Lessons Learned From the Death of My Beloved Son


This morning I walked downstairs and into our great room with a heart and body full of emotions.  My husband’s big comfy chair by the window was back in place after a few weeks of being upstairs in a bedroom.  We had become incapable of helping Rich navigate the stairs as he lost more use of his body so had moved first his bed, and then the hospice bed into that corner by the window.

We all lived an extremely intense few weeks and his stay here in our home was such a gift.  With the help of his wife and my husband, I was given the privilege of being with him in our home for the last six weeks of his life, and my sister came for the last week.   What would I ever have done with her too!  I was privileged, as well, to be able to do every single thing that a mother could do to save her son.

I have lived for many years wishing I could have a “do-over” raising my children.   I loved them but looking back, I didn’t know much of anything about love, about being fully aware and truly and consistently cherishing them while they were learning about life.   Fortunately I’ve been blessed with many years to cherish and love them and they clearly know how much they are loved and valued.

My daughter lived with me until she left home as an adult but when the boys were pre-teen, they went to live with their father and although only a few miles away, and back and forth between our homes, I often regretted my allowing them to leave.  I missed so much.  The little things and also some of their life-forming experiences.   I can remember at least once that each of them didn’t want to stay there after they had left and I could see in later years that it had impacted them heavily, the fact that I had allowed them to go – even though they wanted to be with their Dad.   At the time, he and I felt they should be allowed to decide where they wanted to live.   It had a heavy impact on all of us.

Many years ago, Rich and I talked it through and he said he had peace but that didn’t change the scars and fear of being alone and feeling abandoned that he lived with for the rest of his life.  Perhaps those issues had less power over him- I don’t know.  I have lived with a lot of guilt that I didn’t hold on to them tighter and refuse to let them leave.  Who knows what was the best for them.  I still don’t know.  I do know that over the years, I’ve been blessed with a very close and loving relationship with both of them.

I, along with my other son and my daughter, were with Rich in the hospital in the state where he lived when he was given the heart-wrenching diagnosis of glioblastoma multiformae Stage IV.  You can read his story here.   He and his wife had wanted to move back home – here in Washington State- for several years. Now was the time.  They packed what they could carry in their suitcases and 3 days later we were on the plane home for treatment at Oregon Health Sciences University and then to Compass Oncology.  Rich didn’t live long enough to get into treatment.  Maybe a blessing.   We were furiously fighting for his life but the tumor was on a mission of it’s own.  The tumor won.

He passed on Tuesday and this is Thursday.  I was in an abyss of grief and despair until last night.  I was adjusting to the change in my life – going from the intense life we had all been living for six weeks – every thought, prayer, breath, action included Rich and fighting for his life.  When he came home from the Hospital a week ago on Thursday for hospice care, I was challenged to change my focus – from fighting to accepting and simply making him comfortable.  That was a heartbreaking change in every aspect of my care for him.  It brought me once again to my knees emotionally and physically – in grief and prayer.

I’m so grateful that my sister and Rich’s wife were here to share my final experiences with my son. I couldn’t have done it without either of them.   My two remaining sisters are very close to him.  I know how I would feel if this were one of their children and I know how much they both love Rich and that they were experiencing very close to what I was experiencing during his final days.  There is huge comfort in shared experience.   Thank you!  I’m so grateful to you, Lynda, for being here.  I know Carlieta would have been here too if at all possible.

I had incredible joy and many “grateful” opportunities seeing my three children together during these weeks – nurturing, loving, caring for one another.   I know very well who they are but it touched me deeply to see them together.  Their living separately as young children had no impact at this point.  That was one of my concerns and pictures of a fractured family.  But this proved to be family at it’s finest.  I saw healing at a deep level for them and I know it was for me.  I am so blessed.

I have watched Rich go through many years of incredible pain, physically and emotionally.  My other son has navigated authentically and courageously through his life challenges and my daughter is a very courageous colon cancer survivor.  All three of my children are my great role models.  Their outlook on life, the way they navigate and function in life, their deep beliefs – somewhat differing but tolerant and strong, inspire me.  They are truly my greatest teachers, along with their children and grandchildren.  I’m so blessed and grateful to have these people in my life.

I’ve learned, on a whole new level, about courage, trust, faith, humor, diversity, loyalty, compassion and truth.

Last night and this morning, I have grief, of course, but that really comes in small waves.  I’ve been given the gift of peace and comfort.  I still don’t know what I believe or how this has come to me.  After the last few days when I’ve felt lost and searching, trying to live what I think is my belief, failing and faltering,  I’m given this incredible peace and feeling of being more deeply grateful than I can ever remember.  And yes even joy!

