HOW OUR BLOG BEGAN, in AUGUST 2010: As many of you know, Phil has been struggling with a very complex series of neurological issues for about 5 years. This past spring, the issues became especially intense as a result of an unexpected cognitive decline and a fall on May 15th that resulted in a head injury and further decline. And then, on July 16th things catapulted to unbelievable, as Phil suffered from a severe "electrical storm" in his brain that essentially created a status of brain death for two full days. Inexplicably, the very morning that neurologists and other medical team members were planning removal of life support, Phil began breathing on his own and his brain waves returned to a stable, while still abnormal, level. Since then, each day has been a unique journey. And while he and his body continue to demonstrate a will and capacity to live, he continues to have severe deficits and it is quite uncertain as to the path he will take. As loved ones close in can attest to, it has been tricky to keep up emotionally with all of his changes, and provide the needed support. We can only imagine the hard work Phil has gone through as his brain has taken him through such roller coaster experiences. It is our goal here to keep family and close friends apprised of Phil's ongoing story, and to build connections that honor him.

AND THEN, SEPTEMBER 11, 2010....Dad's remarkable journey alongside us culminated in a gentle, generous death.

And so, my goal here now as his daughter is simply this: to record snippets...pieces of his life that my memory offers back to me, pieces of myself as I learn to live without a dad. I hope all who meander by find life, and hope, and peace.

Friday, September 10, 2010

ahhhhh....more precious time?!

well, mom, dad, cheryl and i (along with tim) have parted ways for the evening.  dad lives on.  the doctor who saw him tonight says that his heart rate is quite elevated (now 140 beats per minute rather than 60-100, which is the norm).  and that surprisingly, his lungs are now clear (they have been coarse for the past few days).  this means that he will likely not end up ending life with a type of "suffocation" death (which, several days ago when his lungs were filling with fluid, the doctor said was likely.  He had worked to prepare us, stating that while this type of passing is difficult for bedside loved ones -- the air hunger, the gasping, and the gurgling --  thankfully due to adivan and morphine, it is not typically difficult for the patient.)  this doctor was an amazing, unexpected help for each of us tonight.  we learned lots of new things, and not once, not twice, but three times he asked us if we had any further questions.  to fully appreciate this is to know that mom and i, ever the information seekers, seldom experience this level of patience and investment at the physician level. hospice however...yet another way that these guys break the mold.   he took lots of time to fill in our end-of-life knowledge gaps.  one of which, the ever-present backdrop priority, is the "when" of it all.  in saying we won't likely have more than two or three more days, he gives us the idea that perhaps, in fact, today may not actually be the day after all. 

i must admit, i feel almost giddy.  first and foremost, sister cheryl is here.  the sensation as a little sister that my competent big sis is here to save the day...well it's palpable.  and effectively  indescribable. she wonders at her inherent "hero status" (simply by stepping off the plane -- but i know as well as anyone that, with 4 growing kids at home, even this thing is no small feat).  second, is the sense that i may not need to see my dad strain for his final breaths. (i did see this status for about an hour two days ago, until re-positioning shifted the demand on his lungs.)  how it will look, exactly, no one is able to outline...but the idea that we may not have to suffer beside him....well, giddy is really the best word.  third and finally, is the sense that i keep getting more time with my dad.  still, after all this time, i thrill at the idea of more.  Insatiable, i am.  well, perhaps this word isn't perfect....but it's close.  

jonathan and bethany will be here in the morning.  would be strange and wonderful, all of us in the same room, loving our dad, and wishing him well as he enters eternity.

i cannot tell you how hopeful i am that another late night call will not come to us tonight.

thank you again, each of you, for all your kindness and support.
soon we will be living with a dad-gap in our lives, but for now -- we phil bruce kids are gifted with just a little more time.
xoxo, k.


  1. I love what you said about Cheryl, your big sis, and how much you're looking forward to Jonathan and Bethany coming down from Flagstaff this morning. Daniel will be there soon, too.

    I remember when dad passed away, one of the most wonderful things that came out of those last several weeks was how close it brought family together. What a gift. Truly, nothing is wasted.

    Love you!

  2. "They say" (whoever "they" are) that a lot of people at near-death want to be surrounded by their loved ones, and, want permission to "go"... I was praying yesterday that your sister would arrive before your dad passed so she could be there, too. That's all I could think about all morning! My step-dad swears that his sister hung on until he made the drive from AZ to CA, told her he was there and it was "OK" for her to go rest and be in peace before she let go. Then she did. Your dad knows Who is waiting for him, arms outstretched... and he also knows whose arms are still holding him tight here, too.

    Love to all,

  3. Karen, each time I checked your blog, I try to brace myself for the news that your dad is with Christ -- and then breathe a sigh of "relief" I guess for lack of better word after I've read your post. I am so thankful for the "extra time" you guys have had with your dear father and that it sounds like your siblings will all be there together soon. I know just what you mean about being giddy that your Big Sis is there -- they may not agree with their "hero status", but they are to us little sisters just because of who they are.

    Please give your mom a big hug from me!
    Kathy Tuttle

  4. karli

    you might be right about the permission loved ones need to "go". and how grateful i am that cheryl is here to give that to dad. plus, she's been reading a book about heaven to him. you know he's happy that she came into town!

    i know you know all about the big sis's. and i remember that ours would hang out while we were nearby. just knowing they're around is all we need sometimes! thanks for following our unfolding story, and for understanding the hope for delay, while at the same time knowing that his going to be with Christ is what it's ultimately all about.

    i'll always think of the wisdom you've imparted through this process. one of which: nothing is wasted. much, much love from one little sis to another.


    I tried to write on your blog but was unsuccessful so will try here. My thoughts and prayers have been with you these past several days since learning of your dad's illness.

    Thinking of you all reminds me of the death of my parents. I wasn't actually with my mom who was dying of cancer when she died, we were across town going through things at her house. I was at my breaking point when I asked God how much longer it would be. Within 2 minutes the phone rang with the news that my mother had passed. My sister and I had both spoken with my mom earlier that day and had given her permission to die. We promised her we would be okay without her. We aren't sure if she even heard us say that, since she seemed to be in a coma, but we were relieved in saying those words to her. Iam sure you have already said those words to your dad, but if not, do it. I truly believe that for some people, that is all that needs to be said to allow that person permission to move on.

    I was sitting by my dad holding his hand at 1 in the morning when he died. It was very quiet, dark and peaceful. His deep and labored breaths just stopped. Again not really what I expected to happen, but glad that I was able to be there as he transitioned from this life to the next. The irony is that I don't ever remember a time in my life where I wanted to hold my dad's hand, but yet it seemed so natural that

    May God continue to be with you all as you go forward and begin to walk down a new path without your dad, husband , brother, uncle,
    cousin or just friend. God's peace to all of you. Bonita