Today, Rachel the nurse came for a visit. She was very nice. She said things seemed to be going well and talked with me about Carol’s medications and such. She showed me how to administer the liquid meds. Kelly and Krista had already shown me, but that was OK, it never hurts to double check to make sure you are doing it correctly. We chatted for a while. Rachel also appeared very kind and caring. She gave Carol a “drain” which is something that totally grossed me out. I excused myself and said I was going to make a cup of tea just so I could leave the room. Carol said I could stay but I responded by asking her if she needed anything while I was downstairs. I could never be a nurse; I always had a hard time dealing with blood, needles and such when my children were small.  

     After Rachel left our conversation began to center around Carol’s upcoming birthday, who was coming to visit over the weekend and “do you think I can get downstairs?” She told me today that she was scared to go downstairs. The last time she went downstairs, Kelly and Krista put her in the wheelchair; Kelly tripped on one of the steps, toppled head over heals and flew over the top of her. He landed upside down on the stairwell with Carol on top of him and Krista holding them all in place so they wouldn’t fall. Carol told me that their faces were inches from each other.  Kelly said later he was thinking to himself that she was going to die there on the stairs and he would feel guilty about it for the rest of his life. There was some laughter at this point but I imagine it wasn’t so funny when it was happening! Of course that would be scary! We began discussing different options for getting downstairs but when all was said and done she said “I don’t think I want to go downstairs. People can just come up here to my room.” I told her she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to do. 

     We also talked about today being our father’s birthday and how we missed him. He died from cancer almost 19 years ago. It was a long and drawn out illness, cancer of the prostate that moved into the bone. He become quite weak and lost a lot of weight. Carol had spent the last month of his life helping care for him. When he died, he was just a shadow of his former self. Carol looked me squarely in the eyes and said “this is why I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want you to have to go through what we went through with daddy.” I responded “and yet, here I sit.” We were both quiet a moment and then she apologized to me for having to take care of her. An apology wasn’t necessary because I was her sister and would be there for her no matter what. Family takes care of each other. We got teary eyed and then she looked at me and said “stop it!  If we cry I won’t be able to breathe.” Change of topic.

     Next she said, “We need to talk about what I want to have happen when it is over. I want to be cremated and I want my ashes spread all over the world: Portland; Oklahoma City; Missouri at Rocky Comfort Cemetery where grandmother, granddad and all the other relatives are buried; The Inn (in Maryland); Washington D. C.; and of course Paris (in the famous cemetery whose name always escapes me). I said “OK, we’ll make sure it happens.” We sat a moment and then I asked, “A world tour?” She laughed and said yes. We sat in silence again and I said “we could call it ‘the Ashes to Ashes World Tour’ and make t-shirts”. We both started laughing thinking about it. We discussed t-shirt designs and decided a stylized person blowing ashes out of their hands into the wind would be perfect for the front. On the back we could put the names of the places the tour would go and the dates that the ashes were spread. We laughed some more until it became hard for her to breath and then we changed the topic again. Morbid humor seems to be getting us by for the moment. Laughing is a good thing.

     I find it interesting how one event in our life affects another. We seem to build on each event in our lives. It shapes the way we think, the way we react, and the way we feel. We don’t even seem to realize it is happening. Our life stories unfold daily and we just take them for granted. Then one day something happens – a sound, a smell, a taste, another event – and memories of past events flash into our minds. All the emotions, smells, and thoughts come rushing back to us. It molds the way we think, live, act. As I think about today, I think about my father. Daddy was so very sick yet he was always cheerful and dealt with it all quite well, much better than I did. All of what is happening with Carol stirs up the memories and emotions of that ordeal so many years ago. I have always felt a bit guilty for not being able to be there more for my father during his journey to death.  Of course, I had three young children (2, 7 and 10) at the time and lived an hour away. It made it difficult to go there as often as I really wanted. Today, I realized that I did what I could at the time and I should feel no guilt. The memories of that place in time are flooding back; the good, the bad, the ugly.

     Tonight I am going to bed thinking of my daddy and my sister; crying once again. I keep wondering when the tears will stop flowing, this being said from a person who quite often has emotions leaking from her eyes. Thank goodness for that wonderful goopy stuff you can put on your eyes to take away the bags after a night of crying! I hope I will sleep tonight.