Mikey, Forever in My Heart

Last night, I experienced one of the most incredible moments of grief since my son’s death June 9, 2015 from pancreatic cancer. I was inconsolable as an ocean of tears rushed down my face and my thoughts were not really thoughts at all, just a mind full of grief which no words could convey as my husband listened silently, knowing there was nothing he could say except that, “…it’s okay to cry…” And, cry, I did.

Since arriving home May 22nd, my body was filled with stress of not knowing whether Mikey had died during the night. I wondered how much worse his pain had increased, of which he never, never ever complained. He suffered in silence, and believe me, the torture his body endured was something I cannot imagine.

Yes, he had Stage IV pancreatic cancer which was diagnosed too late – they all are. Pancreatic cancer is a death sentence. There is, at least not yet, no early detection for it and even if there were, I do not know what treatment might give the patient years instead of weeks or months. In my son’s case, at the time of diagnosis, the cancer had metastasized to his liver. A short while later, days, it was discovered that it was also in the abdominal lining (ascitis) and his lung and his bowel. The doctors said that he “might” have three to six months left. Mikey was game to do whatever they prescribed, to give him a few months of quality time with his young family.

The complications of the ascites were incredible, it was a vicious cycle of fluid accumulating in his abdomen, causing bloating and inability to eat. When they began draining him, he became dehydrated and the home nurse would come to re-hydrate him and then the next day, drain him. The largest quantity of fluid they drained in a twenty-four hour was seven liters. SEVEN LITERS!

Mikey had already lost an incredible amount of weight by the time I arrived to be with he and his little family. When I saw him at the hospital, he was skin and bones, I thought, “He looks like an advanced AIDS patient.” I do not know how he pressed on for two more months, two more weeks and two more days.

What I saw during my stay, was my baby, my son, sitting at the kitchen table, trying to eat, trying to eat a bowl of Rice Krispies. He managed two spoonfuls and moments later, retreated to his bedroom where he vomited in the master bathroom. He spent more time kneeling over the toilet than anywhere else.

The bones in his spine were protruding. I was afraid to hug his frail body. Mikey had never been overweight, he was six foot tall and on the healthy, thin side. Now, he was starving to death. He could not keep food down, the pain medicine disallowed him to have bowel movements, or was it the growth in his bowels not allowing anything to pass? On the other hand, what was there to pass since he could not even keep water down?

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©Swoosieque
Mikey’s little ones

I watched my son look at his four year old daughter and how I held back my tears, I do not know. I wondered how tortured his mind must be, knowing that he would not have the chance to raise her. Did he wonder if she would remember him? Most likely, his two year old son would not remember him. I, on the other hand, will never forget him.

Mikey is in my every thought, every breath, every heartbeat, every tear, every daydream. A part of my heart has been torn out by the roots, like a tree ripped from the bosom of the earth during a tornado, the earth’s wound would heal in time through the help of bull dozers and graders. For my heart, even though scar tissue may form over time, it will bleed for the rest of my life.

I kept busy from the break of day until evening, keeping busy kept me sane. Or so I thought. I think subconsciously I also wanted to honor my son by “doing” things. Mikey was always busy, always “doing.” My busyness helped at the start. There was so much to do at home after being gone two months. I had a dog who was incontinent who stunk up the house (my husband loss his sense of smell) and I had carpets to clean. Meanwhile, my other dog had severe lesions on his legs which I had been treating since August of 2014 – cleaning, applying antibiotic ointment and bandaging sometime twice daily. I made projects for myself, sometimes big projects.

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©Swoosieque
Buddy, my white shadow.
In his healthy years.

On June 5th, as I bandaged Buddy’s leg, I broke down and cried and told my husband that I must take Buddy to the Vet, we cannot continue like this, there were tendons hanging from one of his open lesions. (My husband has issues with death and no matter what, did not want Buddy to be euthanized. I, on the other hand, do not believe in extended suffering if there is no cure. I believe in euthanization.) So, off I went to the Vet with Buddy and I came home alone.

Four days later, I got the call from one of my other sons, hesitantly informing me of Mikey’s death. I had been waiting for that call. I did not fall to the floor and wail. I knew it was coming soon. All I could say was that I was glad that he was finally out of his excruciating pain. I couldn’t believe it was my voice saying that. I heard myself say, “I’m glad he is out of pain…” And I was glad that the pain was over for Mikey. My pain, a different pain, will be with me for the rest of my life, like a shadow person walking along side me, one who I will try to learn to live with since it will never go away.

– – – – – I have avoided writing about this experience. I thought that I needed to get my thoughts organized first and then I learned that in my case, there is no such thing as organizing grief, there is no such thing as making sense of my son’s death. I have also learned that keeping busy was also a way to avoid facing the ugliness of my new reality and the wound in my heart.

I had saved every text message, every email shared between myself and my other sons during my stay at Mikey’s home. I thought that when I was “ready” to write about this, I would refer back to the dailiness and write in some congruent fashion about that time. I know now, that that approach is not the right one for me. I just need to write. I need to re-learn how to live in this new place of loss.

