Greys Anatomy – A Trainwreck For My Soul

I watch Greys Anatomy every Thursday night with four friends and a glass of wine.  We have done this for several seasons now, and I look forward to it every week.  But lately … lately I find that watching Greys Anatomy feels similar to watching a train wreck.  It hurts my soul but I can’t look away.  Every single week the show seems to focus on cancer diagnosis’ or cancer deaths.  It’s like a drum pounding in my head over and over.  I walk into the evening excited for the chatter and wine, and within about five minutes of the show starting all I can think is, “Again?”

And so for the last few days I have asked myself this question … are these weekly dates with my girls feeding my soul, or are they robbing me of any semblance of peace?

The most recent episode involved a pregnant woman who was dying of … wait for it …. cancer.   (Surprise!) She refused treatment in order to save her baby.  How noble of her. Blah blah blah. Before she went into surgery she secretly told the doctors she wanted to sign her own DNR.  She did not want them to take extraordinary measures to keep her alive if something went wrong.  Well, something went wrong as it usually does, and I’m sure you can figure out what happened in the end.

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As I was watching that episode it made me think about this … I signed the DNR.  I signed that DNR.  I signed it while I sat right beside Ben in the hospital.  A doctor finally had the kahunas to broach the subject with Ben, and Ben promptly shut him down hard and fast.  “Talk to Wendy about that” he said. “She’ll know.”  I remember that he used tone with the doctor.  Angry tone.

“She’ll know.”

Well apparently, in fact, I did know.  Or at least I thought I knew at the time, because I signed it.  Ben apparently did not know so I made that decision for him.  That shitty, crappy, assholish decision that I never imagined I would actually have to make in my lifetime.   I signed that DNR, tucked it into the green plastic envelope they give you with a magnet on the back and slapped it onto our fridge for all to see. (That’s what you do with it, you know.  I’m told that EHS attendants always look on the fridge for that green envelope.  A quarter century in emergency services and I never knew that DNRs are kept in green envelopes on the fridge.  Now you know too.)  I signed that DNR.  I stuck it on the fridge and it sat there right through the Christmas holidays while everyone from both families were here “celebrating” the season, and I think I was the only one who knew it was there.  (It’s possible I could be wrong about that … there is a lot I don’t remember so maybe my sisters did know.)  But what I do indeed remember is that I signed the fucking DNR.  It was the right thing to do, and it kind of haunts me.

Not only did I sign the DNR and stick it on the fridge, but I also chose a funeral hall and signed some forms about body removal at a time when Ben was still chatting people up and taking visitors.  Everyone around him was planning for Ben’s death except Ben.  He wanted to live.  He trusted me with his life and death decisions.

I signed the DNR.  It somehow seems so businesslike … so wrong, so completely casual in hindsight.  “Sign this receipt, please.”  “Sign for the package, please.”  “Sign your husband’s DNR, please.”  Funny how it didn’t seem so wrong at the time.  At the time it seemed important to plan, to prepare, and to save Ben from the agony of possibly being brought back to life only to surely die soon after.  Now it just seems surreal, and even though it was the right thing to do, I don’t really know how I managed to do it.

I had a landscaping complication this week with the neighbour, and when I brought her flowers the next day to try to calm her ruffled feathers she went on and on and on about how she had had a bad day.  That was her reason for her bad behaviour … everything had gone wrong for her.  And I smiled and handed her the flowers and mumbled, “Oh, I’m sorry your day was so tough” while I thought about how I wanted to tell her that I wish that I could have her bad days.  I also wanted to beat her a little bit but I refrained.

(On a side note, I tend to have regular Ally McBeal moments where I envision doing exactly what I want to do when people say things that I consider absolute wastes of time and breath.  It makes me feel better to fantasize.  I try to put smile therapy into practice.)

I spent some time with Ben these last few days and I was surprised to find that someone else had been visiting him too.  They left flowers. I love that.

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The bottom bunch is from someone else who must have loved him.  Can’t say as I blame them.  He was easy to love.

I asked the question earlier about whether these weekly Greys Anatomy dates are feeding my soul (the friendships) or sucking it dry (the storyline of the show).  The truth is that I could probably do without the constant cancer reminders, but then again those reminders are everywhere, every day.  I don’t need Greys Anatomy to remind me that Ben died.

On the plus side I also get at least an hour of chat before the show and I’m always guaranteed a laugh as we recount what we read on the local community Facebook page throughout the week.  (Those of you who live in this area will understand what I mean.) Those hours are worth more to me.  I couldn’t have gotten part way through this mess of Ben’s life and death without them.

Anyway, who am I kidding?  I couldn’t stop watching the 37th season of Greys Anatomy even if I was kicked out of the club.  (I don’t think they can kick me out.  I’m the original founder.)

