I've finally figured out that Justin is literally taking this whole experience day by day.
Today we were driving back to San Diego from LA and discussing memorial services. What are their purpose? Who are they for? What do they do? "I don't know, I'm not a big funeral guy," he said.
I looked at him and laughed--I don't think funerals are exactly something people groove on (except for maybe morticians and people in the casket building business, and maybe those people who are paid to grieve so that the service looks well attended (was that just during the old days? in some other culture?)).
"OK. Maybe you're just not ready to talk about memorial services yet."
"Yeah, maybe not."
"I get that you're taking this day by day, but it's making it really hard for me to plan my week. "
While I've canceled all my weekend shifts of hostessing and modeling, I kept the weekday shifts. I think Justin thought his mom would hang out and wait until Friday to get this ball rolling. Also, medical school is easier to miss on the weekends when you're just on call, rather than on weekdays when there are also seminars and journal clubs and stuff.
So today, when we went up to LA to meet with the family in the home to finalize the agreement to start hospice care and to move Toni home (by ambulance) Justin had this wacky idea that we'd be leaving LA by 3 p.m. He was going to meet with them, go visit Toni and then be home in time for some evening meeting he had scheduled. Needless to say, before the meeting was even over while I watched everyone suffer in their own style I hatched our plan to stay with the family for as long as possible. In my head, I found a way for him to cancel almost everything.
And then he did. And I did. And we drove back down to San Diego so that we can pack some clothes, finish up some business and head back up for the duration... or almost two weeks or something like that.
Meanwhile, Justin is trying to plan Jason's bachelor party, during which time I plan to chill with Oakley. In our continuing gallows humor (and in an action that Pastor Brian, whom I just spoke with, called healthy), Justin and I tried to plan the most convenient day for Toni to die. If it's before Saturday then he maybe can't go to/host (I think he's the best man) the party, though Toni would probably want him to. But if it is ON Saturday that would suck. But if it's Sunday then it would be better, except maybe he'd be stressed on Saturday and hungover on Sunday.... These are the problems of my little life.
Of course we realize we can't plan this.
I just hope that it's not... hell, I don't know what I hope. Mark bought four hospital gowns ("they'll be arriving any day now") for her to wear. That way she can have a fresh one every day. He hoped she could have a proper shower/bath at the SNF before being transferred, but they couldn't do it because she's not physically stable enough to balance.... Dorothy doesn't want anyone to cook in the house while Toni is there because Toni loved food so much (eating and cooking) that it wouldn't be fair that she can't eat even though she would be able to smell it cooking. She doesn't even want to brew coffee because Toni loves coffee--asked for it every day... Laura went to the store to buy the diapers; earlier this week they didn't have Toni's small/medium size, they just had the large ones.
I guess now all we hope for is that we make it back up in time. Justin reminded me to bring my camera--something he was unsure of me doing before. "I'd just like to get a picture of that smile one more time," he said. I hope I can catch them looking at each other the way they do. I wish I had remembered it today; when she got home, even though she had to ride in the ambulance, she was so happy to be there she just kept smiling and smiling and nodding her head and even spoke loudly enough that we could hear her no matter where we were standing in the room. Of course, then she was exhausted and slept for the rest of the evening even though we were talking and eating (secretly) in front of her. She even looks more peaceful in her sleep now that she's home. In the Nursing Facility everyone looked like they were constantly suffering. It was like a jail for the infirm. Purgatory on earth.
I've been trying to remember what literature gave us the idea of there being seven (or more?) levels of hell. I keep feeling like we're on one of them.
Birth and death. It's strange how these are the only two things every human has to experience personally as well as from the perspective of an observer, and still we're so incredibly bad at handling both occasions.
Anyone figured out rule #1 yet?
And a quick word on crematoriums: The social worker gave us a short list of several companies in the area with their prices as estimated by telephone for them. They cost beginning around $500 and go up into the almost $2000 range. What's the difference?
More car conversation/gallows humor:
"Do you get fewer bone fragments from some of them? Maybe they put you in a vase at one of them. Vase? What are they called?"
Giggle... "Vase... and then you could stick some flowers in there. Pen flowers. That's what we could do with you! And people could just pull pens out of you, because you're a writer!"
"They have those!"
"Not exactly that, but they're in that article in the magazine, about funeria art. And you can do all sorts of things--like have several little urns made so that the ashes can be split between family members, or one is like a cigar and is also a cigar holder..."
"We are not doing that."
"I know. I'm just telling you about it. I don't know why the prices are so different though; Maybe at the cheaper ones they use a Ziploc baggie? Or some use generic plastic bags and some use Tupperware?"