when you don’t prepare for the unexpected

Lately, with hearing from American Bedu’s recurring illness and the loss of her beloved Prince, our recent encounter with death of a patient and his refusal to notify his family prior to his demise; I can only see certain parallels of my boss’ and my battle with diseases that are anything but gracious. All unexpected and filled with tribulation; some to end with disastrous consequences beyond the death or survival of the loved one.

My boss was not prepared for the news that his non-smoking, well exercised, well cared for body would betray him with two different cancers- one around his carotid artery in his throat and the other in his thigh. At his absolute best in his career, with a loving wife of more than thirty years- my boss was not prepared for what turned out to be the most aggressive chemo and radiation therapy, a cracked skull, a pacemaker, three surgeries, and a year where he so changed my heart broke the day his wife called me and said “come”- so thin was he I couldn’t find him in my arms. When I stepped outside to recover some balance, all I could say in his beloved Diana’s arms was “Please, where is my jefe? Please bring him back”.

Those were hard months, but in the shadows loomed something that would rock my family to its very foundations and all but ruin my boss’ recovery. One day I fell into a coma.

That time for me was a void- a nothing within nothing- no realization of being. For my husband and my daughters it would be the worst eight days of their lives. Because upon them descended my maternal AND paternal clan. A mixture of Spaniards, Dominicans, Lebanese, Jordanian, and God knows what else stormed the hospital. My youngest used that term- she felt like it was an invasion! And it was; everything was second guessed, quarreled over, broken, parceled; this one blaming the other. My husband thought for a moment, a long one at that, he and the girls were no longer my family- they felt as outsiders and all plans- what few we had ever made were swept away under a barrage of demands from both sides.

My husband was not prepared to feel and see the until then hidden feelings of my non muslim familiars- their disparaging remarks of even my hijab that my spouse knew even in death I would never relinquish willingly, and astonished at the depth of festering anger on the muslim familiars-who believed they had more right over me than any one- I was an object. He was blown away by the callousness at one point when someone- never did want to tell who- suggested “we go to plan B”- my inevitable death! In front of my girls (my son was being shipped back from his post) and my husband they would divide my belongings, my legacy like buyers at the market square.

Then I was told would come the recriminations the “why did/didn’t you two plan this that or the other”- those would end on the day my son arrived to find his father had aged eons and he summarily threw everyone out- I think it had been the uniform and his “assess and take command” stance- my husband willingly let him take charge, because all he really wanted was to be by my side no matter what came.

This would teach us all a great lesson- we had not envisioned such a storm in the middle of a life or death disaster- we would pay high prices for not truly planning for the worst. That sense that in the end things will work out- never did we in our wildest dreams believe our faith in our family could be shattered so utterly in an instant.

After all was said and done; after the relapse and the up hill battle to recovery, I was left with a dark and potent understanding that we truly must have those conversations Bedu spoke of*, we must look at death and point to it and say- this is what we will do when the time approaches or has come to an end. But most of all we must prepare our most precious for strength and determination to carry out our will.

Unfortunately, something broke in my clan- the deep seeded wrongs blossomed to the surface opened by the chasm that was my coma. And all I can say is that, while few ever return to hear of the horrors a family can commit when in preparation for a family member’s death, I was able to return from that void and learn to protect MY family- my adoring husband, my son and my daughters- from this ever happening again.

The Health Care Proxies are now firmly written and legalized, the last will and testaments written, the documentation of our lives secured and known to us five. Our every last wish discussed and put to legal size parchment.

Better safe than sorry is one adage I will never forget.

Today unfortunately the news is not good. After a year and a half we were told my boss’ cancer is back- we step upon the roller-coaster once more. He will have an operation on Thursday and will start again the chemo and radiation he so dreads. I could only give him hugs as I left for my own appointment- devastated and sick to the core. My results are in- I have two clots that need to be dealt with now, the Coumadin cycle begins anew, the scans, the x-rays, and again I become reacquainted with those hurtful arterial blood draws! God those hurt- Alhamdulillah the clots were found before they could do more damage or create the havoc of last summer.

Please pray for my boss- these roller-coasters are always scarier the second time around…



3 Responses to “when you don’t prepare for the unexpected”

  1. March 2, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I am so very sorry to hear of your illness and that of your boss. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.

    • 2 INAL
      March 2, 2010 at 4:43 pm

      Thank you Bedu- you are continuously in mine. Hope you are getting rest of the “restful” kind as my boss says… Something I’m not good at…

  2. March 20, 2010 at 1:53 am

    i absolutely love your own writing taste, very unique,
    don’t quit and keep penning as it simply well worth to look through it.
    excited to look over alot more of your well written articles, goodbye 🙂

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