Tuesday, January 10, 2017

THANK YOU For One Final Christmas

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When I was 22 years old, my 19 year old sister and I were quickly thrown into making some difficult decisions over a 48 hour period.  We had taken my mom to the hospital because she had lost feeling in one of her legs so badly that she couldn't walk.  She was also extremely bloated and overall not feeling well. She was in the ER for over 8 hours and still didn't have a room by almost midnight. Mom convinced my sister and I to go home and get some rest. I called the next morning and the hospital said my mom was moved to ICU.  I had gone in as soon as visiting hours started and when I got there my mom was heavily sedated.  I don't ever remember her opening her eyes but I do remember her squeezing my hand.  She knew I was there.

I don't recall much more details of that horrible day other than at one point my mom took a turn for the worst and I had to let my family know to come as soon as they could.  I do remember the doctors asking my sister and I for consent to do a blood transfusion and my mom eventually slipping into a coma.  Then at 5:25 a.m. the next morning we were told she didn't make it.  In less than 48 hours my mom's life slipped away from us. We would never hear her voice or feel her hand squeeze ours again.

Ever since my mother's death, we have spent Christmas Eve with my side of the family, usually going to my father's place.  The Christmas Eve before last (in 2015) we decided to gather at my father's new girlfriend's place.  He had divorced his second wife earlier that year (who came into the picture the same month my mother died, so he had been with this woman for almost 15 years).  We had met this new girlfriend on a couple of occasions in the summer of 2015.  She had a bigger place so it was nice to meet up there for Christmas Eve instead of my dad's cramped apartment, plus we had the chance to meet a few of her family members.

That however would be the last day I spent peacefully and spoke kindly with my father.

You see, 2016 was spent with a lot of bitterness and disagreements with my dad.  Not only from me, but his other 2 children as well.  There were many things we did not see eye to eye on, throughout the years, but especially this past year.  I don't remember ever having so much hurt and misunderstanding from my dad. I'm sure he would say the same on his end.  I'm also sure neither of us meant for a year to pass without resolution but it just did.

Earlier in the year, my father quickly got engaged and married for the third time.  His new wife is really a wonderful woman and she did make him so extremely happy.  I'm not sure if my father felt guilty marrying for the third time or for being so happy, but he started bashing my mom to us and I couldn't understand why. They had a very rough marriage toward the end of my mom's life, but with his second wife he talked so highly of my mom and reminisced about the good times our family had. Now with his third wife in the picture, it pained us to always hear how my dad was the good guy and my mom was the bad one.  He would tell us that he only stayed with my mom for us kids, even though he was so unhappy.  Now he deserved this happiness, and he would do everything in his power to constantly justify it to us.  The tensions just built up and I realized that I harbored more hurt feelings than I thought, including how my sister and I were the ones at the hospital for my mom and how my dad had found a new girlfriend so shortly after my mom died. So this past year I just avoided my dad so I wouldn't get upset and he avoided me so that he could be happy with his new family.

After I slipped on ice and broke my elbow in mid-December, my father contacted me.  I thought it was to see how I was doing but he never mentioned the fall or asked how I was.  Our conversations again turned to heated arguments and at one point he accused me of not letting him have a relationship with his grandkids. I explained it couldn't be further from the truth and told him to come spend Christmas Eve with us at my brother's house.  At first he told me he couldn't because he had all of his stepkids and stepgrandkids coming over to his home.  I ignored that comment, again feeling hurt.  Later in the day, he texted me saying he would come for a little bit in order to see the grandkids. This made me happy, I felt it was a compromise since we just were not in a good place this year. Maybe this would be the start of healing our broken relationship.

So comes Christmas Eve 2016.  We were en route to my brother's house when my daughter, who was playing a game on my phone, said Grandpa Louie was calling.  Now had it been any other day this year I probably would have ignored his phone call because I didn't want to fight.  Nevertheless, it was Christmas Eve and on this day we were to hug, kiss, and make up.  This would be our day to enjoy together just as we have the past 15 years.

