Thursday, September 3, 2015

Life, Death, Life

I knew how hard this would be so I waited a bit.  Funny, it's not hard at all, it's a comfort to talk to you.  This is RICHARD and KAREN in better days, when they were alive and full of the joys of being so.  This night, I think they were appreciating Dad's fine Italian white wine.
Ricky and Karen DIED last month, about a week apart.  I had been caring for Karen as best I could, with her intolerable cancer which robbed her of everything but pain.  Ricky shut himself away a dozen years ago in full shame about his protracted MS, and for looking and talking so poorly - I wouldn't have cared, I only wanted to visit him, but we all were turned away and now he's gone home.  He went first, so Karen would have someone there to welcome her. 
I loved them, will mourn them, and the 6 of 8 remaining including myself find ourselves outguessing who will go next.  It's somehow cathartic to hear "Oh you'll out-live us all."  Hope not, I want to go home too. 
My parents each died of cancer.  Another brother is living with his cancer and fights so hard so well.  I wanted to be the one to cure all of them.  I'm very dramatic.  Selfish.  Afraid and confused.  ANGRY.  My spiritual base helps, I pray my little chants and stay clear of organized religion which I believe has nothing to do with God by any name, it's an invention of humans to soothe their need to gather, to connect, to bond, or just to show off a new outfit.  To me, religion is the most dangerous invention of humankind.  It has nothing to do with an almighty power like God. 
Saturday we survivors are gathering again, this time in the church we were raised in, for a memorial.   None of us are practicing Catholics but since neither Ricky nor Karen wanted a funeral or burial or any of the finely-honed rituals of death, we had one for Karen's multitude of friends and this one will be for both of them.  Ricky cut off contact so I don't know if anyone who knew him pre-MS will show up.  All I can do is be there for my remaining siblings.  This is for the living, the dead are fine now. 
While caring for Karen I came to start resenting her and found it very difficult to even look at her, and this I'll have to find a way to live with - somehow.  She barely weighed 100 lbs, was heavily medicated, and said things her sweetness never would've considered.  Yelling, spitting, cursing, crying, desperate for "more time!!" she'd say.  I couldn't give that to her.  The cries in the night became torturous sounds to my ears for nothing I did helped fight off her demons.  One night I soothed her hot forehead as she drifted in a kind of semi-coma, thanking me even then in her distress.  My Lord she was generous!  So caring, so funny, so loving.  I never heard her shout in anger at anyone - until then.  The cancer and Rx caused her to yell at people, all the while making them coffee or a meal, trying to stay on her poor boney feet, in a state of utter nonsensical acts.  This was not my sister.  So I came to resent this person.  She disturbed me in her neediness, and I can barely get up and down stairs so I decided I was making a great sacrifice of love as a good sister would, while deep down I felt ridiculous limping through the house with my cane, cleaning, doing laundry, vacuuming, caring for those 2 cats (O those cats!) and all the minutia of someone's home and life who is dying in a painfully protracted way.  Karen thanked me constantly, even in her insanity of cursing and yelling.  I did everything I could - dressed her, bandaged her poor ulcerated legs, drove her food shopping or just did crosswords together, which she was pretty good at.
She loved "yard-sailing" as she called it and was an expert at getting a dollar from a dime.  All of us have in our homes some little trinket(s) she picked up especially for us, always generous, always thinking of family.  Karen has a daughter, Alexandra, 26, a beautiful replication of her own light from inside always shining out to guide those lost on the path.  Alex was there when her father died only months before, now her Mom was being lost to her and somehow she managed to get through each day.  I'm so proud of my niece, who now has no parents.  She does have us.
You'll notice I don't talk of Ricky.  There's nothing to talk about, not now.  Yes there are old memories but I lost him before he died, lost to his pride and shame, and now his spirit is home and his useless body is ash.  Karen was cremated too, it's what they both wanted.  Wakes and funerals are the us, the living.  We don't need their bodies in a box underground, hard as rocks from the embalming and of no use to anyone but those who make a living from the business of death.
There's life, there's death, there's life again, and logically there's death once more - on and on in the great cosmic circle of whatever this all is.  I think our souls or spirits, whatever makes us conscious and aware, is something beyond understanding and cannot die - like energy.  Perhaps we're pure energy at the very basic level and once shedding this flesh we return to that collective of energies from all over the world.  The universe.
Karen used to say "I love you times infinity".  The night sky will never look the same to me now....
Fare well, my brother, my sister, until my own return home when our spirits reunite and we recognize each other right away.  Help me through this.  Please.
My heart is full and I cannot cry.  I cannot cry!


Jon said...

Cathy, I was profoundly moved when I read this. I can't begin to know what you've gone through during this ordeal, and yet I can identify with every word. Only someone who has been through similar experiences can understand. I'd like to commend you for your courage - - I know that much of our so-called "courage" simply comes from an inner reserve of strength that we unconsciously summon in dire times of need.

I can only imagine the emotional devastation you are going through after having two siblings pass away in one month (not to mention what you must have gone through when your parents died). You are a saint for caring for your sister and giving her comfort during an unspeakably agonizing time. I hope that now you will have some time to regenerate - emotionally and physically - time to heal, or at least to resurface (we never really heal completely, do we?).

I went through absolute hell this past decade, in Texas, dealing with the death of both my parents - - while also dealing with many other very serious problems in my life. I was isolated - far away from friends and relatives - with absolutely nobody to rely on but myself.

I recently moved to the mountain wilderness of Tennessee (to be near my cousin). I survived all the horrible ordeals in Texas, but I emerged only as a shell of my former self. I feel ancient, emotionless, cold, and extremely bitter. Much like you, I find no comfort in religion. I used to be religious long ago but now my heart has turned to stone.

I hope this comment doesn't sound too depressing. I just wanted you to know that I care and understand.

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