Saturday, January 18, 2014

The most selfish post I'll ever write

These last few days have been the absolute worst days of my life.

My sister has been sick for a while now. That's the "family stuff" and the references to cancer that I've been making. About six years ago... maybe seven. I don't remember- Melanie found out she had ovarian cancer. It was awful. She did the chemo thing and was sick and lost her hair- but after six or so months they declared her good to go. For five years she lived relatively healthily- I mean, she had other health issues- but cancer was not one of them.

We all became very involved in Relay for Life and she did everything she could to raise funds for it. Cancer is a naughty word. Cancer is evil. Cancer needs to die. If cancer had a face, I'd punch it. She was so grateful to be well again that she did everything she could to assist researchers looking for a cure.

About a year and a half ago she started getting pains in her hip. I thought maybe her back was out of whack and told her to go to a chiropractor... really long story short- the cancer had returned and made itself at home in her bones. So radiation started. That didn't work so they went back to the ol' chemo. They did half a round of that and found it wasn't working so they changed her to a different kind of chemo. That meant she was sicker longer- but had a better chance of clearing it up again.

During all this chemo hell she insisted on continuing to work. She had the work ethic of a House Elf. She loooooooved being able to work. So in January when she had a seizure- she was very upset with us all when we told her to take time off work and concentrate on healing her body- THEN she could go back to work. In May-ish she had another seizure. She had to surrender her drivers license which was really hard for her because that took away a big chunk of her independence. Yet through all of this, she continued to work. She went back to work in Juuu---- July I think- maybe late June after our trip to Disneyland.

She was walking with a cane all that time- and some of it was in a wheelchair. When we went to Disneyland she rode in her little motorized cart. It was a Godsend- otherwise she wouldn't have had the strength to make it through a day- let alone the whole trip.

Then we got word that the chemo was working- but not enough. She just had too much cancer. So they gave her three options. 1. Try a different chemo (not really recommended because the body can only take so much, ya know?) 2. Go to Huntsman for clinical trials or 3. do nothing and let nature take its course. She opted for number 2.

Off to Huntsman she went. It was a blessing for me because she had to spend so much time in Salt Lake I got to see her a lot. I'm so grateful for that. She was so determined to beat the demon cancer. And again- through all of this she was working full time. I came home a lot in those weeks. I just wanted to be near her.

Then that terrible, awful, horrible day in November, they told her there was nothing more they could do for her. The trial drug was working on her cancer- but her liver was shutting down. They told her go on disability and apply for hospice. Even then, she told them she'd just do everything she could on her own to get better enough to go back on the study- because she was determined to win.

She refused to go on hospice- and was so ticked off that she couldn't work. We knew what was coming- but I can't lie- I hoped for a miracle. I prayed and prayed and prayed for a miracle- but the worst part of a prayer is the "but if not..." part. I hate the "but if not". I just wanted it MY way.

We had the most amazing Christmas. We were all here. All of us. My little brother and his family came and my sister and her kids came down as well. The picture of us in our Christmas Jammies is our last family picture. But it was so much fun.

After that she began to slowly withdraw. She was never able to go home after that. She stayed at my parent's house. She just wanted to go home- but she couldn't. She'd been sleeping in my bed in the basement, but then the stairs became too much for her and she had to stay upstairs.  I came home every weekend I had off. She was so happy for me when I told her I was going to finally be able to move. She was just sad she wasn't going to be able to help me move. Just this last Monday as I was leaving, I kissed her on the head and told her to just concentrate on feeling better enough to drive down and see it when it's finished. She agreed.

Shortly after that she took a turn for the worse. Thursday night I chatted with her on the phone for a few seconds. She didn't really know what she was saying and I guess after they took the phone away from her- she continued to talk to me. Just knowing that breaks my heart. Talking to Melanie was my favorite thing in the world. She understood me.

I decided I needed to come home. I called into work and Friday hit the road. When I walked in the front door, they'd gotten a hospital bed for her and put it in the living room. We didn't want her in a bedroom- shut away from everyone because she so just wanted to continue to be a part of it all.

She was coherent enough to recognize me to say hello and ask me how I was doing. I barely recognized her. I said a cheerful hello- then ran down to my bedroom to bawl. That was not my sister. I knew it was close. My brother and his family came shortly after that. That was the last time I personally saw her smile- and saw her eyes. When I lifted up my little nephew and said to her, "look who's here!!" She kind of opened her eyes- then when she saw who it was her eyes flew open wide and she got a huge grin on her face and said, "HI!!!" He just giggled. He was so happy to see his Nono. Later my sister and her kids came and she was able to murmur a hello to them and again- ask how they were. She was always concerned about others. Never a thought for herself.

The last coherent sentence I personally heard her say was "I love you guys." We all told her how much we loved her. We surrounded her the whole day and took turns holding her hands. We had Disney music playing in the background. When we were all finally in the same room at the same time, my dad and brothers gave her a blessing and just asked her to be at peace and for God to welcome her home.

