Monday, July 26, 2010

Nothing's happening

Many things running through my mind lately.  Hard to put them into words.  

It's getting closer and closer to court dates.  First one is the day after my birthday - 8/23.  It will probably get postponed again just like all the rest.  I'm trying to find out if the court date for Mary is still on.  Have to call the DA but her phone usually rings busy.  

Each time my phone rings and I don't recognize the number I think Emory.  Haven't done that in a long time and my anxiety level goes up and down, up and down.  I did finally get a battery charger for Danny's video camera so I'll be more prepared. 

I tried to refresh Mary's hanging plant by taking it down and soaking it in water and plant food for a few days and ended up breaking many of the long branches off.  Each one I had to remove stabbed me sharply.  So, I'm trying to grow roots on them so I can put them back.  If I loose that plant it will hurt more than I can explain. 

I'm trying to paint some of the living room posts.  I rearranged the furniture so it looks really different.  Now where I sit I end up staring more at Mary's pictures.  Didn't aim for that result but that's where it ended up.  That's ok because I don't go downstairs to her things much anymore. 

Kerry cleaned off his dresser and now Mary's canister is in full view whenever I'm in the bedroom.  Should I still have physical manifestations of sadness after all this time?  Will I always feel like someone is sitting on my chest when I think of those days?  I do have happy moments of talking and thinking about Mary, just not all the time.  Someone was telling me they had to explain to someone else what happened to Mary.  In their explanation to me they said "... and I smiled weakly and said "Mary's dead".  But they said it with such nonchalance that I had to hold my breath to keep from saying something.  Why is it so much easier for others to go on living than it is for me?  I want to do things around the house and yard but they all seem so meaningless that I don't get them going much.

It also seems to me that others may be moving from the beach to the forest a lot faster than I am.  And many are already well into the trees.  Why can't I get off the beach?  Do I even want to get off the beach?  Is my mind playing tricks on my heart or vice versa?  I am so hard to understand through my own eyes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

For Dr. Vega

I wanted to write you to share some thoughts about our meeting last Tuesday.  Though it was short in the physical sense it was indefinitely long for those brief minutes. 

I’m sure it was not easy for you to watch us struggling to make a decision.  At one point during the last few years Danny once said he didn’t think he’d make it past 30.  So, I know it was very hard for him to give up what he might have thought was a “last chance”.  You did, however, make me more hopeful telling us there was a good match a few months ago even though the donor was too old.  I constantly struggle with what my heart feels and my mind thinks.  And I MUST be positive for my family’s sake.  Danny also has told me he thinks he “has it much better than most of his friends”.  To have a second, albeit third chance for life is almost unimaginable in his words, seeing other patients with other diseases having no chance at all.

I’m sure you know it is much easier for this kind of decision to be made for the patient.  But, so few of life’s important decisions are black and white.  After you stepped out of the room Danny asked me what he should do.  As his mom I so wanted to tell him what I would do.  But, I have realized you don’t really know what you would do in a specific situation unless you are actually in it.  And even then you may not think clearly.  So I held his hand told him it was up to him.  Fortunately his dad said what we all knew to be the answer, what Danny wanted to say but couldn’t at the moment.  I guess that’s the difference between mother’s and father’s.

We finally realized that someone else will benefit from the “perfect match” that was almost perfect for Danny.  We cannot with good conscience possibly shorten the life of the gift given in love.

Driving down to Emory I did not know whether to celebrate or cry for I know the joy and pain of both sides.  Those feelings remained unspoken in all of us.  Wendy did remind me that we were giving the other family the opportunity to help someone else.  Something we were not given.  That did make me feel better, and still does.  But it doesn’t stop their pain.  Donor families are awesome.

I assume you were hoping Danny would make the best decision since there was no right or wrong one.  He asked you what you would do because he values your opinion very much and I do too.  The gift you have been given to restore life is amazing.  Thank you for sharing it with the world.

On the way out of the hospital room Danny said “On the bright side, I get to watch the All Star game”.  And his team won!

Today Danny is back to what I call “normal” - going to a concert with friends, playing with his nephew, watching TV, and hanging with his girl friend.  I think he is awesome, wise beyond his years and he is my hero.

In anticipation of “the perfect match”, thank you, Dr Vega, for using your gift to ease the pain of one while creating joy for another.  You, too, are my hero.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Danny is my hero.

