She has been struggling with her cancer for the past two years with various degrees of success but, ultimately the cancer spread and took her light. She went into the hospital two weeks ago in a good deal of pain and nausea. They tried to stem the pain and give her some comfort, but the cancer had spread to the point it that not much could be done. The past few days were hard on everyone. She had been slowly declining since the weekend and things did not look promising. Along with my wife and I, several of Julie’s friends took turns staying with her at the hospital so she had someone with her. Our son drove down Friday afternoon to see her as well. We went up to the hospital Saturday to sit with her and her friend, not really sure how much time she had. She passed away quietly around 3:00 pm with my wife by her side.
This has been long in coming. Julie was nephrologist (kidney doctor) and knew the score. Ever since she was diagnosed 2+ years ago, she was pessimistic about her chances but chose to fight it regardless. Despite all of the obstacles thrown her way, she kept fighting it. Several months back, she and her oncologist decided the chemo wasn't doing anything but making her sick and stopped the treatments. Afterwards, she seemed resigned to her fate. My wife stayed with her throughout the entire process. Staying at home with her, the multiple trips to the hospital/ER, taking care of her treatments. She set aside a lot of things to be at her sister's side, providing some comfort. I'll have to admit, it wasn't easy, I am not sure I would have had the stamina to do it.
To provide some minor respite, we tried to get her out of the house for a day just to break the routine, even if for a short while. She loved spending Saturday afternoons over at my brother's garage (GRAJ). Between talking on cars, family, dogs and eating something from the grill, it was something that enabled all of us to forget about life for a while. My wife would bring her over to our house every other day as another break. Julie loved walking the dogs with me when I got home, even if it was 98 degrees outside. She looked forward to it, it gave her some relief from the pain, and the dogs certainly didn't object. We spend a lot of time discussing her status while walking the dogs. We covered a lot of topics, ideas, questions. I broached the subject of her final wishes. With her mother's passing earlier this year, she decided to be cremated but did not want to be buried back at the family plot in Arkansas. Instead, she wanted to remain with us, although, we haven't determined where we will wind up. I told her that I wanted to be cremated as well but, in lieu of a burial, I wanted my ashes spread over Kyle Field. Fat chances of that happening - something about some sort of regulations against that. I was not trying to be morbid on these discussions and she felt some relief to unload on me as it was hard to discuss these issues with my wife. We also talked/debated about a memorial service. She did not really want one because she didn't want to burden everyone and didn't want people to feel sorry for her but I kinda convinced her that her family and friends might want to have one, if for anything to remember and honor her life - sort of a sense of closure for everyone. We have yet to figure out any details (still too painful to consider), but we have debated using the local church near the medical center. That way a lot of her coworkers and friends could attend.
Right now, things are moving slowly. Understandably, momma is exhausted. I am taking off this week to help settle her affairs, play chauffeur, clean out litter boxes and serve as a general roustabout.