Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Somber Fourth



This photo is courtesy of the San Diego Foodbank




Dear Daniel,

           I remember so well how you loved the Fourth of July, our country's Independence Day.   I think one of the benefits to homeschooling is that you understood the proud history of our nation and many of the good things about it.  I think it made Independence Day more special for you, in a way in which many Americans have forgotten.

           Most of the time I still don't understand why you were called home. Sometimes though, I look at the financial situation of the US and of the world, and I breathe a tiny breath of relief that no one hears, that you will never know some of the things which have become commonplace in our nation.  You will not know a sudden job loss from a company for which you were totally loyal.  You will not know sending out a thousand resumes, without a single response.  You will not know the loss of what you might think, at the time, is your great love.  You will not know a broken engagement.  You will not know a serious car crash. You will not know a betrayal from a friend.   I could go on.   Perhaps God knew that you were pretty well cooked to perfection here on Earth and ready for the rewards of Heaven. Of course, we still miss you terribly.



Photo: www.ikocommunitymanagement.com




          Independence Day this year will be even more quiet and somber than the year after your passing.  Taxes have increased and salaries have not, and there is less disposable income for things like fire works and barbecues.  Many of the animals you knew and loved are quite elderly, and the fireworks display we used to do would probably frighten them.  This year, we are fortunate enough to have had enough rain that they would not have been a fire hazard, as this was a concern the last year that you were here for Independence Day.     If you were here I have no doubt you would be explaining to everyone in an articulate manner than any number of executive orders and supreme court decisions were unconstitutional.  Part of me is relieved not to have you see some of the travesties which are occurring, but I am sure that you know.

            Still, please know that we do our best.  I miss you and my dad more than you know., and I know that everyone else does here also.   I appreciate the visits in dream, even though they are just flashes.  Thank you for the encouragement for your sister. We will continue to move forward and continuing to be the people you knew while you were here.  I love you both deeper than Earth's oceans and wider than its seas.





        

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Recommend Danish Series "The Legacy"

          

The actors who play the siblings and half siblings from "The Legacy"




    I write a fair bit about bereavement and the many aspects of loss.  I am mindful that the loss of a family member is a permanent one, and is often grieved in many different ways at different times throughout the remainder of our lives.


Key characters of "The Legacy".    I have not cared this much about the characters in a series and where the author/creator of the series takes them since BBC's Monarch of the Glen.




                   Quite accidentally, I stumbled on a television series from Denmark which is captioned in English.  In English, the series is called "The Legacy" although the translation of the name in Danish is actually Arvingerne, "The Inheritors".    The Legacy is a brilliantly written and developed story of the four adult children of a famous Danish artist who lived a rather free life from the sixties on.  Her sudden death leaves her three children reeling.  Before her passing she reveals to her fourth child, who has been adopted and who does not know her, that she is not only her mother, but that she wishes to leave the estate home and acreage she owns to her.   "The Legacy" is a beautifully acted series of this family.  Each of these adult children have damages from their family of origin. Each of them occupied a different place in the family constellation and therefore their damages and inabilities differ.  Each of them in the face of such stress are doing things they should not, and yet each of them are grieving in their own way and trying to get needs met which were apparently long unmet in their families of origin.  They simply don't get that not only was their relationship with their mother a time limited proposition, but their relationship with one another is as well.



Some of the key actors in "The Legacy" during a break.


                      The series is complex, well acted with some acting veterans  familiar even to myself.  The character development is very strong which adds to the realism.  "The Legacy" is a picture of how a family hopes they might not act toward full or half siblings, yet when property which means something to each of them is up for grabs, they find themselves acting in a manner in which most of us would not be proud.  The series has been produced by DR and written by  creator and chief writer Maya Ils√łe, who has said “You don’t know your family until you inherit with them.”  True enough !

                      I highly recommend this series especially to anyone who has ever settled an estate or been excluded from one.  It will leave you both nodding your head and shedding a tear of understanding what it's like to be left after a sudden death, with some key and pivotal questions.

                       Daniel may actually have watched this series had he remained on Earth.  I think his observation may have been that the legacy spoken of, is not,  in fact,  the ten million kroner house that everyone is fighting over in the first half of the first series. The legacy may actually be the damage and the dysfunction taught to them in their childhoods by the actions of their talented, creative, but extremely self centered mother and their fathers.



