Note: for daily updates on Stella, remember to check the forum:
Stella’s Last Stand
Stella is still alive. She is clinging to life just as she always has, not content to go gently and lightly into the next world. Over a week ago the Doctors and Nurses told us we had anywhere from hours to “a couple of days” with our girl. We were told that the longest they had every seen anyone go with no food or water was 11 days. Aimee and I joked that just because they had said that, Stella would go longer. And she seems up for the challenge. Today is day 11 for Stella and though she is surely dying, her heart continues to beat strongly and her breathing remains slow and steady. We have been told that every breath could be Stella’s last, but that no one really knows how much longer she will hang on.
Aimee and I consider this to be Stella’s last stand. Stella’s last F-U to anyone daring to tell her what she should do and how. She has everyone on edge, circling her, watching and waiting for her next move. She is in total control and we have no choice but to sit and wait.
So…what do you do when you’re waiting for your daughter to take her last breath? If you’re us you do all kinds of things, from the mundane to the meaningful.
You open up the door everyday to find a wonderful meal that some neighbor, friend or family member has provided that nourishes both your body and your soul.
You go to the tacky salon around the corner that has a gold frame light up Jesus 3-D picture that is not tongue-in-cheek, and ask the ladies there to paint your toenails the most vibrant shade of green they have, in honour of your daughter.
You pick out the outfit you’d like your daughter to be cremated in and gently fold it in your cupboard until you need it. You and your spouse ask each other, “should we do the Dora pants, or the leggings? Green you are my sunshine shirt, or pink smile, dance, love shirt?”
You ask Rev. Sarah from your Church to come over and do a beautiful little blessing for Stella. Your family is somewhat torn between what they believe, but… “just in case”…you want to make sure Stella is covered.
You send your sister to Value Village and have her bring back white sheets that you rip into strips and decorate to wrap around Stella as “hugs”, so she won’t be alone in her casket.
You read every single comment on your blog and forums. Some make you laugh, some make you cry, all make you think about what a powerful presence your little girl has been.
You sit around the living room until late at night and watch the TV show “Impractical Jokers” on DVD, and howl with soul-cleansing laughter at the antics of four friends trying to out-embarrass one another.
You get six cupcakes from a local bakery, and on October 18th you celebrate Stella’s 3 ½ year birthday with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” sung on the King Size bed where Stella sleeps.
You take turns 24/7 sitting with Stella as she lay sleeping in bed. You read her stories, sing her favourite songs, stroke her hair and are joined by various people throughout the day, all of them lounging on your bed.
You gently dab your daughter’s eyes to get the crusties out, wipe her mouth and apply Vaseline to her lips. You change her diaper, give her extra doses of morphine from the pump in her thigh and pray to whatever God is out there that she feels nothing.
You watch her chest rise and fall, holding your own breath as you stare at her ribcage wondering if it will move again.
You carefully paint her fingernails green and her toenails purple so that she looks her best.
You ask your self and each other, “how can this be happening?” but there is no answer, so only silence follows.
You look out the window once in awhile but are afraid to leave the house. The sun shines, it rains, frost appears on the window of your car, a rainbow stretches over the city, the moon comes out. But you never really know what day it is, or what time it is because you live 90% of the time in a dark bedroom lit only by two flickering candles in the corner.
You answer a dozen text messages everyday from your friends asking, “How is she? How are you?”
You carefully and gently drag the baby bath into your bed and wash your daughter’s hair so the curls spring to life…just so you can carefully select some to cut off and place them in a dusty old box by the bed.
You celebrate Stella’s brother Sam’s first birthday by inviting your whole family over for pasta and then letting him sit on the bed next where his sister lay dying , and blow out his birthday candles.
You bite the inside of your lip to keep from crying when you see how cancer has destroyed your child’s body, turning her into a pale, sunken eyed, translucent waif who is so thin you can see her heart beating steadily in her chest with you naked eye.
You forget to shower, forget to eat, forget to check your phone for messages.
You cuddle with Gracie in the bed next to Stella and watch Disney movies on the laptop, while Gracie continues to “play” with her sleeping cousin, inventing what she thinks Stella would do or say, decorating her still body with toys, bringing her gifts like rocks and flowers that she proudly displays on the pillow next to where Stella lays.
You whisper “I love you” in Stella’s ear 100 times a day.
You allow your heart to break over and over again, and just sit with the pain because there is nothing else you can do.
You laugh, cry, remember .
as she dies.
Aimee and I wash Stella’s hair
Poppa and our boys:
Poppa and Auntie Heather snuggle Stella:
Naptime for Hugo and Stella:
Happy Birthday Sam!