Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Life . . . and Death

Tonight at around 11:00pm Thomas' cousin, Ruth passed away following a short battle with cancer. She called us a few weeks before Christmas to let us know she had ovarian cancer and would have to have surgery. She had that surgery on December 23. At that time they found that the cancer had metastasized to her liver. She underwent some treatments but they were too much for her, she wasn't eating much and started losing weight. Ruth and her husband, Chris made a decision to stop the treatments. A decision that Ruth's family had strong opinions about and they let Ruth know that they didn't agree with her decision. We visited Ruth quite a few times since Christmas and slowly watched her decline. It was amazing how fast she faded. This past Saturday it was obvious that she didn't have much time left. She had lost more weight and she was jaundiced. She wasn't talking much and she would drift out for short bits of time. The last two days she has been pretty uncomfortable and Chris was medicating her to keep her pain down which sedated her and we weren't able to really visit with her. Well, she is no longer suffering and I know Chris is going to have some rough days ahead. They have been married for about 30 years so I know he will miss her.

I have worked in the medical field for over 25 years and I have experienced lots of sad situations. My feelings are that there are worse things than death. Life and death are totally intertwined and it is inevitable that we will all die. No matter how hard we try, no matter what medical interventions are tried at some point our lives will end. I have found that the person dying isn't the one that isn't accepting it - it is usually the people left behind. I also have found that a lot of the religious people I know have a harder time with death. This confuses me - if you have such faith wouldn't accepting death as part of life be comforting. It really makes me sad when a family has difficulty accepting someone's decision to stop trying to fight the inevitable and just let go. They have so much on their minds and then family intervenes and puts pressure on them and ends up making the last days more difficult.

Of course I am sad tonight and I will certainly miss Ruth but that is something I must deal with. I know with all my heart she is in a much better place than she was in the last few months. But I have lots of memories that make me smile and I respect her for the decisions she made. Goodbye Ruth, you will be missed and please keep a watchful eye over us.

Ruth Jimenez
March 3, 1959 - April 20, 2010

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