Yesterday morning as I tapped the post button, we got the call. They took off her oxygen and we were able to sit with her for 15 minutes until she left.
Her journey is over.
I took the first flight out of Nashville with my sister yesterday. We took a plane, taxi, bus, and train to get to where we needed to be but we’re here.
Today was emotionally draining. My dad has ever only cried in front of us once when his mom passed and today was hard. There were difficult decisions that had to be made and none of us wanted to accept her one wish.
My dad partook in prayer two times today and he also held my hand.
We called Dina. Dina just happens to always be with us when someone in our family passes. Like she’s heaven’s welcoming committee. So she met us in the cafeteria. She’s gathering the lions. DeLeons will be flooding the halls tomorrow to say their last goodbyes and I sit here knowing very well tomorrow night I won’t have a mom.
I’m broken and it hasn’t even happened yet.
I’ve been reluctant to share photos of my mom because I know she wouldn’t approve. I’ve been reluctant to tell people what she’s sick with because I know how private she is. This photo was taken the day before things started back pedaling. I miss her and I just want to sit and watch Breaking Bad with her all day.
I’m flying home on Friday. I have to decide if I’m going to pack a black dress and heels. If I pack them, I’m choosing to accept the possibility of having to wear them during my visit if so the visit ends in a funeral.
Having the idea of my mom passing away presented to me has made this the toughest trip imaginable.
I don’t know if it’s acceptable to be mad at God but I am. He already took away two of my best friends and he can’t take away her. I won’t allow it.
I don’t want to think about the possibility of knowing my husband won’t have ever met her. Or my children. Who am I going to call when I have questions about pregnancy? Who’s going to make sure I paid my car insurance? I’m still grieving over Lee, and Chorizo, and I can’t bear to add another name to that list.
From what I understand, she’s given up. She’s accepted the idea. How could this happen? Why has this happened?
Good news is not abundant these days and I’m not ok.
I knew she was going to be transferred. I spent the night in the hospital so I could follow in my car. Any minute now they said. As I slept awkwardly in a hard reclining chair, nurses kept coming in and out of the room. They finally turned on the lights. They talked back and forth and a phone call was made to the overnight doctor. They asked if I could leave the room. They needed to stick an oxygen tube down her throat to stabalize her breathing. They were going to do it anyway before the transfer so it was no big deal.
It was 4 am. I walked out into the lobby to get coffee from a vending machine. While I was there I also got a banana nut muffin. The hospital was empty. I thought about that first scene in the Walking Dead and then hurried back up to the 4th floor waiting area. I fell asleep on the floor while the Disney Channel played on the tv. The nurse came to call me in. She was in a different room now. It was cramped. So I sat in a corner and tried to sleep. Stanford is quite a drive from the Central Valley so I knew I should probably sleep as much as I could. Maria was her nurse when I came in. They had a shift change. I like Maria. She explains everything thoroughly. And she calls my mom sweet pea. I dozed off again. I woke up 30 minutes later and she told me my mom’s heart rate was a bit off.
She was reaching for the medication settings on the iv. I heard an alarm go off. Maria yelled something then cupped her hands and started pumping my mom’s chest. I was still half awake but within two seconds people flooded in and I was told to exit the room. The intercom came on. “code blue, acequia wing, floor 4, code blue, acequia wing, floor 4”. A nurse came and grabbed me and turned me around. She asked an aide to get the social worker and a chaplain. Dr. Mali yelled, “What happened!” My mom’s heart had stopped. Her heart had stopped. The social worker started asking me questions I couldn’t concentrate on. I was crying. everyone was looking at her. The chaplain placed his arm on my back. “How are you related to the patient?” “mo, mom, shes me mom.”
I walked into the hallway and tried to call my dad. No answer. I then called my siblings, Sara, no answer. So I told Saul and Sam what was happening. I expected for my dad or Sam to show up at the hospital to be with me, but they didn’t.