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©Swoosieque
Mikey, forever in my heart.

None of losing a child makes sense and my writing may follow suit and be incongruent and senseless, but, that is the only way back for me. I have to write.

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28 responses to “Mikey, Forever in My Heart

  1. Death is always senseless. Pancreatic cancer is a scourge. Cry. Write. Whatever helps.

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  2. I am so very sorry for your loss. I cannot begin to imagine what you and your family are going through. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you all.

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    • Thank you so much Debi. This road is tougher than when I was diagnosed with bc. I have to write about the struggles I’ll be experiencing on my way to learning to live with my loss.

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  3. I am a bc cancer survivor of 9 years…I feel so sad for you and for the loss of your loved ones. Sending you big hugs and lots of prayers…and keep writing to get out all the hurt…

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    • Thank you for your kind thoughts and taking the time to send them. Every thoughtful gesture helps, even the ones from friends who honestly say that they don’t know what to say. Thank you again!

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  4. May you find peace and comfort somehow, someway.

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    • Thank you Julia. I honestly don’t know ‘what’ I’m going to find as I grow through this, I know that I have changed dramatically, already, and not for the worse. I look at things way differently now, the importance (or lack thereof) of worries or concerns seem to have way less power now.

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  5. I am so very sad for your loss, Swoosie, Words cannot bring you the comfort you need, but treasure your memories with Mickey. Big hugs!

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    • Thank you so much for being brave enough to comment. I know how hard it is to try and comfort someone in this situation, words seem so incompetent, but, it’s truly the thought that counts and feels like “spirit” hugs.

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  6. Thank you for writing such a personal and painful post, so the rest of us know that what you are going through is survivable, even if sometimes, just barely.

    And for those of us, who can relate personally, your words are extra powerful.

    I know a little of your type of suffering, and I hope you believe me, and I’m so sorry that you lost someone that you loved and love this much.

    Luckily the love can never go away, and maybe that is all we are anyways.

    If you want to share some pain, check out my entry yesterday, I am sure you will see we are on the same page.

    Sometimes even when things suck, it is helpful to know they suck for other people too.

    http://wp.me/p67ZVU-lo

    Love from my family to yours.

    ST

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    • Thank you Simonsez. I don’t know if my writing about this tragedy can help anyone else, I hope so, because none of us are alone and if writing is therapy for me, and you, maybe, just maybe, reading our words may be therapy for someone else. Love, Swoosieque

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  7. I sit here thinking of what to say but I can’t..I’m tearing up. I lost my Aunt to Liver cancer recently and…words are just failing me now.

    I will just grieve with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughts. I know this topic is unappealing, but, it’s a part of life for too many of us and I know the healing can only come from within my own self/spirit. Through writing, I believe I am on the right path to learning to live with my loss. And it sure helps to know that my bloggin’ buddies have such big hearts, like yours.

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  8. I am so sorry for your loss. Cancer is such a cruel disease. You are absolutely right in that there is no organizing of grief. You should write whenever and however you must. Again, my condolences.

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  9. Your son was a beautiful little boy. As a mother, I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling right now. As a mother of a young child, I know what he must have been feeling and thinking as he suffered from his cancer. It’s unimaginable unfairness. No small child should lose a parent. No mother should lose their child or watch them suffer. You are in my thoughts. I send you healing and light. From one mother to another, from one cancer patient to another, I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  10. So sorry for your loss x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I recently lost my own son, Michael, a little over 2 months ago to a rare aggressive lymphoma. We also called him Mikey even though he was 37 years old. Like your Mikey his suffering was unimaginable yet he handled it with courage and dignity. I struggle every day to keep going because I know that is what he would want me to do. I think the only thing that is keeping me sane are my four beautiful grandchildren, one of them being my son’s only child. His little boy is only three and can’t understand why daddy is not coming home anymore. Like you I also prayed to God at the end to please end his suffering. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about him. Part of me died along with him. My daughter is devastated at losing her only sibling. My husband lost his child and best friend. I know that they say that life must go on but it will never be normal again. My prayers and good wishes go out to you and I share your grief

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    • Thank you, Josie, for sharing your heartfelt story. My Mikey was also 37 when he died, his children were 2 & 4. I’m pushing forward to live my life, but, yes, there is a part that will always be missing. {{Hugs}}

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      • Swoosique. Thank you for your good thoughts and wishes. We take things day by day. Our little Michael talks about his daddy every day and we encourage him to do so. Whenever he talks about daddy he has a big smile on his face. I know the upcoming holidays will be hard on all of us but we are trying to keep it as normal as possible for all our little ones. I don’t know if you are a believer in the afterlife but I have received enough messages from our Michael to let us know that he is happy and no longer suffering. I know there are many people out there that love to pull scams on others when they are grieving but the messages I have received are from people who I know and trust. All the messages from my son keep telling us to move on with our lives because he is okay. This has helped all of us with our healing. To all those who are still suffering a loss – please know that our loved ones are still around us every day watching over us

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