I just want to get it done

There is so much stuff in my house, and I know I will feel better once I get rid of some it.  It’s not as easy as that.  There are ties to everything.  The stupidest things can derail me.

Today I am working my way through the basement.  I had a flood there on Easter weekend and I moved a bunch of stuff and now it is either time to put it back or get rid of it.  I am trying to pitch as much of the stuff that I can but Lordy it’s hard.

There are two crutches in the basement.  I figure, meh, won’t need those again, I’ll give them to my daughter to put in her yard sale.  That was what I was thinking until I picked them up.  There on the side, in typical Kevin scrawl, was a message: “I just want the attention”.  He was such an idiot.  I loved him so.  So now the crutch isn’t just a thing anymore is it?  It becomes a tangible connection to the man who was.

God, this is still so hard.  When does it get easier?


A Year Ago

This time a year ago was a big day.  My daughter had her first child a year ago today.

One year ago today, I had spent the day in the hospital, joining my daughter and her partner in the birthing room.  Kevin, my husband, was alive, and he spent the day with his sister.  She’d come over to keep him company until the “news” came through.  It was a lot longer of an ordeal than we had expected.  I had gone over around noon, having been told that my daughter had been induced.  The intent was for a natural birth, but there were complications.  When I could, I left the room to update Kevin; he waited and waited by the phone.

Our grandson finally arrived in the early evening, somewhere around 7:45 pm, and I happily made the call to let Kevin and his sister know.  It was a heartbreaking thing, making that call.  Kevin was so sick, and so sad that he couldn’t be part of the event.  The day had taken a tremendous toll on him – I could tell when I got home.  It had been too much, and I had been away too long.  He was good about taking his pills, but I was better at making him take them and take them with food.

Such a happy, happy day – it always is when a child is born.  It turned into a tragic one as well, for while my daughter was busy giving birth, a good friend of my husband’s, a friend he had taught with for many years, was dying.  In the same hospital, on the same day.  Kevin didn’t find out until later the next day.  He had wanted to go to the hospital to see our daughter and the baby.  It was exceptionally hard, he was exhausted, as well as fearful of picking up something his body couldn’t fight off while he was there.  But he managed to get there, hold the baby; and then we headed home.

He found out about his friend later that night.  A heart attack.  It diminished Kevin, just hearing the news.  He seemed to physically shrink.  Here he was facing his own mortality and one of his dear friends had met his.  Unexpectedly.  In the next week, Kevin would help his friend’s wife select the music to play at her husband’s funeral.  He also insisted on going to the visitation.  A friend of ours called ahead to the funeral home.  When we pulled up, everyone stood aside to let us through to see his friend’s wife.  No waiting.  So kind of them, so important to Kevin to go.  He was a good friend to those he loved.

I didn’t know it at the time, none of us did, but this would be the last month of Kevin’s life.  His neck had been sore for a while, and finally he decided he’d do another round of radiation.  I think he hoped to buy more time to be with his grandsons.  But all hope was lost; cancer had spread throughout his lymph nodes and his neck, so painful, started to swell.

This next month will be full of memories for me and for the whole family.  Today, though, we made new memories as we celebrated my grandson’s first birthday.  We talked about this time a year ago and how happy Granddad was to have a new member of the family.  How important family is and how much we will work to cherish every moment together, the love of family and the love of life.

The Endowment Fund

In recognition of Kevin’s love of music and art, we contacted our local Art Gallery to arrange for an endowment fund to be used to reward new and emerging artists through a juried competition.  The details have yet to be finalized but a general overview can be found at http://www.orilliamuseum.org/.  Scroll down and you will find a brief overview on this fund.  Receipts will be issued and are tax deductible.

Throughout Kevin’s journey with cancer over and over it struck me that the system was not being utilized properly.  Millions of dollars are raised through donations, fundraisers, government funding and yet the chemo suite is used Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.  Machinery, facilities, medicines are administered during regular business hours.  It frustrated me that in order to cut costs and save money on staffing, millions upon millions of dollars of equipment lays dormant.  It’s the bookkeeping you see.  The upfront costs don’t factor into the bottom line administration costs and so when the time comes to save a buck usually some program is cut, hours are shortened and a perceived costs savings is achieved.  But this is at a very human price.  Cancer does not take time off, it’s not a Monday to Friday type of thing.

So many people have the need for these services and yet, because the government won’t fund adequate staff to administer the technology, the machines are utilized less than 25% of the hours in a week (8 hrs x 5 days = 40 hours; 24 hrs x 7 days = 168 hours;  40 divided by 168 is 23.8%).  Increasing the use and administration of any machinery in the hospital, be it an MRI, CT, etc., would mean more jobs, would decrease the cost per use of the technology; it would result in increased billings to the health care system but potentially would reduce long term health costs through earlier detection/treatment.  There’s so many pros associated with responsible, expanded and enhanced use of existing services and technology.

Convoluted though my reasoning may be it was why we elected to direct any donations for Kevin elsewhere.  Donations are so routinely directed to the Cancer Society and with the best of intent – but somehow accountability for the usage of these monies is lacking.  Instead, we contacted our local Gallery to discuss an endowment that could be used to further and encourage artistic expression at any age.  Kevin would have loved it.