I walked out into the hallway and saw two refreshingly familiar faces. My aunt and cousin. I was just so happy someone was there and it didn’t matter who. My aunt had told me she had seen my dad a few days prior. He had been drunk buying groceries. That sounds right. It’s not like it’s a secret. It’s just something we’ve all learned to deal with by now.
I’ve been in California for 2 and a half weeks now. Most every day has been spent at the hospital. From the second I arrived, I started cleaning the house. I don’t know why, I just felt dirty. I fixed up the bathroom and broke a shower handle in the process. My dad didn’t want to help me fix it. I cried. Then paid for a plumber to come out. He was a part time worship pastor from Reedley coincidently and so he prayed with me. For my mom. Why do they keep showing up like that? Pastors, am I right.
My mom has something called Wegeners disease. At first we thought her kidneys were failing. They were. Google Wegeners, I’m too tired to explain it in full. Basically, your body doesn’t recognized your kidneys or heart as being your own so it attacks them. Your body tries to kill itself. Brutal.
Things were looking up. A doctor i had never seen came into the room while my mom was getting dialysis done and told me she’d be home in 4 or 5 more days. Awesome, good news. She had been moved from cvicu to the regular north tower. Sam and I left for the night. The next morning I came back and she wasn’t in the room. They moved her back. She had a reaction or something.
We’re in UCLA. She was airlifted here. I told her I was going to get a video but my phone’s memory filled up before she left the helipad.
Eva let me stay at her house last night. I love Eva, she’s my 3rd sister.
It’s been hard being the only one here in LA. My dad and sister are back up north because they can’t take off work. I don’t know how to answer questions they have for me.
Last night I slept in my car. I couldn’t afford to stay anywhere. I went and found a gas station to brush my teeth in and clean up a bit. I called Sara in tears because I’m a baby and I’m scared. Sara always seems to make everything better.
Before I left, my mom told me to go in her purse and get her cash out and to use all of that. My mom reminds me of the old widow in Mark 12:41 who gave all she had. She’s incredible.
There are good days here and bad days. It all just seems like a waiting game.
I cancelled my flight to Nashville. My mom wouldn’t let go of my hand when i told her I had to leave in the morning. She held up the number 3 signaling she wanted me to stay 3 more days. Her tube is being taken out soon so she’ll be able to talk with me again.
My friend Christian let me sleep on his couch for a few nights. We aren’t close at all but it was the nicest gesture. Everyone has been so nice and I’m totally undeserving.
I went and saw Tammy by myself at the theatre across the street from UCLA. It was depressing and the whole movie I was paranoid that I was going to have to run back to the hospital room. I felt horrible that I was being so selfish for the whole duration of the movie.
My dad finally got here. I’ve been here a week and he hasn’t called to check in on my mom and I. I feel like everyone’s too afraid to stand up to my dad and tell him to man up. Coward.
Sam comes tonight.
Today was my last day with her while I’m here. It’s the 4th of July. I just wanted to be alone with her to talk with her really quick but my sister most likely didn’t realize. I held her hand, and said goodbye through tears. I’m going to miss her.
We watched fireworks go off on the top of a parking garage. This 4th of July has been weird.
Kidney failure. That’s what the prognoses very well may be. Last night, my sisters and I jokingly fought over the phone as to who was going to donate their kidney. This morning, I decided in full sanity that I am. I’ve started looking into the donation process and seeing if there was something I could do while I’m still here in Nashville to start preparing. I don’t want to be away from my job too long, I like it too much and have bills that won’t get paid. I’m confident my body will recover in record time because my tattoos always heal fast. It’s science right?
I stood over the stove last night crying while my ramen boiled and I had a 45 playing on the kitchen table. My mom put it in my pile before we took off from California. It was, a side: Dear Jesus, b side: Love, Sharon. It’s a track of this little girl who is praying to Jesus about child abuse or something, but in those lyrics, I heard my own prayer. I’m not sure if it’s harder to loose someone when you see it coming, or when it’s sudden. But the thought of not knowing my mom’s favorite song or more of her childhood stories isn’t a thing that I’m prepared to live without yet. Goodness, she hasn’t even seen the Breaking Bad finale yet.
