Christmas 2012

Christmas when I was growing up was just the greatest time ever! My mother made sure everyone came to our house. We always had LOADS of family come stay and I was so excited. I can remember one exceptional year that we had so many people coming, we didn’t have room for everyone so my parents rented a Winnebago and put it in our backyard. All the older “kids” got to sleep in it and I was so jealous. Kelly and Tracy were allowed but I wasn’t. I had to sleep inside on a pallet on the floor. But during the day, I could go out in the Winnebago with them and hang out. They spent most of their time putting in different 8 track tapes supplied by Kelly’s boyfriend Tommy. What a blast.

My mom was always such a great hostess but not at all putting on heirs. She loved to cook for everyone and made sure everyone had a cozy place to sleep. The thought of me having to do all her preparations sends me into a panic attack. She never was panicked though. I can remember the kids playing all day and then the adults settling us all down to one area of the house at night while they stayed up LATE drinking coffee or wine in the living room and talking until all hours of the morning with the stereo playing records by Neil Diamond.

When I was about 6 or 7, I remember being cozy in my pallet on the den floor when my sisters and my cousins came in and told me all about Santa not being real. They asked, “Don’t you realize they are in there playing with all your toys?!?!” I never gave in and told my parents. I wanted Santa to continue.

Christmas was always about being with all this family that we loved so much. I couldn’t wait for everyone to come. The Christmas of 2008 was the last one I spent with family other than Luke and our children. That was our last Christmas with my Mama. Tracy and her family along with Kelly were here to be with Mama. You can read about that one in The Scooter Story. That was one fantastically memorable Christmas. But since then, it’s been just us. I needed that the first few years after my parents were gone but now I long to have a gaggle of people around. That’s how I remember it; that’s when it was good. I wish I could just have all my close friends and family all around but everyone goes their own direction to be with their own family. Can I make a list of those I want to spend my holiday with? I think they know who they are.


My Newest Angel

On Tuesday November 13th, my best friend Debbie came to our house to exercise with me. She had lost 30 lbs in about the last 6 months all on her own by eating right and wanted to keep going so I decided to help her and we’d been doing light weights and cardio for about a month or two. Soon after we started that morning, she got dizzy and I made her sit. She got sick and I asked her if I needed to call 911. Something inside me just told me it was serious. She nodded so I grabbed my phone and called. She fell back and was unresponsive. The EMS arrived within 5 to 7 minutes. I calmly called her husband. I didn’t want to scare him although I knew it was bad. I told him she had gotten sick and asked me to call an ambulance. He told me to take her to Brookwood Hospital and he asked if she was conscious. I had to tell him no. He asked me to please ride in the ambulance with her which I had planned to do anyway.

The ambulance driver told me I would have to ride in the front. Two of the EMS (fire department) went in the ambulance as well. Even before we left the house, they had her on the bag to breathe so I knew she wasn’t breathing on her own. It just wasn’t good. No need for all the details. When we got to the hospital, I asked to go in with her. The ambulance driver told me I needed to go in the main entrance and register. I waited until they brought her out of the ambulance and I kissed her forehead as I ran along side. I basically threw her insurance card and drivers license at the registration clerk and took off into the room where they had her. There was a doctor there already. They told me I would have to leave so they could get her stabilized and they put me alone in a small waiting/consultation room. I just felt like I was going to throw up.

Scott, her husband finally arrived at the hospital and wanted to know what happened. I told him everything. The doctor came in shortly and told us that she coded as they brought her in but they had revived her. They were sending her for a ct scan. He asked about what happened and I explained. He said we would be able to go in after they got her back from CT but that she was currently on a ventilator and not breathing on her own. By the time we went in, Debbie’s mother was there as well. The doctor told us that she had several vessels burst in her brain and the damage was extensive; the outlook for her was bleak and we should prepare for the worst. I then left so the family could be with her.

