This week has been a tough one for me and my family. My uncle passed away on Saturday. We knew it was coming. The doctor told us on Wednesday that he would not make it through the weekend. He was diagnosed with Stage 3 lunch cancer last fall, and it has been very aggressive. There simply wasn't anything else the doctors could do to fight it. I went to see my uncle several times while he was in the hospital this last time, but not as often as I would have liked. I honestly thought he'd be able to leave and die at home. I thought the doctor was wrong, and that he wouldn't die that quickly. My husband and I went to see him on Friday night and his breathing was better than it had been in days. I told DH that there's no way it would be that weekend. Obviously, I was wrong.
I got the call from one of my cousins around 2pm Saturday that he had passed. Apparently, the whole family besides me knew that my uncle had taken a turn for the worse that morning. Most of the family was at the hospital, waiting. I had no idea, because no one called me. I knew that someone would call me when things changed, so since I hadn't heard from anyone, assumed everything was the same. My friend and I took our babies to have Easter pictures made. We were gone all morning, then ate lunch and had planned to go to the church for the Easter egg hunt. I got the call when we were on the way to the church. So I turned around and went back home. My sister-in-law came and took C to the egg hunt, and my friend went home. I went to the hospital. I knew there was nothing I could do at that point, but I wanted to be with my family.
I was upset that no one had called me. I could have been there with them, said goodbye to my uncle. At the same time, I understood why no one called me. They were all stressed out and already grieving. Several of them assumed someone else had alerted me. My aunt's boyfriend (not the wife of the uncle who died!) told me that my uncle would have wanted me to have a normal day, he wouldn't have wanted us all at the hospital watching him die. Which is true. But still. I wish I had known. But its not like I could have been mad at the family during that time. Even though we all knew he was going to die, and soon, it was still hard to watch.
My aunt (his wife) completely lost it when he finally died. They were taking her out of the hospital in a wheelchair when I got there. It was heartbreaking to see. For the rest of the day, she could remember nothing. Her mind completely blocked out her husband's sickness and passing. She kept asking over and over what had happened. Thankfully, she snapped out of that after she got some rest. Though watching her grieve through the funeral was not easy. I can't imagine how it feels to bury your husband of 51 years.
We all stayed at the hospital for a while after my aunt left, I'm not sure why. I got upset when I went in to see my uncle. He looked terrible. Completely different than he had just the night before. It was shocking. But I left his room and we were all talking and I was getting the details from the day, and the sadness just wasn't hitting me. My cousin and I actually went shopping afterwards. I bought a dress, a shirt, and a pair of shoes. I kept thinking how odd it was to be buying clothes when my uncle just died. But it felt okay. I think my cousin and I needed that distance for a little while.
That night, the family at at the church (my home church). Everyone was subdued, but we had several small children there, so they kept the mood lighter than it would have probably been otherwise. Most of my family decided not to go to church on Easter. My husband and I attend a different church now, so we went. I hate to admit it, but I couldn't even tell you what our pastor preached on that morning. C was quiet, but she wouldn't be still, and then at the end of the service she started inexplicably (and quietly) crying, so I had to take her outside. I kept thinking about my uncle's death and I just couldn't concentrate.
|C in her Easter dress|
The rest of Easter turned out okay. There was another incident that was pretty stressful, but I won't go into details on that one. By the time we got to my in-law's house, I was about done for the day. My eyes were getting red and by the end of the night I looked like a freaky vampire. (I've been wearing my glasses ever since and I hate wearing glasses!) Thankfully, I got some good sleep that night and felt better Monday morning.
I left work Monday early because we were supposed to eat at the church at 5 and then head over to the funeral home for my uncle's wake. That wasn't sad like you'd think. There was so many people there and everyone was loud, so it was hard to be sad, even with my uncle's body right there beside us. We were supposed to greet people from 7-9pm, but they started coming in at 6:30 and didn't stop until 10. It was exhausting.
Tuesday was the funeral. I didn't go to work at all. We had lunch at the church, and went back for supper. The funeral was tough. Us cousins couldn't sit with the family because the private room was too small, so thankfully I didn't have to watch my aunt's grief or that of her sons, but I still broke down. I rarely cry in front of anyone other than my husband, so that was tough for me. I have virtually no memories of my uncle (or most of my childhood, actually), so I was surprised at myself for being so upset. There's a little of that guilt I mentioned in the title to this post. Why can't I remember more about my uncle? I grew up living next to him and spent a lot of time at his house. I had a wonderful childhood; why on earth have I apparently blocked so much of it out??
By Wednesday, life was back to normal. We've stayed home the past two nights, and I imagine we won't be going anywhere tonight, either. Its good to stay home with just my husband and my daughter.
Here's some more guilt. C has been nursing a lot lately. She had been down to just nursing herself to sleep, and maybe first thing in the morning. But the past few weeks, she's been asking for milk all the time. When I ask her why, she says "because I hungry!" or she'll just smile and tell me she needs it. So far, my policy on breastfeeding her at this age has been "don't ask, don't refuse." Meaning, I don't offer her the breast, but if she asks for it I don't refuse. I'm kinda ready for her to wean, but I want it to be her idea, not mine. Sometimes, I'm able to put her off for a little while ("you can have milk after your bath, or after we do ___"), but most of the time she gets too upset if I tell her to wait. I know some of that if her bein a 2 year old and just not liking when things don't go her way, but what if she really needs something that only breastfeeding can provide? Not the actual milk. I know that she can survive just fine without it at this point. I'm sure its still giving her extra nutrients and filling in the gaps of her toddler diet, and I know my milk is still giving her important antibodies to fight off sicknesses. I firmly believe that her eczema/allergies would be much, much worse if it weren't for breastfeeding. But she gets other benefits from breastfeeding at this age. Benefits that are hard to put into words. She feels safe at my breast; its her home base, her safe place. She gets comfort there. People say she's too old for that now, but I disagree.
Last night, someone posted on facebook in a private group that I'm a member of (a group for "extended" breastfeeding mothers) that her toddler was suddenly wanting to nurse way more than normal. This mama also has a newborn. Someone else replied that the mama was probably spending so much time with the newborn that the toddler needed some one-on-one time and missed the cuddling that she got from breastfeeding, so she decided to "need" it all the time again. That hit me because what if that is my C? Obviously, I don't have another baby to worry about, but what if she's needing more of my time right now? And I'm not there to give it to her, because I'm at work all day. She's away from me for 9 hours, every week day. I miss a lot of her life. She gets a ton of attention from my in-laws, but what if she needs it from her mama?
I know there's no point in beating myself up over something I can't change. But the guilt is still there. That would explain why she's nursing so frequently lately. She could also be going through a growth spurt, who knows. (She did grow 1.5 inches since December, so she's had a growth spurt at some point recently!) This morning when I dropped her off she kept saying she didn't want me to leave. She wasn't whining about it, she just stated the fact. Then she told me to be careful cause there are a lot of cars out there. And she made me promise to come back this afternoon. (I hate making that promise, because what if something happens to me and I don't make it home??) It broke my heart. So yes, I have guilt over leaving her every day.
And there you have it. All (well, not all, but a lot) of the emotions I've been dealing with this week. Its been a struggle, for sure. I've been praying a lot, reading from the Bible, asking God for help and strength and patience. Because what else can I do?? I know that He is with me and that I am not going through all this alone, though. That fact does make it easier. I also know that this tough period won't last forever - at least, I pray it doesn't!!