However on the other line was Angela, calling from Buffalo General.  She explained that she was trying to get a hold of someone in Lou's family and I was the first person they could get a response from.  She said that my dad had just been admitted to the hospital after having had a cardiac arrest. I then quickly phoned my aunt (his sister) and my brother, while my husband called my sister.  We all rushed to the hospital.

After a couple of hours and talks with various doctors, it seemed as if my dad would be OK.  And piecing together what had happened was amazing to us all!  Early in the afternoon on Christmas Eve my father was up at Kohl's customer service standing in line to return something.  He was known for returning items so we laughed at how this annoying trait he has had for years actually saved his life. As he approached the counter to make his return his eyes rolled back and he passed out.  One woman tried to catch him as he fell, then started screaming for someone to give him CPR.  At first we had been told 2 people gave CPR but it seems more like 4 or 5 helped.  Upon the EMTs arrival they had to shock him FOUR times before they saw life in him again.  The whole ordeal took about 20 to 25 minutes and to see my father surviving that with no sign of brain or organ damage, well it sure was a Christmas miracle.

Over the next few days we talked and even laughed with my dad.  I was able to look him in the eye and say I was sorry.  I told him I loved him multiple times.  We helped to feed him, told him stories and jokes, even recounted all that had happened at Kohl's.  We had a lot of tender moments over those few days.

The team of heart doctors were hoping to get a pacemaker/defib unit in my dad before he left the hospital. You see, my dad has had cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure for 21 years and was told that he needed this surgery 2 years ago but he was just too frightened to do it.  He knew the risk, yet at that time he wasn't ready for the procedure.  Now he had no choice and all we needed was his blood pressure to stabilize.

Day of his procedure and the heart surgeon did not like his blood pressure stats, so she postponed the surgery to Friday, Dec 30th.  However when we visited the morning of the 29th his stats had been even lower throughout the night and morning.  They postponed the procedure again until Monday. He was extremely bloated and his nurse told us when she pressed on his abdomen area he was in a lot of pain.  My father mentioned having a hiatal hernia, which his wife confirmed on the spot.  None of his kids knew about this so we did some research on hiatal hernias.  My brother came across a very recent study showing a possible correlation between hiatal hernias and cardiac arrest.  Is this what had happened, yet we missed it because the focus was his heart?  I know he still needed the heart procedure but can't help but wonder if this complicated things for him.  Now his colon and intestines were not receiving enough blood/oxygen supply and so they had to call in the gastroenterology team.  They were talking about possibly removing the colon but again his blood pressure was not in a good place to do any surgery.  They ended up intubating and heavily sedating him mid-morning.  At this point I was so scared.  I had never seen my mom recover from this sort of state and this time around I sure wasn't as naive as I had been with her.

Throughout the day my dad was non-responsive.  I kept talking to him, stroked his hair, and rubbed his arm. We were planning to spend the night at the hospital but after some convincing by the staff we decided around 10 p.m. to go home and get a bit of rest.  We told the hospital to call us if anything changed in the slightest.  At 12:30 a.m. my sister called the hospital to check in - no change.  Around 3:30 a.m. we received a phone call asking for permission to put a blood pressure line through my dad's artery (rather than using the cuff) and also if necessary, dialysis because his kidneys were now failing.  They also told us he had an infection in his blood called sepsis.  We knew this was not good. My sister, brother, sister-in-law, and I rushed over to the hospital.  We also called his wife and my aunt, telling them to come as soon as they could.

The next couple of hours are a blur.  I just remember the 4 of us trying to make sense of things, talking, crying, praying, and then even more crying.  At one point a doctor came out telling us my father might code and asked us what they should do.  We told him to do whatever he could to save my dad. He didn't want to die, that's for sure.

Nothing could ever prepare a person hearing "Code Blue" over the hospital loudspeaker, and knowing that announcement was for YOUR loved one.  The feeling of helplessness as you see doctors rushing in, yet knowing that life is slipping away.  All I could do was scream out "Dad!" and cry hysterically. It was such a horrible moment that I'm not sure I will ever forget.

