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uploaded 07.14.06 -YouTube link added 01.31.09
3:30 PM, Wednesday, July 5th, 2006:
Although the date says July 5th, it's actually still July 3rd to me. I have been up since 8:30 AM Monday morning, nearly 55 hours ago, with two 30 minute naps to show for it. We are all completely wiped out and I had a quick moment to share some thoughts.
I'm back at the same hospice house (literally across the hall) that I was at in 2000 when my first grandmother passed. It's one of the more peaceful places I've ever been but it's certainly not easy to retrace your steps from such a traumatic event, and even harder when it's the same disease taking a loved one. And once again cancer attacks so unexpectedly and with such immediacy we're all left standing with our jaw dropped trying to understand how something could change so quickly overnight. This was in the "treatment" stage as I landed yesterday and the second I walked through the elevator doors they said she had pneumonia and may not make it through the day. Whew. She barely did and this afternoon she was moved to the Hospice. I'll be with her all night tonight as well.
The family, although shellshocked, have been so good with each other. Everyone here seems so much more concerned for someone else in the family, and that person is in turn more concerned for yet another member of the family caring for someone else... It's a cyclical pattern that has been woven throughout the past 2 days (and 6 weeks before I got here)...and it's just inspiring. Even watching my grandmother last night with one of her grandaughters who was shaken up saying: "I love you, it's OK". There is an overwhelming safety net of interdependence and support and no one is falling through the cracks. Every sentence that is spoken in regards to "How are you doing?" begins with:  "Well I'm really more concerned about..." and so on, and so on, and so on. It's extraordinary.
On a personal level (which honestly hasn't crossed my mind until I opened this laptop), I'm just shocked at how surreal this is. Anyone who has been away from home for a long period of time will probably understand what I mean when I say this, but every family member becomes a character in a book. There's a detatchment from the family you knew as a child when you lived in the same city and you only see them at weddings and funerals. They've always aged a bit more than you remember, and since you always see them at emotional extremes, they become caricatures. The longer you're away from home, your memories begin to resemble that of movie characters since like the movies, you only see the important parts. Just bizarre how glaring that is and just how much I miss "hanging out" with my family with absolutely nothing pulling you one way or another.
Another moment that's sure to effect the way we all see this holiday for quite some time, you could see several of the city's fireworks displays from the top floor of her hospital room. In the midst of such devastating news and an absolute haze of emotions at 10 PM we started seeing about 6 different fireworks shows from all over the city. We all just kind of stopped and took 'em in for a bit. There were no oohs and ahhs...just watching.
Not sure we'll ever watch fireworks the same again...though I have to admit - that will be a nice way to remember my grandmother in the future.
They've told me we're very close, so I need to shut this down for now. I don't know how I'll have the power to be able to document the coming showdown on CBS, but I'll try to write a bit each day, even if I have to take the time and upload it at a later date.
Thanks for your thoughts and emails at this time. It means a lot.