Sunday, May 17, 2015

As He Lay Dying

My brother is in hospice care in a VA hospital in Vermont as I write this, and probably only has a few days left on this earth.

Last visit with Thom August 2014
We knew this was coming. He's been suffering from liver failure for quite a while and now has kidney failure. The toxins in his blood are poisoning him and they can't do anything about it at this point. The last time I saw him was August 2014 and he was so sickly I didn't even recognize him at first.

Thom and I have never been that close, at least not since we were young kids. We're very different. Made different life choices. Had different outlooks and priorities. There has been a lot of long-term disagreement and unresolved pain between us. But he's still my brother, and I love him, and I've been grieving for him for a long time, knowing his illness would take him soon.

On my 1st birthday
I've also been grieving for a very long time over the fact that we never made the emotional connection so many siblings enjoy. I have a few male friends who are more like brothers to me than Thom, and while I love them dearly, it reminds me of my own miss-connect with my real brother. Attempts to get closer just never stuck.

Thom is five years older than me. He attended Sierra High School in Whittier, California. He has three children - two sons and one daughter - with whom I am very close. He also has a grandson and three granddaughters, who I adore. I'm not sure how many times Thom was married. I know of three, and while I think that's correct, I'm not positive because he had many relationships over the years and made very little attempt to stay in touch for long stretches of time. His first wife and I are as close as sisters. We often joke that when she and Thom parted, she got me in the divorce.

Thom as young soldier
Thom was also a Viet Nam vet and was on total disability for emotional problems. My undying gratitude goes out the VA Hospital in White River Junction in Vermont. They have taken such good care of him over the years and especially now at the end. The doctors, nurses and staff there have been especially lovely to my niece when she's gone to visit Thom, and to me when I've called for updates. THANK YOU!

I'm almost finished with a digital novella titled THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY, which features Viet Nam vet and ex-cop turned P.I. Jeremiah Jones. I had dedicated the book to my brother and was planning on sending him a hard copy as a surprise for Christmas when it is released. Now he will never see it and that saddens me. He was loved, even if he didn't realize it.

I was able to speak with Thom for a few minutes last Saturday. He knew it was me even though his mind sparked in and out with faulty wiring. We chatted briefly before I said goodbye. I am grateful for that.


Judy Alter said...

Family estrangements are so hard. My prayers for you Sue Ann, and for his wives, children and grandchildren.

Dru said...

I'm keeping you and your family in my prayers.

Alisa said...

So sorry that you weren't able to achieve the closeness that many siblings enjoy. I'm sure it makes this time even more difficult. My thoughts continue to be with you and all the family at this time.