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, November 12, 2010

don't love what i see

ok, so in re-reading my last two posts, i gotta say i'm not loving where this is going.

somehow, dad, i thought i'd always be able to keep this space all about you.  yes, my presence, my signature sense of things, is allowable here, sure, but only as a medium to show people the kind of man you are (pre 9-11) / were (post 9-11).  but it's weird, at least for me, how the "grief process"  -- i still prefer the word "process" over "grief"; who wants to grieve? -- it somehow becomes more about me than you.  how i'm feeling, what you meant to me as a dad, what it means to be here without you.

i remember when grandpa died, and i couldn't do a thing with or for myself -- no process, all grief.  it wasn't cool, how i would spontaneously burst into silent, desperate tears when a tender thought of him crossed my heart -- but at least i didn't have to drag myself through the self-analysis that your death, or rather, my place in your death, seems to be bringing before me.  they say you can't run grief's show.


well, dad, it was 2 months ago tonight that you breathed your last.  hope it wasn't painful or too hard.  seemed pretty workable to me, what your body was asking you to do as you passed.  certainly, it was nothing like what life had asked of you in the weeks and months, maybe even years, leading up to your death.  i remember i wrote that it was a gentle death, complete with your signature twinkle.  it was also kinda open-minded, just like you seemed gone, then you weren't, then maybe it's now, then i guess not  no, not just yet.....................the breaths kept coming, even when we thought surely this one was the last.  even laura, our hospice nurse, waited five minutes to call your time of death because she wanted to be sure.  your final breaths were, well, remarkably flexible.  just like you.  whew.  people die the way they live, i've come to say.

sister cheryl was the one who checked in with me today.  funny, how aware she seems to be of the dates and the times.  and how clueless i am.  she says it took her weeks to get through a saturday night without reliving pieces of your passing.  me -- symbolic dates kinda sneak up on me, they're haphazard and arrive without fanfare.  i'll be one of those post-stroke patients who is never fully oriented, no matter how much self-insight i display! 

i hope cheryl never stops checking in on your anniversary dates.

well, dad, we miss you.  that much is clear.  and, as anxious as i am about being in a "good place" when we put your body to rest a week from monday,  i am sure looking forward to experiencing the honor of your resting place.  and seeing your beautiful flag-covered casket once again.  you make me so proud.  truly you do.

hope you're finding heaven to be as delightful a place as everyone envisions it to be.
always, k.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Karen, first off all my heartfelt condolences for yours and your awesome family's indescribable (although I admire your brilliant attempts) loss of your amazing father, Phil Bruce. Don't worry, I consider myself a person who is now "used to" losing loved ones, and I can assure you that its still about them, especially since no matter how we look at it, human nature has made sure that our survival instinct is still intact, although we can be glad, for sure, when we know our loved one is in Heaven with Jesus! I'm sorry this note is so late. I meant to send a card to your mother Patty, (my maternal cousin) by now, and as usual life has delivered umpteen challenges since receiving cousin Sandi's email on 9/14/2010 ("Saying a Family Goodbye"). However, the prompting of The Holy Spirit has been especially strong this morning, and it was clear to me that I have been allotted this few minutes to express to you how inspiring your father was and always will be to me and my family. I have always enjoyed Phil and Patty's Easter letters that never neglected to give glory to the Lord. I tape the letters to my front door, and if anyone asks, I describe your dad as a "former rocket scientist turned carpenter." Their story never ceases to amaze people, and if you get a chance, maybe you could blog a few memories or anecdotes about that period in yours and your family's lives, and how it helped shape who you are today?

    When I followed Sandi's link in her email to your blog, I immediately thought of the day I met you for the first time when you and Patty were visiting (cousin) Donna and her husband, Craig. Donna was so sweet to take us on a tour of the Focus on the Family campus, where she worked. I remember being impressed by what a lovely young lady Phil and Patty raised (you!) It was evident that their hard work and dedication to The Lord had "paid off," as it still is to this day.

    A couple of summers ago, Donna called to invite me to drop by for a visit at their home in C.S. while Phil, Patty and your two brothers were passing through on their way either to or from (sorry - not sure of the logistics) their respective doctor's visits. I was babysitting my little granddaughter that day, so I brought her along, and we all had a very enjoyable visit/lunch together. I took a short video clip, (mpg) which captured a few seconds of your dad and mom laughing together, and I will send a copy of it in Patty's card. I really feel privileged to comment in your blog, and hope we will continue to stay in touch. Keep up your good work - After losing grandparents, a brother, a sister, a cousin's newborn grandson, my parents, many friends and my husband, I have learned that grieving can be as "natural" as laughing. I hope you find it both comforting and yes, sad. Your father deserves both, and both are OK. With love, Janette Stern (your great-aunt Aletha's daughter).