Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Death

Let’s face it, to those of us left behind, death fucking sucks. Whether you lose a loved one to an accident, disease, murder, or even old age, it just sucks. There is a hole left in your heart and in your life that will never be filled. Even focusing on the good times and the memories don’t fill the void left in your life.
The reason I’m on this is because yesterday, 18 Nov 2013, we buried the second family member in just a 2 month time span. On Sept 21, 2013, we buried my 46 year old sister, Leslie Lorenz. Leslie battled cancer for 11 long years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer (ductal carcinoma) at the age of 34 in 2002. The initial news devastated the family, but we all banded together and Leslie became the “rock” that held us all together. She got a lumpectomy and received radiation and chemo for the disease. She was clear for the next 4 years. In 2006, she was diagnosed a second time with breast cancer. They listed it as a “second primary site” and not anything that was missed the first time. This time, she elected for a double mastectomy and hysterectomy due to the chances of it returning. She also received genetic testing and tested positive for the BRAC1 gene mutation. BRAC1 is a mutation responsible for breast cancer in women and men and prostate cancer in men. Unfortunately, when she got the diagnosis the second time, it wasn’t as early as the first and there was lymph node involvement. The removed her lymph nodes and the received chemo for a second time. She was declared in remission for another 3 years after treatment. In 2010, she was suffering from excruciating headaches. She went in to get checked and after all was said and done, she was dealing with metastasized breast cancer that had found its way into her brain and into her bones. She was now battling brain cancer and bone cancer. She did treatments, she in part of clinical trials and she did her chemo and radiation. She seemed to doing pretty good, but she was never rid of the cancer and her Doc told her she probably never would be. After doing research, we found that the majority of people that are diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer in the brain last anywhere from 6-18 months. 36 months later, she seemed to be still doing strong. In July of 2013, she suffered a seizure and was hospitalized for a couple of days. After that seizure, she seemed, to me, to start a steady decline. She started being “less there” mentally more and more. I went away on a TDY for a week in September and when I came back on Friday, Heather had to brief me about what I would see when I walked in the house. Leslie was hardly there anymore. She would look at you and you could tell she would recognize you but that was about as far as it would go. There were no discussions. And, she was lying in a hospice bed. She slipped quickly after that. Saturday, there was very little anything. She would look around every so often, but that was about it. On Sunday, she was in a lot of pain and they tried to make her comfortable with morphine and meds. Nothing seemed to work. I went home that night not expecting to see my sister again. When I arrived back at her house the next morning, I was relieved to see that she was actually resting comfortably. No pain. Just lying there, motionless, breathing. We stood vigil over her for the next coming hours. Around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I heard my mom start crying. My mom worked Hospice for over 5 years and she knew “the signs.” We all gathered around my sister and we knew the end was near. We grabbed a hand, touched a leg, and let her know we were all there. The next 5 minutes were the longest of my life. And, while we all knelt with her, she took her last breath. It was a VERY long 11 years. She never let her disease stop her from doing what she wanted or needed to do. But, even though we knew it was happening, the reality of it was, it still fucking sucked. She will forever be in our hearts and our minds. She left a void in the family that will never be filled. And we are going to struggle with her loss for a long time.
Forward ahead less than 2 months. 14 Nov, 2013. I get a text from my mom that she is headed to Macon because her Aunt, my Great Aunt’s house is on fire and they can’t get her out. We all get to the house and the fire is out, but the Coroner’s car is also at the house. She perished in the fire. And, after hearing stories, she didn’t die from smoke inhalation, she burned to death. Normally, losing an 88 year old isn’t the worst thing in the world. They lived a long life and this lady was an absolute Saint. She was very strong in her Beliefs, as was my sister. She was just an overall awesome, happy person. But, to go out like that? That is no way to leave this world. Especially after being such a good person to everyone else. So, we can’t even start to rebound back from my sister’s death and we get hit with a horrible death such as this one. We all went to the funeral yesterday. My sister’s funeral was one of “Life Celebration.” The service and music were very upbeat and everything she loved. My Great Aunt’s service was a typical, traditional Methodist church service and most of it was very sad with traditional Hymnal music. I’m not sure if it was really all that sad or we just hadn’t had time to get far enough behind Leslie’s so it hit us worse. I don’t know. All I know is it was not joyful being part of that and burying 2 family members in less than 2 months is some serious bullshit laid on this family.
Depending on what you believe or don’t believe, the dead are either in their eternal happy place and basking in all the joys that they have been taught and believed in their entire lives or they just don’t know or feel anything anymore. What I know is: Those of us that are left behind are trying to pick up the pieces and live with the void that those that go before us have left in our hearts and our lives. We are going to miss them each and every day we are without them and hopefully, maybe, one day we’ll actually see them again. I don’t want any type of religious debate on this post, so I won’t publish any comments that are headed that way. I use this blog to work through my issues by writing them down and I’m although I am interested in the thoughts of others, I’m not up for debate on the subject. Everyone has their own beliefs and I am one of “to each their own.” So, debates on this subject do nothing for me.
Until next time…

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