Seems like the heavier my heart is the less I say… the less I even breathe. And yet, I think tonight it may help to find some words to express what has been going on in my world.
Members of my family are currently grieving a huge loss. One of the last really good men on the planet. A man who took responsibility for himself, his own actions, his ex-wife’s welfare (until the day she died). His three children, his beloved 2nd wife’s 3 children. Their many grandchildren combined.
This was a man who was a 10 year veteran of the USAF, instructing on the T33 and T38. He flew the F4 Phantom on over 100 reconnaissance missions over Vietnam, earning a Silver Star, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals and a Purple Heart. He was a pilot for a commercial airline for over 30 years. Most importantly, he was husband to my sweet partner’s amazing Mom for the last 25 years.
They were an adorable couple! It was within the last couple years that they were visiting our home, and we found some 20 year old pictures of them dancing at a family member’s wedding. I commented that they looked like they were so in love. Jack took the picture and said “Were? We still ARE in love!” ♥ That kind of love is so rare in our world today. ♥
There is nothing he wouldn’t do for his family… as long as it was within his power. About 3 years ago, something happened that was beyond his power to fix. He was diagnosed with 2 kinds of Leukemia. ALL and AML Leukemia. He started receiving various treatments and was given up to 2.5 to 3 years expectancy.
This November (2009) was near the end of that expectancy window. He had a close call in the hospital and my family went down to see him (I am usually the one here at home holding down the fort and taking care of the pets… as well as the kids when the get flown back home after a couple days). I’m the behind the scenes support person. Thankfully my partner is extremely good at frequently articulating her gratitude and acknowledgment that she could not be doing what she needs to do without me at home taking care of everything else.
This last week my partner got word from her Mom that things were declining quickly. She then traveled to help her Mom through the last few days of Jack’s life. Those last few days of life are in no way shape or form easy. Leaving this mortal coil is not at all peaceful. I always wondered when people would say “well at least they went peacefully.” I don’t think that is hardly ever the case. Jack decided around Thanksgiving after that last trip to the hospital to come home — since there was nothing else the Doctors or hospital could do for him. He wanted to have some sort of control over how and where he would spend his final hours.
In the end? No control. All you can hope and pray and plan is that you have been a person of such love, integrity, care and humility so that you have been able to surround yourself with the kind of people who will not only care for you right up until the very end… but will lovingly protect your dignity right up until that last moment… the last breath.
Someone I respect once told me that when we are hoping to help someone in need, or someone who is grieving a loss — that is most important is being… not doing. My partner is so very good at that with her family. She has been invaluable throughout these last three years in her ability to just BE there for her Mom. While we all miss her at home this week… we also know that Jack was so special a man that we would gladly do without her while she lovingly and respectfully helped her Mom take care of Jack during his final restless and relentless hours on this planet. She has the gift of being… and I have the privilege of being a part of her family.
We will all miss you Jack!