Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Reluctant Farewell

This has been another week of conflicting emotions.

My sister-in-law Pamela (she graduated to "Pamela" from "Pam" shortly after her marriage), having been born dead some 58 years ago and resuscitated, was saddled thenceforth with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and then grew into diabetes and Crohn's disease, among other unpleasant things.

A few months ago, in August, she had a discussion with God and her husband -- a genuine saint if ever there was one -- and then made the decision to forego any further blood transfusions or hospitalizations. They all peacefully began to make preparations for her transition from this life to the next, beginning with getting her set up with a home hospice service. She was positively giddy when she called to let us know that she had been accepted into the hospice program, and that she really liked the ladies who would be her caregivers. You would have thought she'd won a trip to Disney World.

My other sister-in-law and her daughter traveled to see Pamela in the early fall for the last time -- they had a nice visit.

My husband was not so much at peace with Pam's decision. He and his brother plotted ways to make her continue the fight to stay alive, because, well, that's just what you do -- you stay alive. Or you throw money at problems and they get all better.

They wanted her to continue the fight -- until they came face-to-face with the magnitude of the task of staying alive. Her husband, an R.N., emailed a complete synopsis of her various diagnoses and treatments, together with a list of the medications she had to take daily and their out-of-pocket cost.

The cost was pretty staggering, but the cost was not what helped them accept Pamela's decision. The fact that she would be faced with transfusions every single month and still hurt and be worn out; that she no longer had the strength to sew the blankets that she had lovingly stitched and donated to babies the world over; that she couldn't sit long enough to attend worship services; that she could no longer make her fingers work well enough to play the organ their beloved aunt had given her -- those things helped them find the peace in her decision.

But when the call came Monday evening from her weary husband, my strong, brave man still wept for the loss of his baby sister. We both shed hot, bitter tears for our loss.

For Pamela, we rejoiced.

I told Pepper that Pamela was probably playing the organ -- or even the oboe, if she chose -- or dancing with Aunt Del. He sniffed and said, "No one can really play the oboe. But, I can picture them dancing."

She never could really move the way she would have liked to here on Earth. Now, I'll bet she's in the Top 20 of "So You Think You Can Dance -- Heavenly Edition."

We lay her to rest in a few days, even though she's already found her way to eternity. And I seriously doubt whether she'll rest at all -- there's too much dancing to catch up on.


  1. Life is just SO very difficult sometimes. My condolences to Pamela's family, your husband and you, Moogie. You wrote wonderfully about such a painful subject.

    As you know I have a "friend"... my ex-, actually, who is facing this situation with her brother. It hurts to watch all this pain, even from afar.

  2. My condolences for your loss, however, when one knows their eternal destination in the hereafter, we can only be envious - ditto what buck said - a very fitting tribute.

  3. Thanks for your support, my bestest blog-buddies. I think Pam would like this, even though she rarely dabbled in politics and wasn't crazy about our penchant for happy hour and mild debauchery in New Orleans.

  4. I like to think about dancing in heaven. In her new body without the physical limitations she had on earth, it must be awesome for her!
    It is sad to be left behind, and my thoughts are for Pepper and your family as you grieve this huge loss.