Thursday, August 10, 2017

Grief, Anger and Horror

One year ago today, I was laying in the ICU fighting for my life.  I have said those words for the last 7 days, and I have 5 more to go before it is not true.  Twelve days of my life of which I have no or very little memory.  On Thursday, August 3, 2017, I was in an airplane on my way to St. Louis for Gun Sense University. Around 1:15 I got a sharp, take your breath away, pain in my abdomen.  I had to take pain killers and stand at the back of the plane for 10 minutes or so before it eased.  This was the exact moment 1 year ago my body went into septic shock. My body remembered the pain and let me know it remembered, even if I did not.

The weekend away took my mind off all things a year ago and I could only focus on what I was learning.  But now I am home and there is another part of my body letting me know it remembers - my heart.  I have been incredibly sad all week culminating is a cry-fest this morning.  I vacillate between anger and grief and horror.  Knowing that a year ago, I was laying in a bed with tubes and IVs and procedures being done to my body and being completely unaware...horrifies me. Knowing my kids and best friend and husband were keeping watch without knowing if I would live or die or come out right in my mind....grieves me. I feel a cloud over me this week.  It is dark and menacing.  I just want to climb in bed and cover my head.

This is me, a year ago:

Have no memory of this, but am kind of glad they took the photo. It is the only "proof" I have that I was actually there.

There is lots to celebrate.  There is lots to be proud of.  But for now, I need to feel all these feelings I am having and let them run their course.  So I will allow myself to continue vacillating between grief, anger and horror.  Because honestly, I don't know what else to do.

Last Post of 2016

Written on December 17, 2016...still real today.

This morning for some odd reason, I looked back over my facebook page.  On it I found so many people sending me their thoughts and love.  Some people I knew for a short time long ago, and yet, they took time out of their day to write to me.  I have found this profoundly moving.

Sometimes when birthdays pop up on my screen, I think will they really care if I say happy birthday? Do they really even remember me?  So I must confess over the last year, I have not written more than I have.  I am now sorry that I didn't write.  Now I realize that we just don't know what people are going through.  We don't know how much our taking the time to think about them, even for that minute,  will mean to them.  Usually that moment conjures up memories of that friend or loved one and we actually spend more time thinking about them that day.  Those moments matter.  You notice I did not say "the words" matter.  I said the "time".   The knowledge of you thinking of a person is really what they need.

I have spent this last half of 2016 on the sidelines, pretty much.  I have observed from my chair how busy everyone has been.  How tired everyone is.  How much hurt everyone is holding.  How much anger courses through everyone's bodies.  How much grief everyone is feeling.  How many of you are fighting for just causes. How much love you are all capable of having.  How much joy you bring others.

I want to acknowledge it all.  I want to express deep gratitude to each of you.  For those who have lost a loved one this year, I cry with you, I hold you in my heart, and I give you space to grieve.  For those who are also fighting daily to stay healthy and as well as possible, I am beside you, I vent with you, I cry with you, and I am a warrior with you.  For those fighting cancer or other life threatening diseases, I am angry with you, I cry with you, I laugh with you, I hold you in my heart.  For those experiencing big life changes this year, I sit beside you, I cheer you on, and I hold your hand.  For those of you who are just trying to parent children and teens and get them to adulthood, I scream with you, I curse with you, I shed tears of happiness with you, and I hold you tight.  For those who are lonely and longing for love, I cry with you, I ache with you, and I am here for you.  For those who just feel lost right now with adulthood looming ahead, I hurt with you, I pace with you, I scream with you, and I trust with you that something will come along.

2017 is my "Kick Ass" year.  I will fuel my body with what it needs to heal.  I will exercise my body to keep it strong.  I will be present in my life.   I will feed my soul by being in nature, reading books, journaling, and sewing/knitting.  I will fight for the causes that are dear to me. I will be available to listen to any of my friends who needs an ear.

Just as 2016 has been a mish-mash of life, so is the last blog post.  Happy New Year everyone!

Dear Death

Originally written on August 25, 2016.  But reliving today...

Dear Death,

You visited me at my birth and several times in my childhood.  Those stories don't really feel like my own.  They seem to be more a part of my mom's story since she is the one who experienced the trauma and struggles to keep me alive.  I guess that wasn't enough for you,  I guess all the struggles of my 51 years of life and 28 years of chronic illness was not enough.  Maybe you needed to be shown or told one more time,  I CHOOSE LIFE.

The day you visited, I have to admit, I was tempted.  Tempted to give in and float away without pain.  But then my husband's hand clasped mine and my eyes fluttered to see my babies sitting across from me. I didn't want to stop holding his hand.  I wanted to hold his hand for years and years to come.  I wanted to see the wrinkle and age spots on both our hands.  I wanted to hold his hand as we watched our children possibly wed and have babies.  I wanted to hold that hand sitting in the surf and watching the sun set over the Atlantic ocean.

My babies, I want to see them grow older into middle age.  I want to be witness to the joys and concerns that come with growing up.  I want to be at the end of the phone when the tears of joy and sorrow need to be shared with their mother. I do not want them to be mother-less.

I said NO to you that day.  I held onto the hand and the visions of my babies.  I held on.

So move on.  I wasn't ready at birth or in the coming 2-3 years and I am not ready now.  You see, I am meant to be here.  I have purpose.  I have been a true friend to many, many people, I have taught and loved hundreds of children and I have helped raised 2 amazing human beings who will also change this world each in their own way.  I have partnered with an amazing man and supported him in many different endeavors.  I am Nana to Malaney and friends with Max and Eleanor.  They need me.  I don't stop here.  I am fighting a fight that is NOT over.  I am fighting for a safer world for my children and their children and all the children whose lives I have come in contact with.  I must help to stop letting guns kill our people.  I have so much to give.

You see, I am not ready to go.  I know pain.  I can handle pain.  I have never known this weakness, but you see, Death, I still am gripping my husband's hand and we are walking through this together.  I am NOT alone.  So, move one.  It is not my time.

KaKi McKinney