So it has been a week and a half now, I'm still not quite ready to move on to everyday life again.  My thoughts have been so depressing and I still cannot believe this has all happened. I'm not sure which was harder:  Having my mom die so quickly at age 42 without a chance to say goodbye or having my father recover from a miracle, being able to make amends, and then still losing him at age 59. It sure doesn't give me hope that my gene pool is stellar.

I'm trying to get back into blogging on the deals and coupons but my heart just isn't into it yet.  I'm also trying to focus on the kids and my family.  I'm truly blessed to have them in my life and I know I have to move on for them.  Depression hits hard and I know this, but I still feel like the sadness is just swallowing me up.  Of course having a broken elbow on my dominant arm isn't helping my mood. It's harder than I thought doing simple things like putting my hair in a ponytail or bringing a spoon to my mouth.

I am extremely thankful to all of those people that helped my father recover on the afternoon of December 24th.  Everyone that held him, administered CPR and other life-saving procedures, I will be forever grateful for what you did for my dad that day.  Even though he sadly did not fully recover, I am so thankful I had the chance to tell him I was sorry and that I loved him.  If I hadn't had that chance...lets just say I am glad I don't have to think about that.  I will forever remember the few days of laughter, love, and joy that we shared for one final Christmas together.

Christina


R.I.P. Dad

31 comments:

  1. This makes me cry. I'm glad you had the chance to talk with your Dad before he passed. It's difficult when you've had a strained relationship but thankfully you were able to tell him you loved him and say you were sorry. I'm sure he knew you loved him, but it was probably wonderful for him to hear you say it. Please hang in there, don't worry about blogging, we shall muddle through on our own. As the days go by you will cry a little less but you'll think of your Dad everyday, remembering things good and bad. It's hard to lose a parent. My thoughts are with you. Hugs to you. Hope you have a speedy recovery for your elbow.
    Karen R. (Long time WNYDealsandtodos follower!)

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    1. Thank you so much Karen. I received your sympathy card too, thank you for that!

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  2. So sorry for your loss, Thanks so much for sharing your feelings, it really makes you realize how short life is.

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    1. Thank you Kelly. I don't like to share personal details or complain as much as I have been, but it has just been a difficult time for me. I know there are people out there dealing with a lot worse but I figured I would share some of my story. Life sure is short...

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  3. You have had so much to deal with in the last month! My heart aches for you. I am so sorry for your loss as well as your accident. Give yourself time!! Take as much time as you need. You and your family must come first! We miss reading your blogs, but nothing is as important to us followers as your health and happiness. Losing a loved one is hard, but definitely so much harder during the holidays. I have been there myself. Focus on taking care of your family and yourself and eventually you may feel like blogging again. Even if you don't feel like blogging at least keep us posted on how you are doing because we really care about you. Love and prayers! Cheryl (PS-had to comment anonymous because I do not know how to do the others...)

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    1. Mary Armstrong1/11/17, 11:01 AM

      Loved your message.

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    2. Thank you, Mary!

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    3. Thank you so much Cheryl! It's so nice to feel such love and caring from our community. My followers really do mean the world to me.

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    4. You are welcome! You mean the world to us, too! Continued prayers for peace, comfort and hope! Give yourself time!(It isn't like a cold that you can bounce back from in 10 days) We are all thinking of you with love and care! God Bless you and your family!

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  4. I am truly sorry for your loss and admire you for your strength to tell all this to us in such loving details. Your Dad knew you loved him, sometimes it's hard to admit. Please take time to heal yourself and your family before you worry about the blog. We're not going anywhere, we will be here when you feel up to returning. God knows you are a strong person because he won't give you more than you can handle. Try to smile everyday. We love you!

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  5. Natalie Hall (Hollmer)1/10/17, 9:43 PM

    Christina, I was saddened when my dad called and told me about Uncle Louie...I am sorry to I wasn't able to make it to the church..I remember the fun times we had at your house when we were kids...Wish we would have stayed in touch more...I lost both my step dad and step mom this past year so I understand some of what you are feeling/going through,if you ever need a lending gear I am here...Thoughts and prayers are with you guys...