I turned off the Disney music and turned on my Mormon Tabernacle Choir station. The spirit was very strong and when the song, "I Need Thee Every Hour" came on just after midnight, she took her last breath. We were nearly all there. My older brother couldn't be there because he was home with his kids- and the other kids were all downstairs asleep. It was peaceful.

I knew it was the best thing for her. She'd fought so hard for so long. She was so sick, in pain and so sad that she couldn't live her life the way she wanted. She was a very independent person and it was so hard for her to have help with every little thing. And I know that she is out of pain.

But I am the most selfish person who ever lived because I didn't want her to go. I'm not done with her. There are adventures we haven't taken and books and movies to read and watch. TV shows to discuss and conversations to have.

I talked to Melanie almost every day. She knew absolutely everything about me. She knew when I was happy and angry and everything in between. She knew my frustrations and would talk me through them. There is honestly no other person in this world I can talk to like I talked with her. She was my best friend. She was everyone's best friend. Seriously- so many people in the last few days have said they felt that she was the only one who liked them. 

She absolutely did not tolerate gossip. If we would start talking crap about someone she'd come to their defense- even if she agreed with us- but did not allow it to continue. It bugged me sometimes. You know sometimes when you just want to vent about someone stupid-? Well, you just learned that you couldn't go to her to do it.

It's super cliché to say that she was the kindest person I ever knew- but she literally WAS the kindest person I ever knew.

Everything I am I am because of her. I am a Trekkie- because of her. I know every word to every Disney song ever written- because of her. I constantly have my nose in a book- because of her. I wanted to become a writer- because of her. I love theater- because of her. Literally everything about me is a direct result of having her as a sister (the good stuff anyway- the bad things about me are alllllll me).

I'm sad. There is just no other way to put it. I can't handle the preparation crap. I wrote her obituary yesterday. That's not how things are supposed to go. We were supposed to be little old ladies together. I would have happily written her obituary in like, 30 or 40 years. Her birthday is in a week and a half. She would have been 48. It's too young. TOO YOUNG DAMMIT!!!

So many people have been so kind- bringing food and the outpouring of love has been overwhelming. And to be honest, I don't know how to respond to it. I'm not good at this whole death thing. It sucks. I don't recommend it. Anyway- to those of you who have visited- or have sent kind texts or messages thank you. I'm really not handling this well and I don't know what to say or do. I posted yesterday that it felt like I'd been kissed by a Dementor. I can't think of a better description. I feel like my soul has been sucked out. I have to keep drinking water to refuel the tears.

I know where she is. I understand The Plan. I'm not sad for her. Like I said, I know she's out of pain and is having a lovely reunion on the other side. But I'm sad for me. I have to live the rest of my life without my best friend. I have to get used to not talking to her every day. Do you know how hard it's going to be the next time I read a book and pick up the phone to call her so I can tell her about it?

I just don't know how to do this.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Late Bloomer

I've always thought that I was a little behind everyone else. All my friends had their first dates at 16 (or thereabouts) I was 19 when I had my first sort of date- I'm still waiting for my first honest-to-goodness-he-asked-because-he-wanted-to-and-I-accepted-because-I-wanted-to date. When I was in my early 20's I offended all my friends by telling them I didn't want to hear their baby poop stories. I couldn't relate to that and I just didn't want to hear it. I always felt left out of those conversations. I still do- but at least now I have niecephews to reference if I need to throw something out there. Of course I was too stupid and selfish to see that- that was what was going in their lives and it was interesting to them- just like whatever lame thing I wanted to talk about was interesting to me.

I always seem to be two steps lagging. Normal people my age are married with a herd of kids. I met someone yesterday who is a year younger than I and she is a grandma (yow! they all start early in that family apparently.) I'm not saying I envy that. In no lifetime would I want to be a grandparent at 36. bleh... But a lot of my friends have kids who are in high school. It will only be a couple of years before their kids start going on missions and then getting married and my friends become grandparents!!

So I feel stupid talking to people about the things I'm dealing with right now. I'm moving. I found an affordable little place in a not too shady part of town and I'm in the process of getting my crap together so I can move in. It needs to be cleaned first and then they are going to let me paint and then I'll move in. I'm excited. Really- I am. I can't believe the incredible luck I'm getting on the deal of this apartment!

But I hear myself saying things like, "I own a couch! How grown up am I!?" and realize... that's something a 20 year old would say. Sure, I've lived away from home before- but I've never *owned* anything (I have a bedroom set. I insisted on that when I moved to Colorado. I slept on an air mattress till I could afford my bed and I got a matching dresser and nightstand to go along with it. So yeah- I guess I did own one thing). 

Everything else though was always owned by someone else- either that or we found it out near the dumpster and brought it in (that only happened once... maybe twice... and the other time, the couch was found in the mountains so that doesn't count as by a dumpster, although it is just as nasty- but we were young and stupid and didn't think about critters and cooties that might also take residence).

