29May

Anita Goes First, May 17th, 2018

I knew that Anita was not doing well, but I had no idea how close she was to dying.  I asked my son Travis to check in on her.  He said he was passing her apartment and would call me.  We had done this before, he stopped in to her apartment and I would facetime with Anita.  The last time Anita looked okay, but she asked Travis who I was? Ugh.

Anyway, this time Anita wasn’t home and was in the hospital.  Travis went up to her room, but passed her by, but then heard “Nephew, get in here!”.  He was shocked to see her.  Within minutes he was on the phone to me, telling me that I must come down to see her.  He was desperate, made arrangements for an Uber driver to pick me up and made arrangements to bring me home.  So I did it, I went down to the hospital.

Anita looked awful.  End stage liver disease is a brutal killer that shuts down the body’s natural cleaning defenses.  From a healthy large woman with stunning blonde hair, she had shrunk to a hundred pounds and her hair had darkened to auburn.  The skin of her body had turned a rusty red color, blotchy and uneven and everywhere I touched felt rough, except her face.  I came to her bedside to show her love, to hold her and to rub her skin and legs and arms.  She was still lucid and recognized me.  Travis called while I was with her, and as we were hanging up, I said “I love you.”  Behind me I heard from Anita “I wish I had that.”  I turned around and looked at Anita and it was one of those moments that burn into your memory like a brand burns into cow hide.  I asked her “what?” and her face crumpled.  Then, we are thankfully distracted.  Anita is in vast amounts of pain, it is consuming her.  Later, her temperature gets warm, but the nurses do not worry.  Soon, she is sedated and asleep, and so I travel home.

The other side (literally) is Anita’s identical twin Anna Lee.  Anna Lee was with Anita, almost always when I visited.  She cleaned Anita up, fed her and caught me up on all that was happening.  I know that Anna Lee’s grief is overwhelming.  I can see it in the way she stands and the way she moves.  We don’t speak of it.  The two who were born together, will not die together, they must say good-bye in their own time.  I’m not sure how Anna Lee will walk through this.  I am scared for her.  I know what grief does to us (my sisters and I) and it is harsh.

So now is the end of possibility.  We must surrender to the doneness of it. 

Anita was severely damaged in our childhoods.  We all were, some recover and some do not.  The positive thinkers want to say that those who create success after living through the hell of a childhood like that is proof that anyone can do it.  I will disagree, and wholeheartedly so.  A hellish, nightmarish childhood will follow you throughout your life.  No one ever recovers from that, it is just a matter of degree.  In my family all of the degrees are covered, from no recovery, to as much recovery as 35 years of therapy can give you.

The damage wrought by such a childhood is insidious and as already stated, lifelong.  The damage has no boundaries and seeks to cause additional damage.  The damage wreaks havoc on the next generation and from there, can extend beyond life~long.

For Anita, there was no recovery.  Addiction swallowed her whole by the time she was sixteen years old and it was that addiction that killed her.  She walked through life unhappy, hurt and angry.  Worse, she expressed her frustration over and over again to all of those around her and ended up pushing away those who loved her.  She was unhappy, and it ended that way.  

Dear Anita; I hold your loving spirit in my arms and with me always.  Your sisters loved you terribly, you could never change that, ever.

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