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    1. ***lending ear

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    2. Thank you Natalie. We did have so many good times back in the day! I'm sorry you lost both of your step parents this past year too. Thank you for the thoughts & prayers too.

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  6. I am so sorry for your loss but so glad that you and your Dad had a chance to make amends. I know it's hard and it will be for a long time. What helped me when I lost my Mom was remembering all of the good times. Even though you and your Dad had a rough year, I am sure in past years there were plenty of special times together. Hang onto those memories.

    At my young age of 69, I have been through many family deaths and I have learned one thing that is so important. Life is fleeting so love your family and tell them that every day. They truly are the most important people in your life. Your website can wait for when you are ready and we will all be here when you come back. I also hope that your arm heals quickly.

    Sandy

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    1. Thank you Sandy! It has been a heck of a month. I am just recovering from a week of strep throat now. Hoping that brighter days are ahead.

      I have a ton of great memories with my parents, so I'm definitely trying to hang onto those. My sister and brother are years younger than me, so they don't remember as many of the good times and it helps that I get to share stories with them. It's easy for me to think "what if", or "I wish I had done this". Death has reminded me that creating the fun times and good memories are so very important, so I try to stay cognizant of that. I love my family so much. Thank you again Sandy!

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  7. i want to tell you how moved i am about the events of your life, and that i am sorry for your loss of your mother and father. i hope that the good memories will sustain you and be foremost in your mind. now they will both be guardian angels for you.

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  8. This is so beautifully written, absolutely touching. Moved beyond tears for your losses! Life isn't fair sometimes! Very happy for you and your family to have had this last Christmas together and share your love for one another. I wish I could have had such a "goodbye" with my father, as well as shared apologies. Bless you and I pray for your healing and ability to move forward with comfort in your heart. As far as depression, that is quite the battle. Speak up and out to others, share how your feeling and accept your emotions as they are relevant. Thank you so much for sharing this heartbreaking yet heartwarming life story of your family.

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    1. Thank you so much Michelle. I'm sorry you didn't have a chance to say goodbye to your dad. I had always wished I had a chance with my mom, so I know the heartbreak when you don't get that. I appreciate your comment & suggestions. Thank you again for reading my story & praying for my family. <3 Christina

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  9. Beautifully written story Christina. We are here for you, and take all the time in the world to come back when you are ready! Love to you and your family
    ~Megan LeBeau

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  10. Mary Armstrong1/11/17, 11:24 AM

    For everyone, thank you for your support for our friend Christina. What a wonderful way to show that you are considerate to all aspects of her pain and suffering, her abilities and of her loss.She truly is a gift to people in life and I feel with our support along with her new found comfort and peace that she too will find herself feeling more and more each day a new Christina. A stronger Christina. A happier Christina. Holiday loss is horrible, I have experience with my step father asking for my help to put on his socks one Thanksgiving day( the last day he spoke to me when he said if he goes to the hospital he knows he is not coming back), the day of which he was whisked off to a Buffalo hospital to where he never came home from until Februrary the next year, blue, cold, and in a box straight to be returned to the cold unwelcoming earth layers of which he was sweetly lowered into the below zero day . Heartbreaking yes, but one truth so many seem to forget is that if we can share love, kindness and giving on a holiday and call it a holiday celebration, what do we call all the other days we share this? You see, we are truly blessed with the ability to put others before ourselves each day and this helps keep us going stronger each day just as it helps to keep our communities moving in a more positive direction sometimes. Love defeats, Kindness defeats, and respect defeats. I am so thrilled that you (Christina) was able to swallow deeply and to breathe those smuthering workds out to your father as you felt them all along and I think he really knew it. Sometimes we have to parent our parents. Christina, I am so proud of you.I am sorry you are physically hurting with your pain and limitations. Pain causes stress.Try to find little ways to savour some time while you are restricted like having the kiddos bring warming beverages and for them to read to you and to turn pages. Your mind can wonder away to another quiet place all the while and no one would know but you.I allowed my children to do this so called pampering when I had my feet done. They coudn't really read as they were too young but I do remember the happiness it gave them and the feeling of relaxation that I had as I didn't have to chase them boys around the house for a bit while on crutches. Christina, WE TRULY APPRECIATE YOU AND RESPECT YOU, take all the time away that you need. Just think of it as a new years resolution in helping us to save money as most times I see deals, I only want them because the deals ARE GREAT, Betting I am not alone here with the exception that I have no stockpiles, no stash, I buy mostly what I need. Thank you for being so honest in your story.Your story may have me calling a few poeple of which I hold a strong love for but a stronger annimosity many levels above that love which helps me to keep distance.I always think I am saving myself from pain but everytime I think of them I am already in pain because of our distances. You showed a GREAT BRAVERY in your approach and risked jeopardizing your own comfort zone boundaries all with your approach. I AM SO HAPPY it worked out for you in a positive way.Even though it was only for a short duration, you had happiness and you gave happiness. THANK YOU AGAIN for just being you and sharing your life with so many strangers who all love you. A long time follower as well.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement Mary. Love and happiness sure are the best things this life has to offer us. I am so fortunate to be loved and surrounded by many wonderful people. Helping others makes me very happy, so I know that joy will get me motivated once again some day soon. :-)