All the normal people I know have already been dealing with these things for years! They're mostly all past the rental stage and are *gasp* homeowners! I just feel like I relate more to dinky college kids more than I do to people in my own age group. I'm about 15 years behind in life (more than that in some areas). 

I may not be expressing myself in the way I had planned when I started writing this. I shouldn't have watched a sad movie and then sat down to write. That's never helpful. Plus I'm just so overwhelmed with everything right now. Moving. Work. Painting. Family. Traveling... I don't know where to start so I hide in my room and take naps so that it will go away. 

I bought a washer and dryer today. Yeah- that required a long nap to recover from the stress of that commitment. I'm not cut out for this kind of crap. This crap that most people call day to day life. Where the hell was I 20 years ago!? Why haven't I learnt any of this by now? I guess my slow boat to reality sank in the harbor.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Funny Christmas tids and a little announcement

Hey- Happy New Year!

There are a few funny things I always want to remember from this past Christmas. I need to write them down here because I keep forgetting to write it in my journal. Christmas was only a week ago so I don't feel too bad sharing these now that the season is officially over.

First thing- my whole family was home for Christmas. That in and of itself was pretty miraculous. It's been a looooooooooong time since we've all been home. It was very special to have everyone there. But *because* everyone was there, it got interesting when it came time to go to bed.

I gave my bed to my sister, Melanie. Kim also slept in my room on the little couch. Travis and JaNeil were in the play room, and their kids had the other two spare rooms (they won't go to sleep if you put them together so the two smallest kids got their own rooms) :-/

ANYWAY, my other sister Valeri and her kids were on air mattresses on the floor in the family room. My brother Randy lives close enough that they just went home and slept in their own beds. That was all the available space there was. Hmmm... where to put Bakeshow...? I thought, "Meh- it's just one night. I can sleep in a recliner. My sisters do it all the time."

I want you to have the picture in your mind: family room (dad's man cave) with two air mattresses on the floor mashed up together so there is no walking room and two recliners near the head of the beds. Are you with me? So I chose the chair nearest the bed the kids were sleeping in. I lifted the foot rest thingy and teased my niece about sleeping with my feet in her face- I was right above her head.

I laid there for a loooong time- hours- unable to sleep. Not because of excitement, but because I couldn't get comfy. Whenever I started to doze, I could feel my mouth hanging open and I got visions of things crawling in- so I thought I'd try to curl up in a ball and lay on my side a little. I was like that for about 7.5 seconds when the chair tipped backward. There I was. In the dark. Not asleep but not completely with it, upside down. I thought, "should I just try to sleep like this? Naaahhh... I can't do that." So I tried to straighten my legs to see if I could tip the chair back up and WHAM!!! the chair came apart- the seat (with the open foot rest) slamming back down to the floor. The niece woke up with a "WHAT THE HECK?!" I had narrowly missed mashing her head.

She was ok- so I just relocated to the other recliner- I'd deal with the broken chair in the morning. After about three minutes I thought "this just isn't going to work- I'm just going to go get in bed with one of the littles." When I got up to leave, Val told me that one of the littles had come crying for his mommy and she took him upstairs. I'd heard the crying- but I thought it was her kid (evidently so did she at first). So this WHOLE time there was an empty bed. So I finally got a few hours sleep. It was an adventurous night!

ps- The chair was not broken- it had just come off its slider tracks. We fixed it next day.

Next story:

It's not as epic as the first- just really cute.

My four year old nephew made the cutest freaking Christmas list. On it he said he wanted a castle with a prince and princess (he was a knight for Halloween and his cousin was a princess). So I got him a castle that came with a little wizard, a king and two knights. But he specifically wanted a princess so that the knight would have someone to rescue. Well- with that particular play set- there were no princesses available. I tried to get little Fisher Price ones- but you can't get just the princess. You have to buy a whole entourage of other stuff. So I just bought some little Disney princesses- about the size of a Polly Pocket. They were just about the right size for the little knights. Anyway- So I wrapped up the castle- and then wrapped the princesses separately. He opened the castle and liked it- then opened the princess. He didn't even get the wrapping paper off when he stopped, looked at it said, "A GIRL toy!?" he threw it on the floor and ran out of the room!

Now- I was afraid I'd really offended him- but his mom just assured me he was embarrassed- not sad- that he got a "girl toy". And that was evident later because both he and his nearly eight year old boy cousin were playing nights and princesses. One part was so funny. 4yo had the castle turned towards himself and 8yo couldn't play inside it too because they were on opposite sides of the table. 8yo said, "Well how is my knight supposed to find his princess?" 4yo replies, "Duh- you say, 'priiiiiiiiiiinceeeeeess, where aaaaaaaaaaare yooooooou?'" It was so cute to see them play with it- and every knight needs a princess to rescue.

And now for the announcement.

I got my apartment. I'm moving.