I still can’t say that I’m able to live my belief but I do know this for sure.  I’m writing it down to remind myself when I need to…we are nothing more than visitors on this earth.  We are gifts and lessons to others.  My children are first and foremost a soul that I’m privileged to know in a special way but they are not mine.  I cannot hold on to them – I simply get to touch them and love them.  And when it’s time for them to move on, I can do nothing but give the best send-off possible and be grateful that I was so privileged.

I’m doin the Grateful Dance.  I was entrusted with that great soul in my life for a little over 54 years.  How deeply blessed am I.

“On the Children” by Khalil Gibran

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

 

 

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My Son – My Prayer


Thanksgiving Day 2015

Rich is still with us and we have that and much more to be grateful for!  He’s having more issues, was in the hospital for 2 days but discharged and was seen at Compass Oncology yesterday.  His daughter and granddaughter arrive today to visit for a few days.  His sons and their families will be here December 3 and we’ll have our Christmas then.  The tree goes up today and we’re looking forward to a precious family day.

I hope that for all of you as well.

Thank you so much for all of your support, prayers, wonderful notes and for sharing the link. We appreciate all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Rich, Brooklyn and Silas

Rich, Brooklyn and Silas Please share this link – help make it go viral! Thank you! https://www.gofundme.com/RichardHart

After a sleepless night of praying, sending good energy and healing to my son, vacillating between shock, numbness, deep grief and yes, fear, I’m writing…my therapy and release.

I’ve read Michael Singer’s book, The Surrender Experience and trying to understand and put into practice what I’m learning.   I don’t want this extremely painful lesson in surrender.

For almost 9 years now, my 54-year-old son has been in unrelenting pain in his back and leg from an unfortunate accident when he was in his early 20’s and a back surgery that increased his problems rather  than helping.   He has been on some pretty heavy pain and anti-inflammatory drugs and for most of this time has tried to get off of them, unsuccessfully.

He’s lived 4 years of his greatest happiness – and reason to keep going – with his granddaughter, and a month ago, a precious little grandson, Silas.   Along with the joy of having Brooklyn in his life, he’s lived with the worst stress for the same four years because of an ongoing custody battle in a very corrupt and expensive court system.  It has taken its toll on every level of his life.

Two weeks ago, he called saying he had been in the Emergency Room with stroke symptoms, stroke being a side-effect of two of the medications he is on.    He had lost feeling in his entire right side, from the top of his head to the tips of his toes.  Although he had lost sensation on his right side and the vision in one eye was blurred when he looked to the side, his pain increased.  He had tried to go off one of his meds and when he restarted it, the symptoms decreased somewhat but didn’t disappear.  The exact scenario repeated a week later with another trip to the ER.  CT and other tests ruled out stroke and he was again released.

Yesterday, he called and said he was going to the ER again for an MRI because the symptoms were getting worse.  He said not to worry, it was the same thing as before but his doctor said he needed to be checked. As the afternoon progressed,  I got a call from his son saying that a CT had shown a very large mass on the left lobe of his brain.  Hours later, he was told it is an inoperable brain tumor, fast growing.

My mantra is – where there’s a will there’s a way.  He lives in another State and I’ll be traveling to be with him.  Rationally I know it’s not possible for me to fix this one but my heart says I must try.  Our family first-line remedies are food and prayer.  I’ve prayed all night.  If I believe what I say I believe – every thought is a prayer, I feel the need to stay positive and send only good energy.  I want to jump in the car and drive but it would take longer to get there than to fly out tomorrow.  I can hardly wait to be with him, make bone broth and green veggie smoothies for him….fill him with organic greens, grass-fed meats, free range eggs….. and on the other hand, I almost cannot stand the thought of seeing him in fear, pain, and knowing that without a miracle, his beautiful soul will be shedding this battered body.  I am struggling…really struggling.

My mind says this is happening and I can choose how I want to be, so be grateful and joyful that I’ve had all of my years with him.  But right now I feel helpless and what in the world can I do to help him and whatever will I do without his phone calls and texts, his wonderful love notes…..my heart is aching.  I think of several close friends and family who have lost children, a 3-year-old niece included, and wonder how their families survived.

I’ve had emotional conversations with my husband, my two sisters and with my other son and daughter who live near me. My daughter and I talked into the late evening hours,  a wonderful conversation, making decisions about how we want to navigate our part in Rich’s journey.  If this is truly happening,  if we’re going to lose Rich, we want to respect and support him in his transition back to God, be joyful and grateful, loving and appreciative of having his important soul in our lives for all of these years.