She spent two days in the SICU, never regained consciousness and two subsequent scans showed no brain function. Scott removed her from the ventilator on Nov 15th and she was gone. I know she was gone when it happened. Poor Scott just prayed and prayed for a miracle.

Please know, I have a great therapist (thank goodness) and I am doing ok. I have good days and bad days. But I am comfortable knowing I did all I could and all that could have been done. I’m thankful she was here with me and not alone, driving or with her husband or kids. All my pain and sorrow are of the selfish sort; me missing my best friend. We never had an argument and every memory I have of our times together involve laughter and hilarity. We ended every visit and phone call with an “I love you”.

Debbie leaves behind two boys ages 12 and 7 as well as a helpless husband. Scott’s (retired) parents have moved in with him for the next 3 months. He asked them to and they are wonderful people. Poor Scott keeps texting me and is worried about ME. My friend Betsy and I took him out last week on our scheduled girls night out that we had with Debbie. I think he felt awkward at first but truthfully, we didn’t talk about anything we wouldn’t have otherwise and it was good for all of us.

Like I said, I just wanted you to know and I wasn’t sure I could tell the story again. A friend of mine offered me this advice that I’m finding to be helpul: “Regardless of all the crap that happens today – tomorrow is a new day and the sun is going to keep coming up – so put on your ‘Fuck It’ shoes and take it one step at a time.” So that’s what I’m doing.

Debbie and Me

Notes I sent to friends after:

Nov 14, 2012:  She was with me when it happened. I did everything I knew to do and called 911 and rode in the ambulance, but I knew it was bad. Really bad. This couldn’t have happened to a more undeserving person. Bless her. She was my running buddy here. She was the ONE person I KNEW would be here if I needed anything. She helped me with so much when my mom was sick…kept my kids, brought food, walked my fucking dog. I always felt I could not possibly do enough to repay her for that. And she rarely asked me for a damn thing. I got no buddy. I got no go to girl. Her two boys have no mommy. My 11yr old son asked my husband last night, “What will Jake and Hudson do without a Mommy?” How can life be so cruel to such undeserving people?

Nov 18, 2012:  My friend Debbie was with me when this happened. And I fucking kicked it like a NINJA to get the EMS and ambulance here. It couldn’t have been done any better or faster. My house is right by the fire department. I was calm, and I loved on her like I would my own child. But I knew she was gone when it happened. Her husband just could not help but pray for a miracle, God bless him.

I am doing ok. I just feel like I want to vomit. I wish I could vomit and just “feel all better” but that’s not how it works with this type thing. I have a good therapist, thank God. And I will get through. But she was my ONE person. I’m a ONE person girl. And she is gone.

I keep talking to people and telling stories like I remember doing with my Mama like she’s still alive. I can’t stop doing that yet. I can’t believe it. But I am SO GLAD I was the one there and not her husband, or her kids, or her alone or her driving. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every story I tell about her ends in laughter and hilarity. That’s how we rolled. But even just tonight with my sister here, I can’t tell a story without her being there or involved. And it makes me sad to think she’s gone.

So be it. It has done some wonderful things no matter how horrible it is for me. When I had to tell my kids, they knew she was in the hospital and very ill, I was honest from the beginning. But I happened to have a moment alone with my son on Thursday night and told him. My daughter wandered near shortly after. I went to tell her and started closing doors but Cole wanted to be in there, I could tell. I asked him if he wanted to be there with us and he did. So I let him. He stood with his back turned while I told him, tinkering with her toys. And after I told her and she was crying, he came over. I explained to them that they are brother and sister and they will have each other for times like these. I said, “Cole, you love your sister, don’t you?” And he said, “Yes, ma’am.” I said, “Will you give her a hug?” and he embraced her. He did, no questions asked. A big ole genuine hug. Then he walked out. Two seconds later, he came back with a Dum Dum out of his Halloween candy and said, “Here, Ila. I want you to have this.” And the two of them have been playing together peacefully and joyfully since. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED!!!

It may not last but some good things may come from this. It just sucks for me, you know?