Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Last Week I Was With My Brother Charles

Okay, I've tried writing a summation of last week's events several times but have refused to post since none of it makes sense. I am still trying to work through it all in my own head let alone get to the point that I can tell others in a logical narrative what the hell happened. I am feeling lots of anger and confusion still. As I wrote I found that I was revealing a lot of "family secrets" about the asinine and terrible dysfunction my family suffers. Secrets, that if revealed, would doom me and my sister Teresa to be even further outcast from their ranks, if that is even possible. Jacklegs (interlopers) are what we are considered.

None of this is making any sense either. Maybe I should just give up and not try to relate what happened. No, I am writing it all elsewhere. A sort of stream of consciousness recounting of the week filled with pain and joy and fear and peace all at the same time. Maybe it will appear here in this blog and maybe not. I don't know. There are too many family secrets revealed. Too many personalities exposed for their true selves. Personalities that have remained hidden till the glaring reality of the hospital death bed revealed them for who they really are. Who they have been all along. Who I've known them to be most of my life.

This reads like nonsense. Like the sweaty hallucinations of a madman. I am not mad. I am angry. I am angry at people and their ignorance. I am angry at doctors and their inadequacies. I am angry at Charles for smoking. I am angry at myself for living so far from him. I am angry at myself for being weak and helpless to save him or comfort him. I am angry at myself for having to come back to Atlanta. I am angry at myself for not being able to write my thoughts clearly. I am angry at myself for being a coward and not telling the straight facts about what happened. I am angry for the fear I have of sharing the truth. I am angry at Death. Fuck you, Death, you filthy rotten bastard!

No, that didn't make me feel any better. In fact, it makes me a little bit scared.

All of this and yet... and yet, I have peace.

"A peace that passeth all understanding."

I got to spend quality time with Charles. The kind of time that only two brothers can share. Honest (finally) quality time with honest (finally) talk and honest (finally!) love. We held each other. I kissed him again and again and he never made a single crack about questioning my sexuality. We never could have done that before. Before this. Before Death stood in the doorway waiting for Charles to give up. For Charles to go "home". We wept together often and yes, we even laughed together. Especially when the thunder storm rolled in outside the hospice window and he reminded me of when we were kids all sleeping in the same room and we would claim the next thunder boom as our "fart" and giggle... quiet, stifled giggles so we wouldn't arouse our father's anger... late into the night stifled giggles under the covers between thunder boom farts. He laughed in Death's face with a childhood remembrance.

At this moment (and isn't that all we really have?) Charles is still breathing on his own with a trach (tracheotomy). He has new cancers attached to his brainstem, he has new soft tissue masses blocking his airway, the "old" cancers have not responded to the additional radiation and chemo treatments. There will be no further treatments and his remaining time is short. There are signs of his organs and bodily functions shutting down. Maybe only days or possibly weeks left.

But, he does have some time he wouldn't have had if the plans of last Monday had come to fruition. Had "the family" had it's way and "pulled the plug" at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time. Had not the doctors wanted to hear from Charles himself and administered a "narco" shot to counter the sedatives so they could present him with a possible alternative to suffocation I may be writing a totally different post now.

So Charles continues his fight for life. He refuses to cave in and let the cancer beat him. He moves along his spiritual path and has become an even greater blessing than before his illness. Charles is a good man and people have come forth to thank him for saving their lives in various ways. Charles wrote, "That's what made life worth living for me. I never felt more alive than when I was helping someone else better their life."

If the doctors hadn't awaken Charles I would not have gotten my chance to share what has been probably the most traumatic and wonderful week of my life with my brother. A week I will never forget and will always be grateful for. The week that ended with us both finally saying a real "good bye". I will still fax and call Charles every day but we've said our good byes and I have a peace that all is as it should be.

Charles isn't giving up even though his body is. Today he went fishing at the pond on the VA grounds with his son, Jason and his little brother Carroll. He was telling me how much he wanted to go fishing and catch one of those big ones that all the other Vets were talking about. Stocked pond, catch and release enforced, lots of big fish waiting for Charles. Can't wait to "hear" his fish story tomorrow. He can't talk... just taps on the phone once for yes and twice for no or has someone talk for him while he writes. I can just see him now being wheeled down to that pond and anxiously waiting for his fish to bite.

From ICU to hospice in a week. From pulling the plug on life support to a trach tube and breathing on his own in a week. From emotional hell to blessed heaven, "There are no tears in heaven," he reminded me. I cling to the hope that he is right. He told me that he would figure out a way to let me know that he got there alright and he would be waiting for me when I arrived myself. He told my sister to be looking for him in her dreams because he would do his best to be there. Oops, there I go talking silly craziness again. 'Scuse me, folks.

So, I couldn't write all the gory but factual details at this point in time, the way I really wanted, because of my fear of riling the demons of family dysfunction and causing further emotional destruction. So be it. What has come out here is what will remain here for now. The rest will surface over time as I exorcise my own demons in writing as I deal with the thick ugly scars of my past as revealed in the present behaviors of some "family members" during this trying time. Somehow I am looking forward to that.

Yeah, none of this rambling makes any real sense, does it?


Abby Taylor said...

Every single word of every single line makes perfect sense. Extraordinary grace, dignity, and transformation to those who allow it to happen.

Pam said...

Makes perfect sense to me. My husband lost his brother last month, he committed suicide (shot himself). None of us could understand why. But sometimes death brings a certain clarity to this world. You see, my husbands mother kept all 3 of her boys separated through lies all of their adult lives. The brothers never talked to each other because their mother always told them the other brother never wanted to talk to them and so forth....Well we're finding out my husbands brothers death was in vain. He was having money problems and health problems things that the other 2 brothers could have fixed for him in a snap of a finger. He felt he couldn't reach out to us because of all the lies he was told. His parents knew of his troubles and never said one word. Now they have a died son because of their lies. And we no longer have a brother. Since his death, the 2 brothers no longer listen to their mother and tell each other how much they love each other everyday. The mother, well, I refuse to have anything else to do with her. Sorry for the long post. I'm just so glad you had quality time with your brother and each of you know how much you mean to each other. Pam

Tony said...

Thank you, Abby.

Pam, don't apologize for a beautiful sharing of yourself that spoke to my heart at a very special level and at just the moment I neede it. You helped me with something that was on my mind that I haven't even discussed with anyone yet. Seems we've had some similar situations to deal with. Thank you and bless you.

B said...

Thank you for stopping by to visit and comment. It brought me here to visit, and that was a wondrous thing.