Update:

    To those of you who wrote me to ask, I am told there are ten episodes in the initial season and seven more episodes coming in the second season.   I am told that an inferior attempt at an American remake is coming to the US soon.  I think I'll skip it and buy this one on DVD.



Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lonnie Passes






              This week, one of Daniel's favorite alpacas passed.   It is never easy to lose an animal who has been with us for sixteen years, and who was important to Daniel.     I am comforted by the thought that Daniel will be there for him.  The link below tells of the story of the life of Lonnie.


http://lifeaftertherescues.blogspot.com/2015/05/thank-you-lonnie.html




 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sometimes, There is a Sliding Back

           






 Most of the time I move through life fairly well. I enjoy the growth and the achievements of my remaining grown children.  Most days, I remember the cherished memories we have with Daniel, and I don't look too hard or dwell on that last difficult day in which he departed Earth.   Most of the time I can take care of Daniel's few remaining elderly dogs and the descendants of his rooster.  I take very good care of the alpacas we have, all of whom knew him well.  He cared very much about them and would want them to receive excellent care during their own remaining time on Earth..


               However, once in awhile, particularly in Spring, something reminds me of the simple ugly unfairness of it all.  It's Spring !    The trees that wither and appear to die in Winter, most often return.  Daniel, of course, cannot return stating that "a mistake was made".   We can't appeal his passing simply because he was removed from our home after being pronounced dead, by a minivan rather than a hearse, although the thought had occurred to me. The loss of a child is a loss of part of the future for a family, always and forever during our time on Earth.




   This week, one of my kids sent me a video to a song online.  It's a good song, and a good group and I think we will all be hearing more from them.  However, my jaded heart saw something different.  Daniel would be nineteen now.  He would be starting the process at college somewhere learning how he fits into the world.   He would be dating.  He would likely be experiencing the emotions of this song, and somehow through some cosmic unfairness that his mother cannot understand, he is not here on Earth to do it.









Daniel, it's just that the feelings talked about in this song, you will not know while here on Earth. I know that we are to have faith that all that happens here during our time here will be amended or redeemed in the next plane, but it is oh so hard for the people who knew you here and who brought you to Earth to know that you won't continue here. Most days I have that faith, and then sometimes, there is a song like this which reminds me that life goes on for your friends, their families here on Earth and that yours continue elsewhere........for a time away from us.     I will try to do better.    I think of you with love always.




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

To Daniel, Who Would be Nineteen, This Week






Daniel,

       I can hardly believe that this would be your nineteenth birthday if you had been able to remain on Earth. You would likely be in college working on, goodness knows what degree by now.  You would have a cluster of friends who no doubt would be important to you, and I would probably see you most often when I drive to your college to have lunch with you periodically, just as I did with your siblings. You would probably be playing the "Magic" strategy card game with your friends, and when you had a chance, you would be working for a local foodbank as I know this was important to you when you were younger.  Sometimes, to stay sane, I pretend that you are "in college" in Heaven, and that my Dad and Jesus guide you there. It gives me a temporary framework of normalcy, so that I don't have to tell myself you are simply gone from Earth.

       Here on the farm, all the animals you knew are aging.  One by one, they pass and then I am sure, come to you.  We have several farm animals who are deteriorating in the face of extreme advanced age, and will be coming to you soon. Jared, the Siberian Husky you knew so well, fights hard to remain here as long as possible, but at fifteen and a half, he is failing, a little bit each day.

      I have come to think of myself as the "clean up crew" and support staff to your life here on Earth.  I will continue to care for your animals, and be a loving and supportive parent to your siblings, and to your little nephew who smiles at your picture as if he somehow knows a special secret between the two of you. I will have faith, and I will continue to believe in the loving Father who not only keeps your soul safe now, but who lent your wonderful spirit to me in the shape of a wonderful son, in the first place.

       Happy Birthday, Daniel.   Today, I will bake you a cake, share it with your siblings, care for your animals, take care of your nephew, and your siblings, and I will dust your room and clean a little. You have been gone from Earth for six and a half years, and yet, I love you just as much as I did that day, if not more.



   
Happy Birthday, Daniel

  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

It's Easter !

