Friday, November 11, 2016

Back from the Dead

I haven't posted here in almost seven years. There are a lot of reasons why, but the primary reason is that I completely forgot that I had created this blog. Now, I'm thinking that an online journal might not be a bad idea. This has been the shittiest week I've had in a while. It's the culmination of the shittiest six months I've had since at least 2011. So we might as well go ahead and open some wounds. My mom died of COPD at the end of January 2010. She suffered through serious breathing problems, leading to multiple hospitalizations, for the last four months. When you told her to stop smoking, she would flip you off. As her lungs turned to stone, she spent more and more time in the hospital. The last time, the hospitalist recommended hospice care - there was nothing else medically they could do for her. She went back to her little apartment she shared with my dad, waited for hospice to come and bring her a hospital bed and medication the next day, welcomed the family over that afternoon, talked story with us, hugged us all, and then died that night. We never asked any questions, because why ask? Went out on her own terms. After my mom died, during the summer of 2010, my dad helped me run a baseball clinic for little guys - 8, 9 & 10 year olds in our area. We had a blast as we worked at different stations, coached the kids during scrimmages, made new friends, and felt like we were doing something good for the kids in our neighborhood. One day after practice I noticed that he was a little slow back to his bag and water bottle on the bench. Had a hard time bending over to collect his stuff, so I helped him. Asked him if he was feeling OK. He said he'd been feeling some "back pain" the past few weeks. Over the next few months, I watched my dad deteriorate as his kidneys started shutting down and his bone cancer continued to spread. I didn't know about these conditions because he had ignored the diagnoses while taking care of my mom. He decided to try dialysis to see if he could get back to a sort of normal life (we still, at this point, didn't know about the bone cancer - but he did). After a few rounds he'd had enough, and entered the hospital right after the fourth of July 2011. He died on August 10, 2011. So... that's what I've been doing for the last few years. Everyone loses their parents, and it sucks. That's exactly why I'm writing today, the day after we buried my mother in law. She was an old-school dustbowl transplant whose father had a cotton farm in Corcoran - she picked cotton before and after school, and eventually moved to "the big city" of Fresno. She was no-nonsense, completely independent, and incredibly kind and giving. Her passing has been devastating to our family, but her courage is a source of strength. She was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer about six months ago, after battling the disease 15 years ago and being cancer-free for over a decade. She chose to go the chemo route, then radical bilateral mastectomy. She went through six rounds of chemo, almost died after the first and third rounds, and was planning on visiting the doc to schedule surgery. But the cumulative effect of the chemo, as well as severely reduced kidney function (there's those damned kidneys again), put her into a tailspin she couldn't recover from. She actually asked permission to stop fighting - like a woman with her life and strength needed permission. She died peacefully in hospice last Sunday. So this resurrection of the blog has focused on death. That's odd. Not sure if it's ironic, but it is odd. I needed to get it out. I promise: my next post will definitely not be about the death of parents. It will be about the death of our political system. KF

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