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48 Years Young

First … let me just say that today is March 13th.  NOT the 14th as this blog seems to show and I can’t seem to fix it. It’s important to me because Ben’s birthday is the 13th.

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Happy birthday to Ben.  One more birthday where we celebrate Ben’s life even though he isn’t here with us, but boy does he deserve to be celebrated anyway.  I hope he knows we celebrate.  I hope he reads these posts.  I hope he sees us, because otherwise it would just be my imagination that tells me that I often feel him near me, and I would not want that to be true.

This birthday celebration looked a little different than the last, because this girl (on the right) flew off to New Zealand and couldn’t be here with us today.  Here she is sitting somewhere on the other side of the world:

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I know she is secretly laughing at me because she is wearing a cute little romper and we are stuck between this…

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… and this …

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Still, before Jaime left on her travels we gathered at the Keg (not Ben’s favourite restaurant) for steak (Ben’s favourite food).   I was lazy this year and didn’t feel like cooking myself.  The poor young waiter asked if we were celebrating anything, and without thinking it through I said “Yes.  A birthday.” So he looked around the table and asked who’s birthday it was, which was awkward, so I said that the birthday boy wasn’t there yet. Then he asked if an extra person was coming (since all chairs were filled) and so I said the birthday boy wouldn’t be coming at all.  He looked thoroughly confused and gave me a strange look, but he left well enough alone.

After dinner we ordered Ben’s birthday cake and Makeda wanted to blow out the candle. The waiter put the cake in front of Makeda and stood by while we sang “Happy birthday dear Ben / Dad / Uncle Ben” and he watched her blow out the candle.  He then proceeded to comp the dessert because he assumed it was the birthday of a little-girl-named-Ben-who-wasn’t-coming-and-then-did.  It wasn’t worth explaining, so I tipped him well for his trouble.

Halfway through dinner a family was seated next to us and I heard “Wendy?”  I looked over and there was an old coworker of Ben’s.  Funny how those things happen.

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And speaking of funny / odd things that happen, there was also this one.  A few weeks back I was feeling a bit low and thinking of Ben while the house was quiet and I didn’t feel like doing much.  I came into my (home) office which, if you haven’t seen it, holds typical office stuff.  A desk, a bookcase, a computer, a printer and a filing cabinet.  That’s about it. Just normal office things made out of wood.  So I sat down at my desk feeling a little morose and I felt something brush my hand.  I looked down and saw this:

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A small white feather.  No idea where it came from.  In fact, there literally was nowhere for it to have come from.  It was the strangest thing.  I’ll take it as a little message from Ben who is (hopefully) often hovering about.  It certainly feels like he is, anyway.  (If he really wants to give me a strong message that he’s hanging around he should work on ensuring that we win the Children’s Hospital Lottery house.  Then not only would I be a believer but I’m pretty sure everyone else who knows me would be too!)  And by the way … don’t bother critiquing my nails in that picture.  I have since remedied that situation.

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Today being Ben’s real birthday … the official “number 48” that Ben never got to see … the local Saint-Onge’s did this …

… followed by this …

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(dinner at Ben’s favourite Thai place) while Miss Jaime did this on the other side of the world …

(The ball on the right is a zorb.  She climbed in it with a go-pro and rolled down the hill.  I can’t wait to see that video.)

Jaime is not the only one travelling though … Raegan and I are (technically) supposed to be flying to NY on Wednesday.  Unfortunately there is apparently a big storm rolling in and all flights have now been cancelled, so we have put an alternate plan together that will hopefully work out.  Fingers crossed.  It is going to cost me an overnight in Toronto and an extra night of hotel in NY which, I have discovered, is not cheap when one books last minute on spring break.  Four hundred and eighty four dollars, in fact.  For one night.  It’s also costing us our aisle seats together on the flight home and sticking us both in middle seats in different rows.  Blech.  But I remind myself that Ben would give pretty much anything to be joining us no matter what the circumstance, and so we will just go with the flow and hope that we land there safely and in time for our Broadway play.

With that, I’ll bid you adieu.  I’ve had a busy day and honestly I just want some time to sit quietly and think about Ben.  I like to let a little bit of that pain in every once in awhile in the hopes that it won’t hurt so much when I think about it in the future.  I did have a bit of that hurt this morning when I “spoke” with an old friend for the first time in 17 years via FB.  He said he hoped that the kids and Ben were well and I, for the first time ever, had to tell him that Ben has died.  Everyone else has just heard it through the RCMP grapevine and I have never had to break that news before.  It hurt a lot.

Happy Birthday Ben.  We love you.  We miss you.  We hope that we make you proud.  We hope you are near.  And we hope you help us win that lottery I mentioned earlier.  But most of all I hope that somehow you know that you are not forgotten and that we honour your memory on days like today.