         




      Easter Sunday used to be a big holiday here when Daniel still lived in Earth.  It seems, that as each year passes and our other children become older and dwell in adulthood that it becomes less and less a holiday here on the farm.      It's not that I don't appreciate the magic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but rather that we celebrate the miracle of the resurrection each day, and therefore we do not restrict the focus of Christ's birth or his resurrection to one, two or three days a year.  We are mindful of Him every day.

              This year, rather than eating chocolate eggs, my husband and I visited our daughter and helped her with some chores she cannot do at the moment.  Daniel and my Dad would have appreciated that.   We also worked on animal care.  Some of Daniel's animals are exceedingly elderly and need some specialized attention and care, even in lovely weather.

                I hope this day was a calm, comfortable and joyous one for you, as well.





Daniel never heard this music, but I like to think he would have enjoyed the music and the video.   Daniel's response to the video would likely have been, "Look at how important diction really is !"


Friday, March 27, 2015

"I Pomice"





 Daniel,

       When you were a very small boy and you wanted to touch something fragile, you used to ask very nicely, and then you would say, "I won't break it, I pomice".    The first time you said it, I think you were about two, and your brothers and sister laughed, not at you, but with you. They too were enthralled with your use of language and even your missteps with it, which were often simply adorable.  Of course, one correction was about all it took for you to promise in the future, but pomice entered the family lexicon of adorable malapropisms you used at least once.  Somewhere I have a listing of all of them, and when I wrote the book about your life and times, I included a few of them interspersed with various chapters and events.  You brought such joy to all of our lives, and in the remembrance of those times, you still do.

         I have been remembering a lot of the things you said lately.  Thank you for coming to our family.  Thank you for your gentleness and kindness.   Each time you promised not to drop the glass ball, not to crush the tiny kitten or frighten the tiny puppy, you kept your word.

        Now it's my turn to promise you something.  I promise that I will remember your legacy.  I will remember as long as I live on the Earth, and likely beyond, my own days on Earth.  I will also try my best to be there for your siblings whom I know miss you very much.  Some of your dogs and your cat are still alive, and I continue to do my best to keep them healthy and happy, before those you love also move ahead to you. I will do my best to be the person you knew, only better.  I pomice.










Friday, March 20, 2015

The Loss of Sierra Jaid Sims

       
Sierra Jaid Sims





           It never seems to stop.  Yesterday, eighteen year old Sierra Jaid Sims attended her high school and complained of chest pain near the chorus room at her high school.  Sierra was in good shape, and plays three sports, including volleyball.   An ambulance was called as she collapsed upon entering a classroom.  EMS said that she was having some type of distress and that she was able to respond prior to going into a cardiac arrest.   When she arrived at the hospital she experienced a final cardiac arrest where she died yesterday afternoon. Of course, an autopsy will be done in order to get as much information about the cause of death as possible.  My prayers are with her parents, her family, her friends and her classmates today.




         I no longer accept that sudden arrhythmic death syndrome in teens is rare.  I still don't understand why every student who wishes to play sports doesn't receive an EKG.   This would not detect every case of Long QT Syndrome, Brugada Syndrome or ventricular tachycardia from other arrhythmic syndromes, but it would detect some of them in advance of a cardiac arrest, and it would save some of them.

         I miss Daniel as much today as I did in that first year since his departure from Earth, now six years ago.  Sierra was also the age that Daniel would be now, if he had lived past twelve and a half.
I pray that a day comes in which cardiac arrhythmic death syndrome in youth becomes truly rare, or the predilection is detected through screening after birth as is the case now with cystic fibrosis.

         Please pray for Sierra's family and friends for whom the journey of missing her has just begun.  By all accounts, people knew Sierra to be a lovely outgoing young woman who was well known in school for her role in multiple sports, and also for her playing the lead in the upcoming school play "Alice in Wonderland".




Update:    Just after I wrote the original post above, the medical examiner's office released a cause of death.  The medical examiner believes that Sierra died as a result of a large blood clot in her pulmonary artery.    This was therefore not a sudden arrhythmic death per se, however, it is yet another sudden and unexpected death in an otherwise healthy young person.    It remains sad and devastating to her family, her friends and her community nonetheless.



To assist Sierra's family with funeral expenses, you may click this highlighted link


Thank you.....