The windows that are open in my browser right now are all related to researching kidneys, how they work, why we only need one, and how to prepare for a living donation. My oldest sister is on medication for a brain tumor, my second oldest sister is underweight and consumes alcohol. My brother and I would be the only two family members who would fit and he’s about to have another baby in the upcoming weeks. It leaves me, and I almost feel like it fate. Like the excuses for not drinking, not smoking, not doing anything harmful to my body has paid off for this very decision. Like it’s a no brainer.
If anything, I’ll probably be 5lbs lighter and that’s cool with me.
My mom is in the hospital. The same hospital where Lee lived out her last days. Which is scary. She went in last week for some checkups and hasn’t left. I keep getting different stories from my siblings. She went in one day then they called her back the next day? Or she went in one day, then went home, went to Walmart and a member from our church saw her struggling for air, then a call to my dad proceeded and ended with a voicemail message, then a call to my aunt happened which followed with a call to my other aunt and ended with being back at the hospital? I don’t know. All I do know is that I called to tell my mom to start watching Twin Peaks on Netflix because I thought she would enjoy it and was greeted on the phone by a voice that wasn’t my mom’s.
"Mom? Wait, Mamie? Where’s my Mom?"
"Hold on, let me try and get her, we’re at the hospital."
"Wait, what? Why are you at the hospital? What happened"
"We couldn’t find your dad, she was having trouble breathing, hold on…"
"Mom? What happened, why are you at the hospital?"
"I’m fine! I just had a checkup, ok, I’ll talk to you later, the doctor is coming…"
"Ok bye Momma, I love y-"
We’ve been calling her everyday and her voice sounds weaker and weaker.
My sister here just called and told me she talked to my sister at home just now. Our mom was supposed to have tests done today. She isn’t able to now. They can’t stabilize her. Our dad left the hospital. Sister at home can’t handle it on her own. She was told to leave the room and wait in the waiting room. Mom is being taken to Urgent Care. Sister here is flying back home in the morning. I’m scared. I’m sad. And I’m fully willing to give my mom my kidney if that’s what needs to happen.
“I close my eyes and I let my body shut itself down and I let my mind wander. It wanders to a familiar place. A place I don’t talk about or acknowledge exists. A place where there is only me. A place that I hate. I am alone. Alone here and alone in the world. Alone in my heart and alone in my mind. Alone everywhere, all the time, for as long as I can remember. Alone with my Family, alone with my friends, alone in a Room full of People. Alone when I wake, alone through each awful day, alone when I finally meet the blackness. I am alone in my horror. Alone in my horror. I don’t want to be alone. I have never wanted to be alone. I fucking hate it. I hate that I have no one to talk to, I hate that I have no one to call, I hate that I have no one to hold my hand, hug me, tell me everything is going to be all right. I hate that I have no one to share my hopes and dreams with, I hate that I no longer have any hopes or dreams, I hate that I have no one to tell me to hold on, that I can find them again. I hate that when I scream, and I scream bloody murder, that I am screaming into emptiness. I hate that there is no one to hear my scream and that there is no one to help me learn how to stop screaming… More than anything, all I have ever wanted is to be close to someone. More than anything, all I have ever wanted is to feel as if I wasn’t alone.”
― James Frey, A Million Little Pieces
I’m reading this book. There once was a time when I could have related to every word written on these pages. I’m glad I’ve passed it, but reading this makes me sad, and it makes me want to tell myself 5 years ago that we’ll be fine.
I had just started college, living alone in Los Angeles, a city that will crush your dreams if you let it, and was telling everyone I was happy. That was a lie. Lee was dying, I wasn’t close, and my best friend was the worst human imaginable. Everything fell apart. College fell apart, so much so that I lie about what actually happened with college to this day.
