Friday, January 15, 2010

To Rex

I wrote this blog, in October, and felt it was too personal, at the time, to post. I gave it to Rex on paper. Somehow I worried, knowing my brother reads this blog, that he would be upset knowing that I worry about him. Now I think that maybe it's a good thing, for him to know that.

Rex's brother, a picture of health, died suddenly in October. Recently, on my other blog home, mothers in medicine, a guest poster talked about the death of her father. He was a mentor. Another doctor, whose father was also deceased, wrote in a comment. It inspired me to appreciate my own dad, who I hope is very far from death.

I tried to finish my last Conway hangover case – extra levels on a cervix LEEP, on Wednesday morning after John’s Halloween Parade. I was delighted that he was still in it, and not held back for indecent exposure. I noticed, that morning at breakfast, when he sat on the floor in a cross-legged position, that he had a large crotch-rip in his pirate’s costume. But I didn’t have time before the 8:30 parade to get another, and was pleased that it wasn’t noticeable when he was standing up and walking. So I sent him to school. He was delightful to watch at the parade, and so excited that I attended. He had found the gaping hole, and spread his legs on the playground blacktop to show me, “Mommy, look!” I quickly shushed him, and went out to buy a new one that afternoon, for Halloween.

The levels on the cone had been lost, thanks to an inexperienced courier. So I left instructions for the group manager to call me when they were found, and proceeded with my day. After lunch, about 1:30, I went in to look at them. I was standing in the transcription area, and my partner Dianne saw me. She was handing out copies of paper to another partner. She said, “I am so glad you are here. Dr. Bell’s brother died this morning. These are the times of the visitation and the funeral.” Shock and grief penetrated my body. My eyes welled up, but I was in the middle of all the support staff, as well as Dr. Shaver and Dianne, so I suppressed the tears. Dianne looked at me and indicated wordlessly that I should follow her to her office.

I had already been privy to the first part of the story from Dr. Bell, and Dianne filled in the details of Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning. I decided that I had to attend something, but regretted that I had already promised to sail, for the group, in the sailboat race for Baptist on Saturday. I noted the Friday visitation, and resolved to get Mike to watch the kids so I could try to make it. I told this to Dianne – she was planning to attend the funeral on Saturday. Somehow I got the towns of Arkadelphia and Jonesboro confused in my head – I was thinking I could take a kid and spend the night Friday with my ophthalmologist friend in Jonesboro so I could be present. Further conversation with Dianne straightened out my error, and I felt stupid. I was so sad, I got muddled.

In my office, while I was looking at the levels, I remembered that Mike was on call Friday, and I had no one else to watch the kids. I felt dejected, and decided to send flowers instead. Dianne assured me that the group was sending flowers, but I wanted to do something myself. My own set of flowers, I guess. Dianne assured me that he would understand that I couldn’t make it for the visitation, and painted a quick, wonderful picture of his brother, from stories related to her over the years. I didn’t even know Rex had a brother. So I suppose it wouldn’t be too bad if I didn’t go. I was glad for Rex, at that moment, that he had the support of Dianne – a wonderfully empathic, crazy smart woman, who had been working with him for years, and a good friend. I had observed that much, in my time with the group.

Later, in my car, I thought of the little I knew of Rex. A wonderful wife. Incredible musical talent – the kind that made me loose and relaxed, more than the one glass of wine I had when I was listening. I sometimes wonder if the music makes him crawl into his head, and find clarity in complex issues. A great consultant, now that I am gaining the confidence to consult more than two or three people in the group. I thought that flowers weren’t the right thing to do; suddenly seeming too trivial. So I called Dianne and asked, “Does he have a favorite charity? I would much rather put money there, in memory of his brother.” She answered quickly, “The Humane Society. That’s were he asked me to donate, when he wouldn’t let me pay him for playing at my daughter’s wedding.” I resolved to do what she recommended.

I told her, “Dianne, I almost cried in front of the transcriptionists. This is terrible. I’m angry. This wasn’t supposed to happen.” She confessed, “I got choked up too. When I went into his office this morning, and he told me, I didn’t know what to do. I grabbed his knee awkwardly, trying to hug him. Jane says he is sleeping now, which is good. He needs it.” I looked at her and marveled once again, at her enormous capabilities of being a good doctor, lab director, mother, and friend.

After my visit to the chiropractor, I had thirty minutes to kill before I needed to pick up my daughter from her piano lesson. I spent it in the car. Listening to music. Thinking about my partner and his sudden, unexpected loss. Thinking about my own brother and his constant physical challenges from his health issues. Looking at the possibility of losing him, and scaring the hell out of myself. Staring at the trees, highlighted by the rare glimpse of the sun, this October. And I cried, silently. And prayed to a God I still am not sure exists, for healing. They say that music helps. I hope Rex can use his talent in this capacity.


rlbates said...

I don't think you should ever apologize for caring or crying over someone you care for. {{{hugs}}}

Gizabeth Shyder said...

Thanks Ramona!