06 September 2012

When Terminal Illness Teaches You the Meaning of Hope~ Part 2

If you have not read part 1,
Begin Here

{I have so many emails in my in-box {after posting Part 2} about Phil, his treatment, his illness etc. that I will just answer all in a post instead of individually. Hope that is OK with everyone.}

Our girl took everything in stride.
At that moment, when Phil broke the news to her,
she just shut down.
No tears.
No Questions.
I am sure Yancey was thinking,
"Here I go again. Losing someone I love".

That night like a sullen teenager,
she shut herself in her room,
with ear-pounding music vibrating through 
my thin, old, house walls!

Phil and I began to wade through the mountain
of paperwork that he had been given.
{Even the paperwork to be included in a 
Federal Law Suit.
He had no desire to do this.}
The clinic visits for once a month,
and even having Hospice come to my home
so they would be prepared when the time came.

How was it that just 12 hours ago,
life had been normal?
Or at least normal in my little world.

~ ~ ~
The next night, we invited Phil's sister over.
After everything was explained, she said she would 
be the one to let the family know.
A huge relief off the shoulders of Phil.
A sister full of love and support.

Phil had several older brothers old enough to be his father.
They were all south Georgia preachers,
who felt snakes would cast out demons and
anyone not attending their church would surly go to Hell.

When told the news of Phil, they all agreed he must have done something so terrible in his life,
that God would render this horrid death sentence on him.

After hearing this from his sister, Phil made a conscience 
decision to distance himself from them.

On a Saturday afternoon,
it was Yancey who heard the cars pull in my driveway.
The Big City Girl who wore combat boots, 
sported tattoos and rode a motorcycle gave those
men a piece of her mind. 
All the while Phil stayed inside the house.
They left, never to return.

And after that, Phil and Yancey reconnected in their friendship.
Because friends stick up for one another.
Even when one will soon die.

It was now January, 1995.
Phil decided to make arrangements for himself.
He wanted to have his funeral at the local
funeral home in his hometown.
The one where he had poured the cement for the caskets
to be rolled down to the hearse.
You see his initials and the date he did that job
were forever inscribed in that cement.

When it came time to choose a casket,
he wanted something simple.
And simple was what he chose.
I tried to stay in the background,
but having someone only a few years older than yourself
ask your opinion is un-nerving.
He chose a simple ceremony.

And he asked that we have a party on his behalf,
a few weeks after his funeral.
I promised him that one.
No tears.
Just funny stories.

He made arrangements for his sister by
making sure his life insurance policy went to her.

And then we made a video.
Over three days, Yancey, Phil, and I
talked into the camera.
Some things were serious and sad.
Some hilarious.
And we made a decision as his time came closer,
and friends began to come say goodbye,
we would include that too!

On the way home from the funeral home,
we rescued a turtle!
Look at the smile on that man's face!

~ ~ ~
February 1995

 One night while sitting on the porch,
Yancey was brainstorming about going to the beach.
And then Phil piped up and admitted he had never see the ocean.
A trip was born!

Within a day, those two were packed and hit the road.
Oh, how I worried.
But it didn't matter.
Phil needed one last thing in his mortal life
to hold on to. 
And Yancey, Miss Free Spirit, was just the one 
to help him see all those things he had missed over the years!

They called the office at the barn each day to check in
 and each night I had phone calls full of tales and ruckus!
They drove all the way to Miami and then back up the west coast.
They were gone a month.
And when they returned, they were both tan, 
but Phil was gravely thin.
And ill.
And it was then he confided in me that we needed
Hospice to start coming for daily visits.

I cannot say enough about the Hospice care Phil began
 receiving in March of '95.
They treated all of us with dignity.

I let his friends know it was time to come say goodbye.
There was never a day that people in two's or three's
were not present in my home at any given time!

On his last doctor's visit, he was given three months.

That night as Yancey and I said goodnight to him,
Phil wished me a Happy Birthday!
For the next day was April 1.
{Yes, I am an April Fool's Baby!}
I couldn't believe he had remembered! 

Early the next morning, Phil passed away peacefully in his sleep.
On my birthday. 
Yancey and I sat with him for a good while before I called
the funeral home.
He just looked like he was sleeping and so very peaceful.

It was Yancey who ran barefoot, down the driveway
carrying his blue suit to the hearse as it was pulling out!
And I was sure, Phil was laughing over that one.
"Wouldn't want to be naked as jaybird in his casket",
she told the driver!

~ ~ ~

The Party for Phil!

In his last few months,the song below, became his mantra.
Freedom from illness.
Free to soar after his body was no more.

We played it over and over at his party
on April 16, 1995, which was Easter that year.

Do you see the Orbs? They appeared in every picture that was taken!

