And you thought a post about cemeteries was depressing….

“I just sat there. I just held Shelby’s hand. There was no noise, no tremble, just peace. Oh god. I realize as a woman how lucky I am. I was there when that wonderful creature drifted into my life and i was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life.” – M’Lynn Steel Magnolias

There was a period of time when my brother and I could quote almost every line of Steel Magnolias. As Southerners, with a batch of Cajun cousins to boot, we connected with many of the characters. We could name the Truvies, Ouisers, M’Lynns, Shelbies, Annelles, and Clairees of our family and friends. That movie was so ingrained in my brain “Before Molly…” (BM? That’s inappropriate/the most appropriate for our family’s digestive history.) On December 29, 2009, I found it a little odd that the above quote from M’Lynn was floating through my mind as I kissed those precious cheeks I had kissed for 18 years one last time. Since Molly came to us through the miracle of adoption, we were not there to witness her birth. It was the most excruciating, ironic, and beautiful thing to escort her from this world into the next. I almost expected Rafiki to come storming in the ICU holding a little lion cub and for us all to start singing The Circle of Life. I always thought M’Lynn’s quote was odd, but immediately, I saw the truth and felt the sting of her words.

One of my oldest friends (more like a brother) is in the middle of the torture/beauty of sitting with one of the most important people in his life as machines do the breathing for him. While I am devastated that the man who is listed in my baby book as my godfather is lying in an ICU bed, I am more devastated that someone I love is experiencing these moments of fear, uncertainty, and doubt as he sits beside him. As I’ve said before, one of the worst parts of grief is being slammed back into a dark place whenever anyone you love is experiencing it too. I keep texting him things that I think about that have provided me peace, but mainly I want Uncle Reid to wake up and this nightmare to be over. In the meantime, I recognize this as a MollyROCK conversation. It’s definitely radical and open to have conversations with people who you are told have no brain activity. I hope that this post never applies to you. Realistically, it will. You will be faced with making huge decisions and watching machines perform life functions for someone you love the most in this world. Perhaps, the machines will be still and you have a few moments before the decline begins. So, I’ve comprised a list of things to say to your loved one when medical professionals say that they can’t hear you. (P.S. I know for a fact that my sister and my granddaddy heard what I said to them in their last moments on Earth. Sorry, Dr. Travis Stork. {I don’t know if he has said that or not, I just like to say his name and think about how cute he his.})

Radical, Open, and Kind Conversation Tips: When it’s one-sided dialogue

  • Touch them. Okay, this isn’t dialogue, more stage directions. Don’t be scared of the machines or hurting them. Don’t put a kink in a tube or pull something out, but chances are they can’t feel pain and/or are on some heavy narcotics. Kiss their faces. Squeeze their hands. Brush the hair out of their face. Remember what they feel like. When Molly came home from the hospital, I was enamored with her ginormous kissable cheeks. Even though the rest of her face grew into her cheeks, I always saw those cheeks as huge and the perfect landing for my lips. In her pre-teens and early teens, I am sure that she was thrilled that her big sis/other mom wanted to kiss her cheeks all the time. When I kissed them in the ICU, I knew that would be the last time, so I made sure that I remembered exactly how it felt.
  • Talk to them. Depending on the amount of time you have, you might feel silly having a one-sided conversation for days. Who cares? Tell them about the Braves game, tell them about the weird doctor that just came in and is wearing mismatched shoes, just talk.
  • Tell them you love them. I know, you’re thinking, “Duh. Idiot.” Sorry Napoleon Dynamite, but when you are in the moment, you might freeze. You might sound like the teacher on Charlie Brown. Just do it.
  • Tell them that you forgive them. This is HUGE. At the moment, you can’t remember the petty fights and silly things that were roadblocks in your relationship. All you can think about is the love and the fear of letting go. However, with any relationship there are hurt feelings and mistakes. Tell them you forgive them and ask them to forgive you. I told Molly that I forgave her for whatever the heck she had just done, even though at the time I couldn’t comprehend the whats and whys of what was happening. When I got to my granddaddy’s side 3 years later, the first thing I did was to tell him that he looked ridiculous with that silver shower cap thing on his head. The second thing I did was to tell him that I forgave him for all of the hurt feelings between members of our family. Then I told him I was jealous he was going to be with Molly. His shoulder moved. After 8+ hours of no movement, his shoulder, the body part that wreaked havoc on Molly— moved!
  • Forget ICU rules and protocol, get whomever you need to be with you and with your loved one in the room when you need them. In Molly’s ICU room, for a few moments, it looked like a Baptist church Homecoming service complete with an Amazing Grace sing-a-long. If ever a time you need people, it’s then.
  • Tell them that it’s okay to go. Just a warning. This will feel like a lie. You won’t want to say this. You will want to scream, “Wake up! Don’t do this! I can’t walk out of this room without you! I can’t get through a minute without you! How in the hell do you expect me to live the rest of my life without you?? How are we going to be a family without you?? You really are Dad’s favorite!” You can do that on the inside, but not on the outside. Tell them that you are okay, that your family will be okay, and that if they need to go, you want them to. It will be the hardest thing that you will ever, ever, ever do. It will crush you, and you might seriously sound like Mushmouth through the snotty tears. Don’t let your selfishness prolong the suffering of one you love.
  • Listen to the peace. I will admit, I wasn’t strong enough to watch Molly’s last breath, and that’s okay. However, with Granddaddy, it was the most peaceful thing I have witnessed. His breaths became more shallow, but only if you were listening closely. Mostly, he just drifted off, and even though the patriarch of our family was gone, our family was still there.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but this is where my heart is today. This is what I keep replaying in my mind. MollyROCK is here to share the good, the bad, and the ugly about all parts of grief, pregnancy, and ugly shower caps that the hopsital insists maintains body heat.

Keep MollyROCK in your daily conversations. Whether they are in the grocery store, the car, home, ICU, or the cemetery.

More than meat loves salt,

EGG

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