        

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Prayers for Mark Hall, His Family and for Casting Crowns


Mark Hall and Family


Living in such a profoundly rural place, Daniel and I spent a fair amount of time in the car while traveling from time to time. We would often listen to the radio. Mark Hall is the lead singer to a Contemporary Christian music group called Casting Crowns. I can remember listening to a lot of their music with Daniel. The group has a varied series of consistently good works.

 This week Mark and his family learned that he has a solid tumor on one of his kidneys which is 90% likely to be cancer. The plan is that Mark will have this kidney removed as soon as possible, and that the pathology examination of the tumor will give doctors the information they need to plot a course through the rest of his treatment.

 Please join our family in prayers for Mark, his family, and the group. May Mark come through the surgery and recovery safely. May his treatment which follows be speedy and effective. May he and the group return to bringing all of us inspiring and heartening music through all the trials of life for which they have been present for us. Amen.


 Please send your own prayers for Mark and his family. Just a few of the songs which have been the backdrop of all our lives include:

 The Voice of Truth
 If We Are the Body
 Who Am I Does Anybody Hear Her?
Thrive
 Lifesong
Praise You In The Storm
 Everyman
Slow Fade
 East to West
 Until the Whole World Hears
 Courageous
 Already There



 Of course, since Daniel was called home to God in 2008, he was not here to tell us what his favorite Casting Crowns songs would have been after 2008, however while he was here, this was his favorite Casting Crowns song.:










Link to more complete listing of Casting Crowns songs




Update:   Mark came through the initial surgery exactly as expected, and is taking time to recover before starting the next phase of treatment.  His wife Melanie has indicated that he and his family are very humbled and grateful for the prayers and the outpouring of concern for him.


 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Dance With Ondansetron (Zofran)

          




        Zofran is the brand name for a drug whose generic name is Ondansetron.  It is a prescription drug often used for severe nausea and vomiting as often seen in viral illnesses of the stomach or "stomach flu". It may also be used in conjunction with cancer chemotherapies which can produce severe nausea and vomiting.
It is occasionally used to treat hyperemesis gravidarum or the severe abnormal exaggerated upper gastrointestinal response to the hormones of pregnancy.  It is not indicated in the treatment of normal nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.  There are some occasional other uses particularly in the field of addiction and withdrawal. The drug is available as an injectable and also in an orally disintegrating tablet.


              In general, this is a good drug. It can help to prevent the admission of a patient to a hospital for overnight intravenous hydration by quelling the cyclic severe nausea and vomiting of certain viral illnesses. It can help to advance the settling of one's stomach sufficient to allow some fluids taken by mouth and this is a largely positive thing. It can help to make chemotherapy more tolerable for a patient who requires it. It can allow the patient to complete a recommended course rather than to electively abbreviate or terminate it.


              However, there are a subgroup of people who need to be particularly careful prior to using this drug. Ondansetron is noted to have the capacity to lengthen the QT portion of an otherwise normal EKG. In a susceptible subgroup of patients, this can lead to arrhythmia and potential for sudden death. Certainly anyone who experiences a rapid heartbeat or any noted change in heartbeat while taking Ondansetron should return to the hospital emergency room.




              As the parent of a child who died of a sudden arrhythmic disorder which had been unknown to his doctors and to us, why would I mention it ?   Daniel did not use Ondansetron prior to his sudden passing.  However, this may be of issue to those of you who have lost a child or family member and who have other children or family members who may have the same proclivity to arrhythmia, which may be as yet undiagnosed.   Two of Daniel's brothers have in fact, used Ondansetron for a day or so following a stomach flu on two separate years.  We did use the drug knowing that arrhythmia was a potential side effect, but the emergency room physicians ordering the drug made the decision that the benefits outweighed the risks at that particular juncturet of the treatment. Both young adults were well enough to be able to discontinue  the drug after the initial 24 hours of use.


               My reason for letting all of you know about Ondansetron is that even among the population of those who have lost a sibling to a sudden arrhythmic disorder that  there can be an appropriate short term use for the drug. You should also know that a sibling of someone who has died of presumed Long QT Syndrome should not receive this drug in the longer term.

  Make sure that any physician ordering drugs for your family or your children know that you have lost a family member to Long QT Syndrome, if in fact, you have.

              As always, just as my thoughts and memories are always with Daniel, my thoughts are also with the other parents and families who suddenly and inexplicably lost a healthy child to a sudden arrhythmic death of which there is most often, no warning.