As an original German, I have a stereotypical love of order as it is expressed in punctuality and following a carefully calendared schedule. When I fail at this, I am angrier than depressed at my failure. Sometimes, anger and depression over “Life happens,” combine to result in a post such as this. Not a book review, it is an events review. In that sense, I cannot believe 2019 can get worse while noting there are still just over three months left.
Just before the beginning of this year, a wonderful lady, my mother-in-law suffered a stroke. She lived in a comatose state for almost four months. There was no doubt she would die as we followed a daily reduction in life signs. The family kept this from my sixteen-year-old son until just after her death. He saw her once after a return from the hospital, and the sight of his formerly active beloved grandmother traumatized my son to the point that we knew we would conceal her lack of recovery and continuing deterioration until after her death. This event was my son’s first experience of loss of a beloved person. He grieved for her; I grieved for him while also mourning the loss of such a powerful woman.
Her husband was twenty years older than her; she had died at age sixty-five. It was easy for me to predict what would eventually happen, but I could not anticipate when or the surprising way it would happen. In Indonesia, there are several stages of celebrating familial death. After the next two or three days of rites following the death, there is a one-hundred-day ceremony. For my mother-in-law, the service was celebrated on May 1st, 2019. I attended the ceremony which took place in a family home. My father-in-law had lived with his wife in a house directly across the street from the ceremony. He arrived at the ceremony and sat at a position of honor in a family home. I talked with him briefly and left to teach a class. On arrival at my classroom, I received a call saying that just after I left, he closed his eyes and died. There would be a one-hundred-day ceremony in August. My son loved his grandfather and frequently helped him with neighborhood carpentry projects. By August 2019, my son was seventeen years old. Grief continued.
On the 4th of September, I had a “needle biopsy” of a possible cancerous growth. Confirmed by a CT scan, I am now waiting for a surgery that will determine the extent and type of treatment needed. I was not surprised by the preliminary diagnosis that treatment would be successful but uncomfortable. As far as life expectancy, I rely on a Vietnamese shaman who wrote six pages about all events in my life from 1970 to my expected death in August of my 82nd year around the time of the mooncake festival. All events he wrote about (and, yes, I have kept the pages) have happened. The events were amazingly accurate and related to the final number of my children (9), periods I would experience life-threatening illnesses (2), occupations (several), and the staggering amount of travel I would do as I pursued an expatriate life. The shaman’s pages were written because he was a mute. So, I have about nine more years if I don’t get hit by a truck carrying sugar cane, a high possibility in Indonesia.
On the 4th of September, my first wife, the mother of five children, was taken by ambulance to a hospital in a coma. She had been in the hospital a few days prior but was discharged to return home. I followed her progress online (Facebook), so when I knew she was home, I called to hear news of her health. Her speech was filtered by the effects of drugs, and although she was understandable, I was concerned and phoned one of my daughters. That daughter called nurses and doctors familiar with my first wife’s case, and an ambulance was dispatched to take her back to the hospital. Arriving on the 4th of September, as of the 18th of September, she had not emerged from a coma. On September 18th, she was transferred to Hospice care. My grief is overwhelming. The two of us agreed that since our divorce in 1992, we made much better friends than spouses. We had monthly conversations about our children. I don’t know a term for this phenomenon, two events occurring to people linked in such a way, both occurring on the same day. Singularity? Synchronocity? Karma? Whatever it is, it hurts.
Lucky to have one daughter who has the willingness to attend to my first wife’s needs in her final days, I maintain an open connection with her on WA. With my pending diagnosis and surgery over the next week, I am not available to travel and help my daughter. Also, I am not sure of the value of being present in a Hospice situation.
Sometime over the next few days (not weeks) I will get back to my posting schedule. I have lots of time to read and write now that I can no longer work at a job that requires adhering to a class schedule or even one that involves predictability of attendance. All I must do now is recapture motivation, and I know I can do that. There are remarkable pieces of literature, podcasts, and film that will help. Social media helps. I have long ago “met” bloggers who are struggling through challenging events, and I am grateful for the examples they have been willing to share. Everything helps.