Love lost, read and found
Who do we blame in life when picking a fight with God proves a mission to far? How do you ever find course to challenge doctors who cared for your loved ones, after they have finally slipped away?
I had some of my family members make a big deal about how I should make a big fuss of how the doctors had missed Kath’s symptoms for so long, but I just don’t have that kind of fight in me.
Sometimes things just turn out tragically and it’s too easy to look for someone to blame. Of course that doesn’t justify Katherine having to die or indeed anyone else for that matter, but pointing fingers at anything in particular never achieves finding any comfort at all.
When it comes down to the end, either we console ourselves with the fact that at least we were there, or we burden ourselves by what we experienced whilst we were there. One is not greater than the other, they happen and it is just fate.
Don’t give yourself a hard time about not being there when someone special passes away, you don’t deserve that. Instead judge if you were really there for them in their life. Celebrate what you were to each other, not the things you felt were left unsaid. Actions speak louder than words, and if they are fulfilled, words aren’t even ever needed. Your family and friends will know this of you and no-one more than you yourself, will know what the passed away ever meant to you.
You of course might hate the fact if you weren’t there when someone special in your life met their death, but just believe that they knew you were there when it mattered most throughout their life instead. With that knowledge, the passed away and the left behind can both rest with peace of mind.
We both used to look out for our elderly next door neighbour who was often unwell and always alone. Katherine used to bring him in hot meals and I would help him where I could, tend to his garden and sit with him for company and conversation over the years. But then Katherine died and I withdrew from many things as I just couldn’t find enough time and ways to cope with so much on my own. A year later and I saw him brought home in a wheelchair looking grey, frail and with a beard, I realised how I had forgotten him completely while I dealt with things served on my own plate and I was ashamed I had not found something bigger in me. He died alone on Boxing day, and I was not there for all of a year when I had been there for so many years before. So now I ask myself the question, knowing there to be no definitive answer at all:
‘Was I there’ Vs ‘Why was I not there?’
I was at my Gran’s hospital bedside each day and for for ages on what turned out to be her last day in 1990 when unknowing what was about to come next, I left to go home and watch Italy Vs England in the Football World Cup. 10 minutes after getting in, the hospital rang saying my ‘nanny Clara’ had passed away, and I hated myself for it right then and ever since.
Years later a similar thing happened with her sister. I was at my Great Aunt and Godmother’s Joaquina’s bedside and all of my family went home not knowing when the fated moment might be, but I decided to stay, I could not repeat this all over again. Within 30 minutes of them going, I was holding her hand when she passed away with only Hannah beside me. I called them all back and then they all felt the same, having missed the moment she left us. The last thing I said to her was, ‘Aunty, mañana en el parque de la Coca-cola’ (tomorrow we’ll spend it in the Coca-cola park together), and moments later she drew her final breaths. This was in reference to when we were kids, she would take us to Sunday mass and after the service she would take us to a park on Trinity road and buy us all coke for us to drink sat on the grass. It became known to us as ‘The Coca-cola Park’. I wish I could tell you it gave me some comfort to have said this to her, and it probably did I guess and that I was there holding her hand, but it gives me equal amount of sadness too each time I think about it still. It was probably the first time that Hannah saw me cry as much as I did, and I could see back then that she was looking at me and learning something very important about life right then. In the years leading up to this time, we had protected Hannah from any such grief though there are stories to tell.
Then soon after came the death of my 28 year old cousin, with who I felt I always had a special bond. I went to be by her bedside at the weekends for a few weeks in a row despite her being a distant drive far away. I could not be there when she passed, but I resent what a travesty her life’s loss came to be all the time.
When Katherine’s Dad Ernest passed away, we were busy getting ready to go to the Hospice to see him as we had done every day. Katherine was devastated to get the phone call saying she had missed it, so soon before being on our way, and I felt like somehow I had failed her and him too.
When Katherine passed away was a moment I will never forget, but I promise you there was no comfort to be had other than the knowledge that I was there, as otherwise you just kick yourself for what you see as failing your loved ones. I wish I could tell you that I took some comfort from that, but in these moments that is just not meant to be. The only thing I knew in that very moment; was that I was no longer scared that I might one day die myself. The thought that when that ever happened, might mean me reunited with my darling, took that fear away. But it was the most single horrible thing I have ever known. Kath was in agony, we had spent the whole day with visitors all coming to say their goodbyes and the day went away in a flash. Her last meal was a light snack of a lobster lunch which my mother rushed home to prepare and bring back to her bedside. It was Katherine’s favourite and our anniversary dish. She had been pining for us to go out and eat Lobster for many months and was waiting to be well enough, but the time never came.
By the time the last of family and friends had gone home it was gone 8.30pm and then I was left there with just Kath’s mum and my mum too. I had little time on my own with Kath from then on and she was so exhausted that we hardly got to say anything meaningful at all. The pain started to overwhelm her and she was drifting in and out of consciousness all the time, barely opening her eyes anymore when I spoke. As the evening went on into the night, they kept upping the medication and painkillers and morphine but they could not bring her pain under control. All I could do for hours on end was hold her hand and keep telling her ‘I’m am here Katherine, right to the end’. But her groans kept getting louder and louder and they were driving me to despair, because it’s not how I wanted the end for her to be. It was not the ending I thought our story would ever be. I wanted her to pass away peacefully in her sleep like she deserved. But she never got that luxury. From about 11am until 3.40am when she died, they could not get her pain free for even a minute and it is like a scene out of hell that plays over and over in my mind, and part of me almost thinks it would have been easier not to have been there at all. She only opened her eyes after so many long hours with her last excruciating yell, but it was a long far off unseeing look and then they slowly closed as she finally slipped away.
I ask myself all the time, why would God let her go through this, and in so much pain right to the end. Why does he put me through this? But I can’t find any answers that help. But what I do think is, that it gives me comfort to think that she is somewhere with him in a place that he can help. That she is reunited with family that miss her and that in all that time, God looked after them too, and that no matter how bitter I could be about things in my life, I need God. I need him in a place where no one else can help, and that is giving haven to my lost departed loved ones, and the kind of health they didn’t enjoy here on earth or anyone else could find for them.
I don’t have the luxury to be mad at God, I need him more than ever. I know he will be there for me long after those in my life be they friends or family have come and gone and leaving me often alone in my life. But more importantly still, I know that God is the keeper of those I love most in my life, and for that I owe him a lot, until such time that I should be fortunate to be reunited again.
Don’t stay angry at God for too long despite any anguish you might have experienced in life. One day you will might be reunited with your loved ones and seeing them back in full health, if and when that ever comes to be, we will feel foolish that we ever questioned why God took them away in the first place.
I hope you are enjoying a full Lobster lunch every day sweetheart. xx