Right now those are just words that we’re trying desperately to connect to and believe – and live.

Right now, I’m in anguish and resistance and look forward to some respite – some moments of feeling numb and not comprehending that this is really happening to my precious son.

I’m still hoping there has been a mistake and this is just a bad dream…..

Please pray for us…and all who are going thru this and worse.  Please send strength, guidance, peace and healing to all who are in need.

God, please help me know what to say and do, how to make it through this….I want to truly trust, be able to love and support him through his last adventure here on earth.  I held my son when he entered this world and I will be honored to hold him when he transitions.  Just like when he was a kid and got scrapes on his knees..I will hug him and tell him he is OK…all is well…you are loved deeply…We’re here with you, Son…God is with you.  We won’t forget you.  You’ll be so deeply missed.  I’m so blessed to have you in my life and you will continue to be for as long as I live.

Thank you, God, that we have your peace and your comforting presence throughout his transition.

Morning is finally here!  Somehow things seem a little easier with morning light.  For a few moments at least…

I’m sending this out in hopes that collective good energy in thoughts and prayers from so many will help during this time.  Thank you!!

 

11/6/15 Update

Seems like another life ago since my life was normal and it has only been about 3 weeks.  After a week with him in the Hospital, I brought he and  his wife home with me to Washington State and we’re on a new adventure.  He was diagnosed with Stage IV Glioblastoma multiformae.  We are still trying to comprehend the speed of this aggressive nasty cancer.   He’s being seen at OHSU in Portland, by a Naturopathic Oncologist and a Nutritionist in Texas, Nutritional Solutions, who specializes in brain tumors.  We’re doing all we can and very hopeful to prolong his life and make it best quality possible.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and thoughts!

Sharon

Please share the link below – help make it go viral.  Thanks!

https://www.gofundme.com/RichardHart

 

11/16/15 Update

This is a precious time with my son.  He went to live with his father when he was early teens and I missed him so much.  We lived near each other and he was back and forth but I missed the constancy and the little things that happen each day.

Today while he was sleeping, I was sitting nearby and sending love and healing, visualizing the tumor being eaten away by big mouths, visualizing a healthy brain free of cancer, a healing light aimed at the tumor and shrinking it.

It brought back precious memories of when he was a sleeping baby, toddler, and seeing him in his little league baseball uniform.  He made the All-Star Team and really was a little star.  Visions rush through my mind.  I loved to smell his head, his neck, his pillow. I still do.

His right side is now useless and my husband, his wife and I help him up and down the stairs each day – he’s still able to make it.  His son, Calvin, was here for a few days to visit with him and it was difficult on Rich seeing him leave – and difficult for Calvin to leave his Dad.

FullSizeRender

Rich  had a very low energy day but we’re so grateful for today.  Thank all of you for your wonderful notes, prayers, healing thoughts and support.  Every day that we have him with us is a wonderful day!

 

 

 

 

When I Know Better – I Do Better – My Maya Angelou Mantra


I feel that I hurt, turned off, scared, dumped (not about her)  on my daughter yesterday and she’s either hurt or very turned off.    It wasn’t anything devastating, in fact it was expressing myself about my own issues.   But she was trying to help and couldn’t and I have no idea about how she actually took it.   I wish I had taken a deep breath and made sure I knew how she took it.   I have a feeling she somehow ended up feeling guilty about “something”.  If I could have a “do over”, I’d have left her after making it clear to her that she had nothing to do with my pain – I think she knows – but I’d feel better had I made that clear.  That I didn’t expect her to “fix it”.   I feel I left her in my emotional turmoil.  She’s in a pretty painful place right now, going througha divorce, and I imagine our experience yesterday left her with some feelings of her own to deal with.

I  later texted her – her preferred communication – apologizing for expressing my anger and sadness in a way that I didn’t like.  She hasn’t responded.

She’s been in a very fragile state for the last couple of years and I’ve tried to be there for her.   I’m already pretty worn out trying to deal with some of my own presently heavy issues that she is not a part of – and still be there for her.  I realized recently that I’m feeling a little sad that she doesn’t realize – or at least express – any acknowledgement of what I’ve helped her with during her divorce.   It’s clear she’s had a lot of comfort from our talks and being together, a few “A Ha” moments.  She invariably attributes these to others.  She openly and often expresses gratitude for others who are there for her – and I’m so glad they are.  Deeply grateful for the love surrounding her.  She invariably attributes one of “our A Ha moments” to someone else when she’s recounting to me.

