart. Even if that meant leaving her dear, sweet children here.
After leaving the hospital we all gathered at Little America to decompress. I guess that's what its called. In that room we were able to apologize for the bad feelings, reaffirm that we love each other and basically pledge to never let it happen again. It was, for me, healing. We were ready to face the world united and it felt so good.
The next week was mostly a blur of funeral planning, visiting, and enjoying the beautiful feelings that were all around us. Maybe I'll post more about that later.
I am happy to say that my life feels more complete. I am so sad to think that it took someone dying for us-mostly me- to be reminded of what is most important. We are always going to have a reason to be offended, have hurt feelings, or be mad. It is our choice how we react when these feelings come up. In the eternal scheme of things, I bet they don't matter. I bet that there are people on the other side who are thinking...let it go, we want you here, Say you're sorry, accept an apology, choose to not be offended. It is worth it.
As we are slowly getting back to real life I am missing the feeling of a warm hug that we had in the days following her death. I won't pretend to have the deep emotions that her children are experiencing, but I do miss her. Dearly. I loved talking to her about anything and everything. I miss her warm welcoming personality. I just miss knowing she is only a text or phone call away for whatever we need.
So like I said, our unpromising year is looking so good. There is still sadness and we aren't ready to fully enter the happy go lucky world. But, I know without a doubt that we have an eternal family. I know that if we allow it, the atonement can heal us. I know we have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that we have the power in us to make our lives what we want. We just have to find the desire and assess the things that are most important.
While we will miss Susan dearly, we are so happy to know she is no longer in pain and again with Mike. No more lonely nights. Until we meet again, thank you and we love you, Susan.

4 comments:

We are the Mogles said...

I do not have any of the right words but I do appreciate your honesty and your testimony. I hope you and Brent can continue to find peace in life--we love you guys!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Collete for posting this. It has really made my day. Keep those strong bonds and love with each other and stay close. That is the way Mike and Susan would want it and it will bring such great joy and happiness to you guys. We love you guys so much and want you to be happy. Thanks again for the wonderful words. Love Ya, Uncle Mikal

Christy said...

Words don't do justice on my feelings of loss and sadness for the lose your Mom. That must be so difficult. I am so sorry. Love you guys.

Monica said...

I know it's been a couple of months since you posted this, but our prayers have been with your family. We were saddened to hear about her passing, especially with such young kids and grand kids. Matt can relate with having lost both his parents so young. It's so important to keep the memories alive in your children. I hope you'll find more comfort in sharing susans stories with your kids as the years go by. Love you.