My beautiful, wise, wonderful, awesome, amazing son made possibly the hardest decision he has ever had to make in his life so far.  A heart became available yesterday.  We rushed down to the hospital to get the blood test that would tell us if it was a good match.  We waited 4 hours, sitting in the room watching the minutes tick by....  When the surgeon, THE MAN, walked into the room to give us the news we were, of course, ready for "OK, let's do it."  I knew the second I looked into his eyes it wasn't going to be that quick.  

The donor was not a perfect match but it would work IF Danny wanted to go ahead with the transplant as long as he realized the chance of rejection was right around the corner.  But there is no crystal ball in life so it was totally up to Danny.  Dr. Vega has never encountered an "almost" perfect heart before. He left for a few minutes and we tried to talk together.  We instead cried together, silently.  It almost felt like we had lost Mary again.  He looked at me with those big brown eyes and said "what do I do".  I knew he didn't want to let me down.  I squeaked out what I've said to myself since all my children turned 18.  "It's your life, your decision."   It felt like such a cop out.  I tried to hard to talk myself into saying "Every day is a risk.  He could get hit by a drunk driver leaving the hospital."   Kerry said what we all knew needed to be said, "I'd wait if it was me but then I'm not sitting in that bed."

He said he'd wait. And then cried a few tears, ripped off his heart monitor, and said "let's get outta here."  Dr. Vega was very kind.  Danny and I had asked him all the questions we could, most he couldn't answer because those are the kinds of questions you ask when you are reaching for a miracle.

There is so much more that went into that 15 minutes of decision making that I can't put into words.   If I had talked him into going on and then he started rejecting and I lost him, I would probably have died with him.  I told him I would have made the very same decision if he had been a child.  Probably didn't help much.

At least the National League team won last night. They haven't won since Danny got his first heart.  Wouldn't that have been something, they wouldn't have started winning the night he got his heart.  Oh well....... 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To believe or not to believe

I found the bible I gave Julie when she was a teenager in 1994.  On the inside cover it says "In here you will find all your answers".  How interesting.  This was the year Danny was told he needed a new heart.  Over the next eight years I was very active in my church.  I was an elder, "chairperson" of the board (although I never felt very comfortable leading a group of people who didn't really accept me in that position), sunday school teacher, and played in the band we created for the early morning service.  I did other things too, just like any good dedicated believer. All this I did because I thought I was been "led" to do them.  Even when I didn't really want to do them (like chairperson) I did anyway.  Then Danny got his heart in 1997. I tried even harder to do more things because questions that had been hidden away for years started popping up.  No one had answers so I tried to smother them with good works.

I was raised as a Methodist.  I can sing all the old songs - memorized them when my mother and I sang them, sang them ALL the time.  Someone asked me "when I was saved" like it was supposed to be another birthday.  I had no idea, just always believed. Wasn't always a practicing christian but I knew there was Jesus and god.

Slowly but surely the questions started out weighing the non answers and I had to start looking harder or elsewhere.  God was not helping me.  Some say when prayers aren't answered it's because we aren't on the same time schedule as god.  So how the hell do they know what time zone god is in?  When I had questions I couldn't find answers for them I would say to myself "don't worry about this, god will take care of it".  

2001 or 2002 our church split and I left.  Too much discontent in a place of "worship".  Christians aren't supposed to act like this.  2004 Danny needed another heart and I needed something.  Not sure what but I gave church another try.  I really do like the people there.  I started going about every other sunday until Mary left.  All my questions burst through the dam and I could not keep the feelings of hopelessness contained.  

I still think someone, somewhere, somehow created the universe.  But I do not believe he, she, it is involved in my daily life.  If they were, Mary would still be here.  BECAUSE, everyone at church is always asking god to take care of them on the trips they make.   Take care of them doing this and that and everything.  From my point of view it looks like god is taking better care of her killer than he did of her.  I don't know if god is good, or just, or fair, or even "looking down from above".  I just know life happens, not for any reason, there isn't any kismet, we are here on this earth, good and bad alike.  I'm sort of hoping the good out number the bad.  It's hard to tell sometimes. We, us, you and me, are responsible for our actions. I may take into consideration other people's opinions but I don't rely on someone or thing I can't see to guide me.  If I'm blind I don't need some other blind entity telling me where to step.  But I do need the people in my life that make me tick.  My family and friends are worth more than a belief.

