Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Letters to my children

As I approached my surgery to remove a small brain tumor, my own mortality was much more real than ever before. I was lucky to be constantly distracted with appointments and moving. But on those long nights in which the pounding in my head kept me awake, my young children were my obsession.

I wanted to leave something for them in case I was unable to give them advice as they grew. Every thump and slice I felt in my head would compel me to start a list of what I wanted in the event of my death.

I chose my colors and built computer files for my favorite songs, pictures of my life, and people to call. I wanted my husband to have everything he would need easily since he had recently lost both his Maternal Grandmother and his Father. Both died suddenly after recovering from a major illness. 

His Grandmother survived a heart attack, but was done in by neglectful medical systems that ignored her raising clotting times and kept her on meds that were supposed to help her heal without risk of stroke. In truth her heart was so damaged that a few decades ago she would not have spoken another word or seen another day. But she did, and with our new knowledge might have made it if her brain had not hemorrhaged. It was as sudden as the first attack and shook us all.

She was our matriarch. The one lady you could count on to rally the troops when disaster struck the family. The prayer warrior that made everyone feel important and could make you feel like it was truly going to be alright by simply holding you and telling you it would be so.

She was sorely missed when his Dad had a sudden seizure just a month later. He was coming back from a several year battle following a massive stroke which crippled most of his left side and left him with more pain than independence. It was said more than once, "I wish Grandma was still here".

Hours stretched into days, but there was no more struggling for his Dad. The seizure was too long and too complete. His brain was not able to repair itself for life. There was just enough activity for him to be able to wink slightly as his final goodbyes. It was devastatingly sad, yet it was his wish to go.

Both of them wanted to live longer and to be with us, I do not doubt that. But I also feel they were ready, and wanted to leave pain and struggle behind finally.

There are all sorts of opinions on what awaits the human soul, but I do not doubt that there is in fact a human soul that lives on. What I believe, I will not voice yet, but I will say that nothing I believe or disbelieve makes loosing either of them less painful for me. It may make it easier to bear. This thinking of them as happy and pain free now as they wished, but that is all.

So, knowing that. You can see, maybe, why I was sobered to say the least, by the upcoming crainiotomy. They were making sure I knew it was a serious surgery and could have fatal outcomes. The tumor was small but up against the major vessel. Even a success for them (meaning I'm still breathing) could mean I was paralyzed or forever changed from a stroke.

I had no way of knowing if  I would ever again be able to talk, write or see my children. So I started typing up two letters as I had time and energy once settled into our new home. One for my four year old son and another for my two year old daughter.

I created a Living Will, naming my husband, then sister, as my voice and set down with my husband to make sure he knew my feelings and wishes. I did the same with my sister and Mother. I told my son, who was old enough to know a little, that Mommy was going to have her head fixed. He knew after all that I was plagued with headaches and slept a lot anyway. 

He asked me if they were going to fix me. I told him they were going to try and if they couldn't I would wait with Grandma and Papa for him. He smiled and said "With Jesus?", "Yes, exactly" I answered. 

I have long believed that honesty is the best policy, especially with children. So what else could I say? He took it better than I did of course. Children have this perfect balance they bring with them into this world. They just "know" that we are not permanent and nothing we have is ever truly ours. Maybe that's why at two they want to keep everything?

At any rate, I dried my eyes and starting writing. Paragraphs a day. Whatever I could get typed, I saved. And know, with all the 'End of the World' debates raging, I want to share them with you. Whoever you are.

I hope that they help you find an answer you are searching for, or find the strength you need to accept the ones you already found.

I believe in self discovery. So I hope you read them and take them for what they are, letters to my children, and nothing more. While I try to remain open minded, I do not intend to debate issues or defend my stance. I am simply sharing these letters for you to read or ignore. The choice is yours of course, but I hope you at least read them.
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