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  11. Stephanie Masiello1/11/17, 2:10 PM

    I am very sorry for your loss. No matter how old we are, we are still our parent's "child" and learning to live without them is hard. I lost my mom 11 years ago (she was only 55) and I still feel her loss today. Thankfully I still have my dad. I am glad you were able to make peace with your dad before he passed. Unresolved feelings hurt more than the loss sometimes. I'm certain you were loved very much -- never forget that! Things will get easier. We are all here for you!!

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    1. Thank you Stephanie. I'm sorry you lost your mom at such a young age too. I do have a lot of great memories and photos, so I will be sure to treasure those.

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  12. I am sorry for your loss, I am crying with you and for you because I lost my Aunt Christmas week. It was a massive heart attack, she was 62. I know the pain and grief your feeling, the sadness and I feel selfish because my Aunt isn't here for me anymore. It is a blessing you got that extra time with your Father before his passing. I have so many things I wish I could have said, but I try hard to focus on the memories that make me laugh. We all have our own grief process and a friend told me that when I hear or feel my Aunt it means she is with me. Christmas will never be the same for us, but know that you are not alone and even if it feels like it will never get easier time heals. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and we will both focus on not making the same mistakes of the past. Thank you for helping me also.

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    1. I am so sorry for your loss too! Death is so hard but even moreso during/near a holiday. I feel selfish at times too because my parents aren't here for me. I am very lucky to have had the extra few days with my dad. Definitely focus on the good memories with your Aunt. People say it gets easier with time, which in some ways I guess it does. If you have some favorite photos you might find making a collage of your Aunt helps. I did that with my parents. Also I wrote a journal of my feelings after my mother's passing. I'm planning to do it for my dad now too. It is just still so unreal to me. I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts as well. <3 Christina

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  13. My heart goes out to you in your time of need. I lost my father when I was ten years old and my mother when I was thirty-nine and your story brought tears to my eyes. The pain is still there but I find comfort knowing that I will see them again in heaven. God is with you. lean on him for comfort.
    I found this saying that I thought might bring you a bit of comfort: “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy.”

    – John 16:22

    - See more at: http://www.psychic-readings-guide.com/quotes-about-grief/#sthash.AA8q7WVQ.dpuf

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure that was not an easy thing to do. I pray for you and your family for an overflowing abundance of love for each other that will bring an abundance of joy until you meet again.
    Take special care.
    Liz

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    1. Thanks so much Liz. I'm sorry you lost both of your parents at young ages too. I'm trying to pray and understand more...death is just so hard.

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  14. so very sorry for the loss, please take all the time you need to heal and process what all happened - he was a very handsome man, a man you loved and I am so sorry it was this soon. We all have our stories in this life we have on earth - may he find peace, comfort and forever rest in heaven.

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