Today we feature a heartfelt tribute form Andrea (Andy) Van Scoyoc. Death is not something we want to think about at Christmas but the holidays have an inordinate amount of death associated with them. It is a documented fact that terminal patients will either die just before a holiday or hang on for the holiday. So, we believe it is appropriate to face life and death with dignity.
Thank you for reading and joining us in celebration of lives lived.
…But Someone Has To Die On Christmas Day…
My brother-in-law was recently, within the past six months, diagnosed with cancer.
It came on fast and his demise was cruel.
I remember seeing him in the hospital. He was pale and weak, but looked like his usual self.
He seemed to bounce back and life went on, for a while.
Chats with my husband, everyday life…and then all of a sudden, he got sick again.
Chemo, radiation, blood transfusions…but life still went on.
About a month before Thanksgiving of this year…2019, he called (having seen my husband’s car at the hospital – my husband is a heart patient and has regular appointments with a cardiologist) and asked us to stop by his house to see him and his wife.
We gladly did and though, again, pale and weak, he was the same man I’ve known for the 25 years I’ve been married to his younger brother.
We had a nice visit and looked forward to Thanksgiving.
Fast forward, Thanksgiving day. We were shocked to see my brother-in-law in a wheelchair, too weak to stand and wearing an eye patch after having a stroke and losing the use of his eye.
He kept falling asleep during our gathering.
Fast forward, exactly four days ago.
We got a call. He was in Hospice. We went and again, were shocked seeing this once, vibrant man who…at 72…got around better and worked harder than most 30 year olds, hooked up to IVs, flailing and “jumping” from the morphine, which as one of my sisters-in-law said (she’s a nurse) makes you feel like you’re falling and so you constantly grab at something, anything, to keep from “falling.”
No one would say it aloud, but we were all thinking it…please don’t die on Christmas day.
A day later, he was off the morphine and a little more lucid. He was still in and out of it, but he managed to grin when I apologized for making him about jump out of his skin, when I touched him with a cold hand.
But he was in a rapid decline, almost unintelligible, glassy eyed and pale.
This time some of us were saying it aloud…please don’t die on Christmas day.
The next day passed uneventfully and then we got the call… yesterday…we needed to come because the end was near…he was unresponsive.
I wasn’t prepared for what I saw; this decrepit, 90 year old looking man, eyes distant and vacant, very loud death rattle in his chest, crying out as if trying to communicate and struggling for every breath.
I’m an admitted ghoul and watch some sick and disturbing things on those “real death” sites… (drug cartels beheading, dismembering alive or skinning alive, rivals, enemies, etc. But what can you say? You hang with bad and dangerous people, you get what you get if you piss off the wrong person. That’s life for those kinds…) but… nothing can prepare you for seeing a person utterly suffering in real life… especially if the person hasn’t put themselves in harm’s way, or brought it on themselves.
I watched…and hoped that with each labored breath, it would be his last.
It wasn’t. He tenaciously clung to this life as if he had everything to live for.
But he didn’t. The cancer was literally eating him alive.
I don’t understand how it’s, “humane” to put to sleep terminally sick and suffering animals, always touting that it’s cruel to keep them alive…but it’s okay to watch a human go through such traumatic literal Hell on Earth.
Someone got their wires crossed. Anyone who thinks it’s okay to watch humans suffer from an incurable disease, with no quality of life, needs to spend some time in Hospice, watching patients waste away and die.
It’s horrific. The change in my brother-in-law in just ONE MONTH’S time, was almost unbelievable. If I hadn’t seen it, myself, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.
My husband had taken all he could and we left at around 7 PM, knowing the inevitable would soon come.
We got the call, this morning, Friday, December 20 at around 8 AM.
My brother-in-law had finally, peacefully, after such a short, but hard fought battle…passed away to a better place.
That’s what he believed, so I hope where he went is all he imagined.
No, he didn’t die on Christmas day. But someone has to die on Christmas day, and for that family…if they have to endure what we did…I am already heart sick.