My counselor says rarely does a non believer become a believer after a child or someone close dies.  And that many parents who do believe leave the church because they some how deep down thought that because they did believe they were "covered" against all the bad things in life - a kind of believers insurance policy.  

Tony said one day during that first week - "I guess this is when I'll either turn to god or curse him forever".   I think we both are just ignoring him, if there is a him.

Now that I've got that out of my system, I'll have to see what life brings and how much I and my beliefs change over the next decade.

Tomorrow is Tony's birthday.  Happy Birthday my son from another mother! I love you.  Mary does too.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mary's avocado

July 4th came and went without fanfare.  As a family we used to all go the Parrish's.  Our 5 and their 6 made quite a household for 4-5 days.  Looking back they were some of the best times we've ever had as a family.  But all the kids grew up and went their separate ways only to meet again on some July 4th in the future.  After high school the visits got farther apart, partly because of Danny being on the transplant list.  

Beth's daughter got married the last Sunday in June.  I listened to Vyvyan tell me about it all the while thinking of what could have been at Mary's wedding.  Thank god for scar tissue.

I used to say to people who had lost a child that I didn't know how they kept breathing.  When in fact I didn't understand why they were still breathing.  I just knew if any of my children were gone you'd have to box me up and put me in a padded room.  I could not comprehend at all, positively not, no way in heaven, what kind of person you'd have to be to be sane enough to continue to breathe.   Now week after week I relive that night, those first few minutes, those first few hours when reality ceased to exist.  And I still can't comprehend how I am breathing.  Some say it's because I have people who depend on me and I can't let them down.  Some say it's self preservation (NOT- I would change places with Mary right now if I could.  But since I can't I do some signs of self preservation sometimes.)  Some say I am strong (NOT).  Some don't say anything. Most are just glad it's not them - as I used to be.  

If Danny leaves me I do believe I will take up residence in a box somewhere.  So, now I can't comprehend how parents still breathe after loosing more than one child.  Since none of my really important prayers have ever been answered I don't bother asking for a heart for Danny.  It makes me sick to think someone else will walk this journey when Danny will be alive and happy.  Yet, I want a heart to come his way so he will be alive and happy.  Such a Catch 22.  And I know it's not my fault someone will have to die for Danny to get a heart.  It's just not fair, but life isn't.  Knowing truths and realities in your mind doesn't help in the practical application of living.  Theory and execution are two different animals.

Mary's last avocado is still in the freezer.

I am not strong.  I am not weak.
I am merely trying to seek
Answers for which there are no questions.

I must keep walking in shoes that do not fit,
Along paths that go no where
Under skies that do not shine.

Each day I walk I split myself in half
One for the future, one for the past
Broken cartoon faces lighting the way

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hard work

It's been awhile.  I have been busy trying to not think about last year. But the closer August and Sept get, the more I do.

Been kind of slacking on working around the house.  Watching new TV show series to get away.  It's hard work not thinking about the things that wander into your mind.  Hard work to rearrange the words from your mind to your mouth because your ears don't want to hear the truth.  Hard work trying to not feel guilty when you think you might be having fun doing something that you should be having fun doing.  Hard work trying not to show your tears every single time you hear someone say Mary's name.

I have to get back to working on the house.  I have things I really need to get done. If I don't keep busy my mind wanders.

A lady who lost her son is always joining groups for other lost children.That's a constant reminder for me, constant pins being stuck into my pincushion heart.  Too much for me.  She probably needs it.  Everyone is different.  

Tony called.  He says he's been trying to push away the memories because they hurt too much.  Then one day he was digging a deep hole and all the memories of digging Choda's grave and Mary came rushing back - in the middle of work - with all those people around.  He doesn't like talking about Mary with strangers.  He's been writing the letters to the judge and that man so I can read them in September.  He's been writing since January.  

Rose Kennedy said
It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.
There's a song called "Only the strong will continue". It has a good beat. Wonder if it's true.  
And while I am walking I hear myself talking
Trying to convince my soul not to die

And while I am crying I hear myself sighing
Trying to ignore reality

And when my eyes are closing I see your smiling face
Then it fades away and the cold just rushes in
Memories are not enough my heart cries to the world
I want to touch and hold your hand – once again.