My house was packed with friends,
young and old.
Because Phil never met a stranger.

We did seating all through the house and the front porch.
It was beautiful!
The only family member who came was his
sister who helped raised him.

Orbs again coming from the mirror!

Hope is a funny thing.
Just when you think have run out,
it climbs back inside you and gives you the 
gumption you need.
So many friends of Phil's would tell me,
if that had been their diagnoses..
well, they would have just ended it.
But, Hope is the one thing that keeps us going.
A promise of another year,
a month,
a week,
even just a day.
It's all you really need.

Between 1995 and 2000,
when I lost Phil and Yancey,
I lost a big part of me.
Maybe an innocence that I thought
 life never changes.

My birthday has never been the same.
Not really in a bad way.
For I choose to celebrate my birth
and Phil's leaving all wrapped together.
He was ready and he left with utter dignity.
And when I see a small plane fly over-head,
I just know Yancey is flying along side it. 

I cannot imagine what it was like when those two 
were reunited in Heaven, can you?!

*Phil's brother's sued the hospital that he contracted HIV from.
They won millions.

The Soup Dragons
Love God Album 

Don't be afraid of your freedom
I'm free to do what I want any old time
I said I'm free to do what I want any old time

I say love me, hold me
Love me, hold me
'Cause I'm free to do what I want any old time
And I'm free to be who I choose any old time

I say love me, hold me
Love me, hold me
'Cause I'm free to do what I want
To be what I want any old time
And I'm free to be who I choose

I say love me (love me forever)
Hold me (and love will never die)
Love me, hold me
'Cause I'm free

Do you hear what I say
These are the words me hear from my grandaddy, come on
These are the words me hear from my grandaddy
Who say nothing in this world like when a man know he free
Free from the lackadaisical 
Free from the death 
Free like a butterfly
Free like a bee
These are the words me hear from my grandaddy
Said it's nice to be free, nice to be free
Free from the lackadaisical 
Free from the death 
Don't be afraid of your freedom

'Cause I'm free to do what I want any old time 
I'm a new creation
'Cause I'm free to do what I want any old time
 Don't be afraid of your freedom
'Cause I'm free to do what I want
To be what I want any old time
I said I'm free to be who I choose

[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/s/soup_dragons/im_free.html ]


TexWisGirl said...

you formed a special family with these two.

the last blurb about the brothers is disgraceful.

Kayla @ TheEclecticElement said...

I truly believe that people come in and out of your life for a reason, and those two must have really graced your life for the better Misha!

They both sound like two beautiful and wonderful souls and you're a better person for knowing them :)

Life is definitely difficult at times, but that's when you just have to realize that things happen for a reason and you just have to be thankful for what you're given!

Marilyn said...

I know the spirit of Phil was in the room when you were celebrating because the camera can see things we can't. Again, thanks for sharing. Precious memories shared means that the grief is diminished.♥♫

Deb said...

Hugs to you(( )) You have had some special people in your life and they had a special person in their lives as well. I just can't find the right words to comment.

Beautifully written.

Donna said...

You are a special person but we already knew that :)
Phil and Yancey were so fortunate to have you in their lives. I am sure they are rejoicing in Heaven together!

Grandma Barb's This and That said...

Beautifully written. You made such a difference in their lives. You are all better people for knowing each other. Someday you will be reunited with them in Heaven.

Gaelyn said...

This is such a sad yet fulfilling story of life. I'll bet Phil and Yancey are kicking up their heals in heaven. Bless you for being there for them both and sharing their story.

Jeanette said...

That was a beautiful story, Misha! thank you for sharing it with us. You were all blessed to have eachother!

Donna said...

Such joy you found with two special people! They surely both earned their wings. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of love, hope, and enduring friendship.

Denise at Autumn Sky said...

There is always so much love in your words when you write about special people in your heart.

Rural Revival said...

Of course you should celebrate on April 1st...your birthday...because I have no doubt they are celebrating too and always, always watching over you.

Thank you for sharing this with all of us. You, my dear, are the most beautiful person I have ever met. Lucky me.


Melinda said...

A beautiful story. It is so tough to lose those we love.
As we get older it doesn't hurt less--I think it hurts more.
But God placed thes people in your life to bring you joy and I know YOU gave them the same thing.

Blessings for Yancey and Phil.

M :)

Mary Ann said...

Misha, thank you.

Karen said...

How could they turn on their brother in such a horrible way, and then profit from his tragedy?

..and a better note, what a beautiful family you formed, the home you gave them, Misha. Amazing story.

Cindy said...

You, are an angel. You took in two heart broken people and gave them a chance at love and laughter.
May you be forever blessed..
I have enjoyed reading your story of Yancey and Phil. Especially today, 9/11. The world needs more people like you...