Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Six Months

Six Months ago today, at 5AM, Samantha passed away. I'd never been present at the death of a human being before that moment, so I have little basis for comparison, but I guess it was peaceful, as death goes. Well, no. No it really wasn't. For three hours her body clung onto life. Her lungs strained to take in breath. Her heart beat strongly. This was a young woman who did not want to die, and who had no business dying at this stage in her life. I've written previously about what I saw as the travesty of a human body shutting down piecemeal like that. One infected organ is all it takes to start a chain reaction. And in her case, the liver was key. Had the liver survived, it would not have poisoned the brain with toxic ammonia levels, which then would not have shut down her other systems.

And all that is very technical and clinical and doesn't change the fact that for three hours I sat by her side and watched helplessly as her body killed itself. I think that was the true horror - not being able to do anything. I considered several times calling 911 and getting her hospital care. But then I remembered how the surgery to remove her infected port had really sapped what little strength she had left. The two considerations that kept me from dialing those three numbers were:

1) Sam's oncologist had thrown in the towel. He had remained hopeful up until the last couple months, but then he'd been very realistic and told us in no uncertain terms that she wasn't going to last long, and that no amount of care in a hospital was going to change that.

2) At one point about a week prior to her passing, I'd told Sam, "any time you want to go to the hospital, you just let me know." To which she gave a look as if to say what are you, crazy? and replied, "Heck no. You're giving me the best care I've ever had."

For the month or so after she died, I wondered if I'd done the right thing. Then my dad died in the hospital, with every intervention under the sun - something he said he didn't want - and I knew I'd spared Samantha that final indignity. I guess that should be of some consolation. I did give her comfort, love, dignity and a hand to hold all the way to the door. And I did my best to give my dad the same.

Was down all evening yesterday with a migrane. Never got them until my mid to late 20s, and only 3 times or so a year. After Sam was diagnosed, I could count on one showing up at least once a month (and maybe staying for two or three days). One was so severe Sam took me to the ER where they gave me a shot of Imitrex that made my head feel like it had transformed into a Hawaiian volcano god. Then I read that the drug had been implicated in cases of heart failure and declined to fill the prescription. Exploding heart, not so much, thanks. I kept them in check with a combination of diet, exercise, chiropractic, massage and Excedrin. They declined in frequency and severity after Sam passed away, but still manage to sneak up on me if I don't keep up with the first 4 deterrents. Seems to be better today.

Woke up at 4AM to Wiley whuffing and whining in the spot where Sam's hospice bed had been (which is directly over my bed downstairs). Put on the headphones and brought up the mp3 random playlist on the laptop (which I generally keep next to the bed).

First song, And Tears Fell - Devil's Lullaby (one of our songs currently undergoing re-recording for the tribute CD).
And should you fall,
One winter's day
The angels and devils
Around us surround us
And take your soul away

Next song, Echo & The Bunnymen - The Killing Moon.
In starlit nights I saw you
So cruelly you kissed me
Your lips a magic world
Your sky all hung with jewels
The killing moon
Will come too soon

Next song, Brendan Perry - The Captive Heart
But then if I close my eyes
I can see you standing there
Your face in permanence smiles
Your lips a chalice
Seems like I've loved you all my life
Never thought I'd find you
One day the muse may lend these words wings
So I can touch you

Next song, Sarah Shannon - I'll Run Away
Two thousand miles and a day since I left my home
I watch the sun leave the sky as I sit here alone
Nothing to do - I don't care, I don't care, I don't care
Just watching beautiful time pass by without you there

Next song, And Tears Fell - Fire Inside (another of the works in progress)
I never thought you'd run away like that
I always thought we'd be together
I never dreamed that it could hurt so much
I always thought I'd take it better

Okay honey. Thanks for checking in. I love you.


oren_ishii said...


Thinking about you today...


LL Cool P said...

Same from me -- **big hug**.

Anonymous said...

Hi Todd, coincidentally just found this today after checking Sam's old blog. I am one of her S97 pals, in fact my son and Kayleigh share the same birthday, so I thought of you and her on that day too.

HUGS and well. . . more hugs,

Snowbear said...


go check it out.