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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In the Wake of Tragedy | How Life Goes On

It's been a month since tragedy struck my family. My grandmother's husband, Paul, fell and went into a coma, never to wake again. It started as a normal morning. Paul, who has been living with diabetes and battling throat and mouth cancer for the past 4 years, got up early and drove to get some breakfast sandwiches. He and my grandmother live in Utah, along with my Uncle. My grandma and uncle woke up and found Paul and the car gone but had no idea where he was. For hours they tried frantically to find him.

Then they got the call.

He was at a hospital in Vegas. He had been rushed there after his fall because they had some of the best brain surgeons in the area.

Paul had gone to get breakfast sandwiches at a local store. As the cashier handed him his change, it fell to the floor. Paul leaned over to pick it up and lost his balance. He landed on the hard concrete -- directly onto his head. He didn't have time to react and get his hands out to break his fall. Major head trauma. Brain swelling. Hours of surgery. And finally my grandmother and uncle knew where he was.

They rushed to his side. They called my mom. She flew down to be with them. Paul didn't wake up.

He was unconscious the entire time. His body would react to some things. Most likely, it was involuntary. He opened his eyes and reached up his arm. We had hope. But the doctors said he wasn't aware. He wasn't really awake.

He had a living will. He had paperwork in place. He had it legally written as to what his wishes were. And yet, they still weren't clear. How long is too long? What constitutes a vegetative state? The doctors could do no more. The next step was a rehab facility where he would live in a bed, hooked up to machines, for who knows how long -- forever?

My grandma just couldn't make the decision. On the day she was supposed to decide, Paul passed on his own. Perhaps he didn't want to burden her with that choice.


In the wake of tragedy, life does go on. It moves slowly and yet so fast all at once. You look around and wonder what would you do? How do you prepare so your loved ones aren't faced with the hard decisions? And how long is too long? How long is too short? 2 weeks? 2 months? Hospital stays are expensive. Rehab centers are expensive. Hospice care isn't always an option.

I still don't know what I will do. I only know I need to figure it out soon so my loved ones don't have to feel the guilt of pulling the plug too soon. Rest in peace, Paul. You were a good man and you gave my grandma the love she needed and deserved. He loved photography and taking pictures. It was something we had in common. He was sweet and kind.

In the wake of tragedy, how do you cope? Paul had a previous wife who passed several years ago. Then he married my grandma. Because she is his second wife, she is not entitled to his VA benefits. Instead, his children will receive whatever benefits are available. The children he did not speak to. The children who did not visit.

My grandma is left with a house she cannot afford and bills she cannot pay.

It has been exactly a month since tragedy has struck my family. My mom will be flying back home with my grandma in just a few days. She will be moving in with us indefinitely. And once I move out with the BP and we get our own place, my mom will get another place with my grandma.

Life changes in an instant. Embrace it. Enjoy it. And don't take it for granted.

During this whole time, we also found out that my grandfather, who has gone from living with prostate cancer then to bone cancer, now has cancer in his lungs. It's too soon for another family tragedy. He's an incredibly strong man and I hope somehow that he will make it through this. I'm going to try to remain as optimistic as possible.

This has been a rough month and I haven't felt inspired to blog often about crafts and cute things. I'm still struggling with priorities and what's most important right now. I know that will change and things will go back to "normal". Hopefully soon.... :) 

9 comments:

  1. I am so sorry to hear about your family's tragedies! Sending positive vibes your way. I think you should take as much time as you need to focus on what's important and what should be priority in your life: family and friends and spending time with them. The cute and the artsy can wait while you do what you need to do

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  2. I'm so sorry to hear about this, that is a lot of tragedy to suddenly fall upon your family. Will be praying for you all.

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  3. thanks so much. Grandma has moved in :) I'm still not inspired enough to craft just yet

    My other grandpa is coming home this weekend, I hope to be able to see him. The doctors gave him more bad news. It's not just the lungs, it's everywhere. he hasn't got much time at all :(

    Getting old truly sucks

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    1. Boo - Sorry for all the bad news - I will pray for you and your family. Smile when you see your Grampa. It will make him happy inside :)- Tia

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