Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jennifer McLaughlin McFetridge 1974-2007

Well we drove to Burlignton Mass. on Weds to see Jen. We arrived and she lay in bed hooked to a few IV's, looking very tired. I walked in and said "'re favorite brother is here!" She amazingly, lifted her arm weakly into the air and gave me a thumbs up. Short of that however, there was very little movement from her. It was very hard to see my once spunky little sister like this. The cancer in her head had returned after only three weeks of it being removed. A tumor in her neck/throat area had prevented her from swallowing. The tumor in her neck also prevented her from vomiting completely the illness brought on by radiation. The vomit she couldn't get out went into her lungs and she developed pneumonia. She refused to be aspirated or ventilated. I feel she knew she was at the end. She was sick of fighting. It is a brave decision. One I don't know I could make. She was so afraid of dying. Of leaving her baby. And afraid to leave our mom. She once said to my wife "what will Cassie and Mom do without me?"

She waved her hands weakly while we were there, drifting in and out of consciousness. She would hold our hands, squeezing them now and then. She would try to speak but was so very weak. We left her on Weds. and then we made the one and one half-hour trip the very next morning. We sat with her for hours. Her surgeon came in and apologized. He spoke quietly saying he really thought they had gotten everything and were amazed it had come back so viciously. He said it was his biggest surgery and things went so well....My mother cried and nodded. She knew he did what he could. Other people came into the room. A nurse, the physicians assistant, a social worker....we all cried. My mother made the decision to stop the antibiotics that were fighting the pneumonia. Pneumonia would be a much easier death.

We all kissed Jen goodbye, told her we loved her and she weakly told us "love you too" She never ended a visit or phone call without "love you guys"....

That night my aunt called and said they were having their weekly 'girls night' at Jen's room. My mom and her sisters and some of the cousins get together once a week for their 'girls night', and they asked my Mom to go. She balked, saying she was just there. I insisted, Maggie and I could, afterall, take care of the little one. She called the hospital and asked Jen's nurse if she thought she should come back. The nurse told her it might be a good idea. So she went.

At 5 am the next morning, Jen passed away. My wife heard my mom's cell phone ring and went to the kitchen and then came to our room, sobbing, "Jen's gone.."

It all seems like a real shitty dream that we can't wake up from. I wish it were. I still can't accept, or believe it. It seems unfair that somebody who was once so full of life had been taken away from us. Believe me. nobody was spunkier than my sister.
Mags and I went with Mom to the funeral home to make arrangements and tried to keep Mom occupied for the next two days until the wake.

The funeral home did a really nice job on Jen. Considering her face was swollen from the fluids and they cover the bruises on her arms where all the IV lines had been. They even did her hair nice. Jen was freaking out because she couldn't wash her hair. It had been weeks, because of her surgery, that she couldn't get her hair cleaned. This bugged her. Jen always took great pride in her appearance. She always looked good.

The night before the funeral I had about 2 hours sleep and Zombie walked through the day. It seemed so unreal. After the funeral we went to my cousin Shelly's home. She offered to host it because she didn't want my Mom to have to clean after this.

At 530 Monday night we said goodbye to Mom. We all cried and she thanked us for everything we did. Mag and I wish it could have been more.

My biggest problem is the constant fight in my head between logic and emotion. I didn't want Jen to die. I wished and wished and almost convinced myself she'd beat it. But the logical part of my brain told me she couldn't. The emotional part of me says I didn't do my job as a big brother, to do enough to help her. To protect her. Logic tells me there was nothing I could do.

She fought a long, courageous battle. Her PCP came to her wake and told me and Mom how impressed he impressed everyone was, with her spirit and determination.

I hope I can be as strong if I'm ever in that situation.

I am hoping that someday maybe she'll turn up on my doorstep and apologize, telling me she was working deep undercover for the CIA and they had to fake her death..I want her to say anything...I want her to come back so I can have my baby sister back and so my wife can have her friend back, so my Mom can have her little girl back and most importantly, so her daughter can have her Mommmy back....

No comments: