Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve

Dear Friends

It's New Years Eve and I am sitting next to Ellen as she rests. The day has been quiet and finally, after another day of rain and gloom, the sun has been shining brightly through the living room window. It's been a long and difficult week so a little sunshine is much appreciated.
Ellen has continued to decline each day. She sleeps most of the time and drinks or eats very little. Her sister, Beth and I tend to her needs. A health care aide comes each day to bath her. Friends and family come and spend time next to her, holding her hand, speaking softly to her. She is treated with such tenderness and love, I know she must feel it in their touch. She is more wakeful in the mornings, more alert and during this time there are fleeting moments when I am sure she feels my presence. Her eyes rarely recognize me, but I know she is comforted by my voice and touch.
This process, transition from life to death, is painful to witness, but it is also a beautiful experience. I feel blessed she has allowed me to be a part of it, to allow me to care, comfort, and stay with her through these past weeks. I am amazed by her strength and comforted in turn by her peaceful acceptance of all that is happening to her body. She has taught me for so long how to truly live every moment and now she is teaching me how to let go. It is such a gift.

I have appreciated, so much, all of your support, kind words and prayers. Your simple messages have brought me comfort when I have needed them most. And I know, I believe, Ellen has heard you all.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Dear Friends

It's Christmas Day. I am sitting next to Ellen who is lies sleeping in a hospital bed placed in the center of our living room. We are alone and quiet while her sisters, who have been here almost constantly for over a week, attend Christmas mass.
Ellen's cat, Iggy, her companion of 14 years is curled up next to her. It is beautiful to see them find comfort in each other.
Ellen has continued to decline in a short period of time. She is confined to the bed, unable to move as the right side of her body becomes weaker. She eats and drinks in small amounts. She sleeps lengths of time induced by pain relieving morphine. She cannot communicate, but understands those who come to visit. Words are no longer neccesary as she speaks with her eyes and a sweet smile for those lucky enough to catch her awake.
I sleep next to her at night, here on the sofa. I wake up often, checking on her, caring for her, telling her how much she is loved. I know she hears me, but I know she is going deeper and deeper into a place which is hers alone. Yesterday I went to the Father Seelos shrine to pray. Not for healing anymore, now I pray for her freedom. It will be so hard to lose her, but I know she is getting ready to leave.

I am asking you all to continue sending your words of love. I know they comfort her heart when I read them to her and I find great comfort in them as well.

I know she hears you.
much love,

I know she hears you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20

Dear Friends

In the many times we have written in this blog, both Ellen and I have tried to keep the news positive, always looking forward with hope. This time, I can't give you such an optimistic spin. Ellen declined again this past week, not such a dramatic change, but she became physically weaker and more withdrawn. I hoped it was just a reaction to the chemo, but by the end of the week I had to accept it as tumor progression. After consulting with the Doctor, Ellen's sister and I made a decision to call Hospice. Since Ellen can barely verbalize needs and is now quite weak I was concerned about both her safety and taking proper care of her. Obviously, this was a very difficult choice to make, knowing where it now will lead.

This was a long, hard and painful week. I feel great sadness as I lose a little bit more of this amazing woman every day. She is so strong and full of grace I can't help but accept this is the journey she chooses to make. All I can do now is just love her and stay close.

And that is what I am asking you to do as well. She can understand the messages you send as I relay or read them to her and I know she finds comfort in your prayers. Please keep her close.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December mornings

Hello Friends

As usual, it's early morning. We've had several days of gloomy weather with rain and it's almost enough for me to wish we were still in sunny Florida. If it weren't for the occasional shrimp po-boy, we might have fled the city.

Ellen has up and down days, mostly due to the stages in the chemo treatment she took in late November. It affects the bone marrow and her ability to create new red blood cells so at this point her counts are low and she feels really tired. The good news is she is also feeling better some days. If the chemo wasn't having some effect on the tumors she would be declining rapidly. Hopefully, she will begin to have more energy in the coming week, so she can enjoy Christmas.

We have been enjoying a bit of the city, sometimes going to the levy by the river, sometimes a ride through the French Quarter or an ice-cream adventure. She loves trips to the Father Seelos Shrine which is part of a Catholic Church located in the Irish Channel. It's been comforting for her to spend time there in the chapel. On weekends, there's always a Saints game to watch, usually with good friends or family around her. All of it has made the effort of moving here worthwhile as I know she is finally happy and home.

I want to thank all of you again, for all your support and kind thoughts. Ellen has been so appreciative of all your gestures of love. She can't read your cards and can't talk on the phone very well, but she knows you are supporting her and is very much touched by all of it. Me too.
more later.

Friday, December 4, 2009

December Mornings

Hello All
It is early morning here. Ellen is asleep and I am, as usual, up and finding things to do.........
Ellen is stable, growing a little stronger physically, but still having difficulty with communication. It's frustrating for her as she can understand what others are saying to her, but cannot form the words to express herself. We have formed a whole new language with each other that includes a lot of sign language, nodding, and blank stares. Somehow, many times, we actually understand what the other is trying to communicate. Somehow, most of the time, we both end up laughing at how ridiculus we both are.
Since coming home, we have been enjoying the city, but mostly enjoying the frequent visits of friends and family. I think it's the highlight of Ellen's day for people to knock on the door and spend a few minutes chatting with her. To me, it's such a showering of love and it is exactly why I wanted to get her home to New Orleans. Some days are good and full of laughter and some days are hard, long and painful, but I know for her every one of them is precious and appreciated. She is really a strong and amazing woman.
I know some of you might be more comfortable with emailing as a response to this blog--you can connect with me at:
More later