Is it my Ego?  Wanting to feel appreciated some times?  Acknowledged?  Does it really matter who helps her as long as she grows and finds her way?  My egoless self would certainly say that and most of the time I do.  While writing this I just realized – I want to know that she feels like my cherished daughter – a special, not to be duplicated relationship, not me as merely a friend.

We’re extremely close but rarely physically affectionate.  We’re more best friends than Mother-Daughter.  I know that’s appropriate for where we are now but I think I was not a “Mommy” – a consistent safe place – when she was growing up.   I still yearn for that feeling between us, even more as I get further away from the time when it was appropriate.   It’s loudly missing – and has always been missing.  She wasn’t a cuddler, but neither was I.   I missed that as a child and I wasn’t even aware of it.  I certainly would never have given it to my kids.  I was pretty emotionally detached in most ways in the past – from everyone – so that I’m so glad that we’ve been able to sustain the closeness that we have and see it grow as adults.  I guess it’s an intense mother-daughter closeness expressed in the best way that we both know how and are comfortable with.

The first time I can remember “feeling” a hug was when my daughter was about five years old.  My sister and brother-in-law were visiting us from out of town and just leaving our home.  We were in the driveway and my sister hugged me – which she did a lot.  All of a sudden I realized that I was being hugged and especially realized that I wasn’t hugging back.  I did it awkwardly.  It was an emotional milestone in my life that I’ll never forget.  That feeling.   I had always just stood motionless when anyone hugged me.  I got plenty of hugs – from my husband, family, kids – but never felt it until then.  That was the beginning of learning to relish hugs.  My children were about 5, 10 and 13.  I weep for the disconnection I taught them.   I wonder what pain and difficulty attaching they have experienced all of these years.   I’ve watched them as adults and they’re all very physically and emotionally affectionate and connected with their families but that missing part of their childhood  has to have affected them in some pretty deep ways?  Maybe they learned what they don’t want to be?  I’ll start a conversation with them at an appropriate time and hope for healing where needed.  I know from experience that it’s never to late.

Thanks Maya Angelou – once again I say to myself… “When I know better I do better”.  That helps.  And now I hug my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren every chance I get.  And really feel it.

And I’m grateful.

Hello and Welcome Dear Great-Granddaughter. I’d like to introduce myself…


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Now – The oh so regal, Little Princess Diaper Head!

Then - That wonderful day!  The day Sydney Sue was born - surrounded with love

Then – That wonderful day! The day Sydney Sue was born – surrounded with love

Little Sydney Sue! You’re such a gift, a miracle.  How did we ever do without you in our family!  How blessed are we!  Welcome!

It takes me back to the birth of your Mommy, my granddaughter.  Her little whiskey voice has always given me joy.  Her humor has brightened my days.  Her creative flair has been evident in her dress, hair and personality.   I have prayed that God would bring just the right man into her life,  just the right mate.  Well, God knows what he’s doing, no question about that!  Enter Nick, your Daddy…

Grandpa Mike and Sydney Sue

Grandpa Mike and Sydney Sue

You, Little Princess, have been anticipated with deep love from a very large family.  You are the first grandchild of my oldest son, your Grandpa Mike.  And he has loved you from the moment you were conceived.   While waiting for you to arrive, I’ve loved my visits to your bedroom, the colors carefully chosen and lovingly designed and carried out by your  Mommy and Daddy.  Your first-time-Grandma, and others added  a helping hand and their touch here and there – painting and loving, touching and anticipating.  Preparing for you.

Your Daddy made an original and perfect name signature for your bedroom door.   Mamma washed everything that would touch you – clothes, bedding, furniture.  And stocked up on antibacterial soap for we visitors.  Grandpa got a changing table for you.  Grandma got a rocking chair.  Great-grandma helped with your crib.  Your beautiful pink and brown room was ready long before you arrived.  Your Godparents were chosen – Auntie Sara and Uncle Eric.  Who better!  You are so loved – already!

Sydney and God Mommy Auntie Sara

Sydney and God Mommy Auntie Sara

Auntie Sara and Ellie hosted a gift shower and your Mommy and Daddy were ready for Sydney Sue to make her appearance….the countdown began.

And finally you arrived!   Your Daddy called and we came to see you at the hospital for the first time.  I cried.  I touched your little hands and little feet.  I ask God to bless and protect you.   And then I got to hold you in my arms!  I got to bless you again.  I am so fulfilled.   I am here for you whenever you need me.  I will sing to you.  I will talk to you.  I will listen to you.  I will be praying for you as long as I’m alive – and longer.

I’m GG, your Great-Grandmother.  And I love you beyond words!

GG and Sydney

GG and Sydney

I’m so grateful and very blessed!