Thursday, September 23, 2010

Remembering Mazha

Today there was no cake. No candles. Just a simple flower arrangement that we laid at the entrance of her hospice room. She would have been 64 today.

To honor her memory, we’ve started “Team Dudek” for the Walk to Defeat ALS that is taking place this fall (October 30, the week before we scatter her ashes). This is an exciting opportunity for us to work together to support those like Kensington's Mazha who are affected by Lou Gehrig's Disease and to spread awareness of the urgency to find treatments and a cure.

No one else like Kensington should have to lose their Mazha to a horrible disease such as ALS. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis... Mazha fought her battle from September 12 (the day she was admitted into the hospital) until Feb 22 (the morning she lost her battle). The frightening thing is every 90 minutes a person in this country is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes another person will lose their battle against this disease. All we can say is "enough is enough!"

For a recap of Mazha's fight, visit here and scroll to the last post (bottom of the page) and read that one first.

To make a donation (yes, your $5 really can help!), you can visit "Remembering Mazha"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In my life... I loved you more.

As our family approached the seven month anniversary of Mazhas passing, we were hit with another emotional blow. Her sister, my “Auntie” Carol was admitted to the hospital because of issues with her heart, which due to complications, affected other organs.

Kensington and I had a prearranged flight to Texas, to remember Mazha on her birthday (tomorrow). But earlier last week Auntie Carol was moved from the hospital to hospice. The same facility Mazha was cared for in. I received the call at work from my Simone, my sister, who with emotion stuck in the hollows of her throat, told me that she was in hospice… and in room 103 - across from where Mazha passed.

I wrapped up things at work, changed my flight, and headed ‘home’ on this past Thursday. The past three trips home haven’t been pleasant… all arranged with an delicate mission to accomplish - a diseased to diagnose, a last Christmas to celebrate and a funeral to plan. This trip wasn’t going to be much different.

There are places I remember. All my life… though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better… Some have gone and some remain.

Initially, walking into hospice on Thursday I was fine, until we hit the Chapel. I tried to swallow and couldn’t. We got to the nurses station and were greeted with recognized smiles. We turned the corner and passed the kitchen - tears flowed uncontrollably. Moms room was just inches away. Billy Strait was occupying her former bed. (Unfortunately, the next day the bed was once again open).

All these places have their moments. With lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living, in my life I've loved them all.

With a quick smear of the tears with the back of my hand, we entered Auntie Carol’s room. That afternoon, she was somewhat lucid - knowing that we were in the room, shaking her head to let us know that she understood what we were saying, all while her eyes remained closed.

Friday, Kensington accompanied us. She knew the building like she was in it yesterday. “Phhhish” she called out as we approached the ‘quite room’ that houses the aquarium. The pitter-patter of her feet running down the hall to the playroom aroused the nurses to come and find her. They had been waiting for her arrival for days - recognizing the family from the moment Carol was admitted - and asking when “lil diva” would be arriving.

Saturday… Sunday… Monday… Tuesday - each day her responsiveness was getting slower until there was no more. On Monday we were told her vitals lead them to believe it would be anywhere between “ two hours to two days”. Today, seven months to the day that Mazha left us (just before 2pm), she passed away. Wrapped in love with her own version on Lois… she was comforted in her final days by “Flint”.

Though I know I'll never lose affection…for people and things that went before. I know I'll often stop and think about them. In my life I love them all.