Saturday, February 07, 2009

Another blog post about how I'm not posting enough on my blog? Or... I'm always where I'm s'pposed to be

Okay, so I promise not to say how long it has been since I posted, or how I should post more, but really...

I really do wish I was here more often and sharing much more meaningful posts than the occasional new work post. Sometimes that's what it seems life is being reduced to though: I listed this, I'm packing packages, etc. That's a big part of making the web a big part of the way you sell your work. Chasing online sales by creating a presence everywhere you can. Twitter, Facebook, Blog, re-list, repeat.

I truly know how fortunate I am to be creating for a living. It's a process that finds its ways to remind you that there cannot be good times without bad, or bad without good.

Over the last year, my wife's mother, Jan, found it harder and harder to breathe. Despite multiple check-ups, nothing was ever found to be the cause until this past Christmas Eve. Her primary care physician (the same one who responded to her multiple office visits to determine a cause for the breathing and other problems with an exasperated and aggravated, "Well...what do you want me to do about it?") had a member of the office staff call and let us know that the diagnosis was most likely ovarian cancer. To her credit, the doctor had tearfully told her in person the week before that cancer was likely the culprit. But that previous office visit was the last time that doctor saw her. The doctor was there but not available to see her patient on following visits. We're all busy, right?

Over the next 24 days, the preliminary diagnosis was confirmed by pathology, and treatment began. She was hospitalized at first, while treatment focused on what was thought to be blood clots in her lungs, and reducing fluid in her abdomen (a symptom of advanced Ovarian Cancer).

Her breathing became easier with the fluid gone, but there was debate about the clots in the lungs. While that can be a symptom of active cancer, her pulmonologist felt that it was not clots, but tumors. Her trip home was brief, as the fluid returned and her breathing got worse, and she was re-admitted to the hospital. Seven days later, she was gone. The cancer had spread to her lungs.

On the evening of January 17th, she just stopped breathing. She had already said she did not want any more procedures and did not want to be resuscitated. I was standing in the lobby of Indochine, the always hopping local Thai restaurant, waiting for take out. We had left the hospital about an hour before. 5 minutes prior, I had talked to my sister-in-law, who was spending the night in Jan's room. There was little or no change in Jan's condition. The the call came that we needed to get to the hospital as soon as we could. We raced across town, through several red lights, but we were too late.

We think she held on until most of the family had gone for the night. She constantly told us to go home in the last few days, to stop worrying about her.

A few days before she passed, I was waiting for the doctor (the lung guy, not her Primary Care) to check in on Jan. I had stopped even trying to get any work done. I was fortunate to realize that this situation called for me to do anything and everything that I could to make this easier for my wife and her siblings and for my children. Two years ago I would not have been able to recognize that. I would have been stressed about work and how much I was getting behind, and I just would not have been available to my family.

She was sleeping, and the room was growing dark. My wife had just gone home after waiting all day for a doctor, any doctor, to come through so that we could find out something more about Jan's prognosis. At that point, we still did not know whether she was going to make it or not.

Jan woke up and called me over. She told me I had been a good son-in-law. I don't remember what I said. When I told my wife later what Jan had said, my wife started to cry. "She knows she's going", she said.

The doctor never showed, but that was fine. I know that's not really why I was there that night.

So, there was a lot of bad this past January, but a lot of good as well. There is a big hole in our lives where Jan used to be. Personally, I was lucky enough to truly experience being where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing. I spent a large part of my free time over the last few years learning about that, and now I know what that feels like. I never once thought I needed to be at work instead. My son finally learned to do an Ollie, my wife is learning that she will be able go on without her mother in her life, my oldest daughter learned a lot about loss, and our youngest daughter taught us all that we can be sad for our loss, but we should be happy for Jan.

My business/professional life kept going without my full attention. Lots of folks had to wait longer than they should have to receive their purchases, but they were all very understanding. A lot of the things I have been working on career-wise over the last year came to fruition. Catalogs came out, major retailers began carrying my work, other major retailers are considering carrying my work, etc. All great things, things that make me feel good about what I have done as an artist.

But I feel so much better that with all that going on, all I cared about is what I needed to be doing as a husband, father and son-in-law.


Brenda // Phydeaux said...

This is a lovely and meaningful post that brought tears to my eyes, thinking of my loved ones who've gone on, often while I was stressing out about work and school and other things that in the end are absolutely meaningless. My thoughts go out to you and your family.

Amanda said...

Buckets of positive healing vibes to you and your family...

CourtneyP said...

Very powerful post. I lost my mother 2.5 yrs ago to Cancer that gave us a mere 2mos. from diagnosis to her passing. I learned more in that short time than in my entire life. I view it as her last gift to all that loved her. It is in the hours of crisis and pain that we find out what we are truly made of. For some it is a wake up call and for others a blessing. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Joshua Martens said...

Very touching and sincere post John. I'm sorry to hear about this. My prayers go out to you and your family.

Lana said...

I came to your blog via youtube, etsy, your website, etc. to read more about your art. Instead, I found this post and knew immediately that although others related to it, I needed to read it as well. I lost my dear Mom over 2 years ago, having a few weeks of wondering why weren't the doctors accomplishing anything during her illness? Losing a loved one certainly makes us sit up and take notice of what's important in our lives. Thank you for the reminder, and know that your family is in my thoughts and prayers. I'll be back to visit your art another day...