But I’m fine now. And fine is good, and good is almost great.
So I’m almost great.
I know Jamie Nelson as a rapper from back home. His stage name is Cockamamie Jamie / Gentle Jamie. He’s one half of the rap duo The Argyle Pimps and is known around the internet for his infamous rap battle in which he pissed himself (google him). He posted this on his facebook in hopes that it would be spread and shared by all who came across it. Originally, he had found this officer’s personal account, and tagged him in his post. It has since been removed.
Also, this came out of Fresno this week too, a town that I stand by so strongly even amidst the jokes and memes. What is happening in Central California? And why is any of it okay?
"Officer John Overstreet,
We just met. You pulled up on me and my friends, got out of your car and demanded that I “sit down!” without any explanation, or reason. Your aggression was overcharged and heightened. Startled, I asked you why I had to sit down - you plowed through it with a second command, “I SAID SIT DOWN!” Steadfast, and in defense of my rights, I asked you again, “Why do I have to sit down?” You then grabbed my arm and wrist, and aggressively straightened it out, pushing it behind my back and upward, and proceeded to force me to the ground — again, with no reason — just aggression, and an apparent impunity to both the law, and Constitution, and assaulted me in front of my friends. Speaking of “Constitution,” I reminded you that I had Constitutional rights, and that I was not breaking the law, and that you had NO reason to force me to the ground, to which you replied, “Maybe you were (breaking the law)” in the same aggressive manner you had displayed throughout the initial portion of our meeting, and again, gave me NO reason why I was being detained. My friend Jacob Miller then tried to verbally intervene, asking you why you were stopping us, and what had we done, you then proceeded to jack his arm behind his back, and take him to the ground as well, again, with no cause, no justifiable reason, no care for our rights.
The officer in the van then pulled up, and dryly blurted out, “Not them,” and you stood there, same aggressive mannerisms, and attitude (nothing like the smiling, likeable guy in your Facebook default) and attempted your version of what I’m assuming was an apology, which consisted of the word “okay” to your colleague. I reminded you of how unlawful the entire interaction was, and you asked me if I wanted to stick around to file a complaint with your hire-up. I said no, that I wasn’t going to sit with you a second longer, then reminded you of what an asshole you were for assaulting and strong-arming me the way you did. Arrogant, and ripe with a salty attitude that comes from years of being an entitled dick, your partner, the eloquent servant of the law he is, told me to “get your ass out of here then.”
I thought about complaining to Fresno PD, about making an official complaint. I even asked for your name, and badge number (which is how I found you online), to which you smugly replied, “Do you want to complain to my higher up?” with that same angry god damn tone. For about 5-seconds, I admit, I thought, “Yes, I DO.” But, on my way home I thought it through, and realized that complaining to your boss does nothing to solve the problem. I realized that as an ethnic minority with NO criminal record, but one that has still found himself on the receiving end of multiple police harassment cases, there is nothing I can do to keep guys like you (cops with badges and guns that feel like they are above the law) from doing whatever they want - whenever they want - however they want (as you proved tonight), so I decided to do the best thing I could think of: head to the highest rooftop. The highest rooftop for me happens to be my Facebook account. I am a local musician, have been doing music in the Tower District for the better part of 20 years, and have made a lot of amazing friends, and met a lot of beautiful people (you’re not one of them, I’m afraid.) One thing it’s afforded me is an audience. My fans are mostly my friends; we share similar interests, and bond through the comedic nature of my music, and share in our love for the Tower District area (Jacob lives about 300 yards from where you assaulted us). It’s a great relationship. Well, given the fact that I have close to 1,500 friends, again, many of which are in the Tower area, I thought it might be in the best interest of both myself, and my friends/fans to let them know what kind of officers were protecting and serving their beloved home neighborhood.
John, you should be ashamed of yourself, but you never will be.
You should be ashamed that you’ve gotten so far away from what’s good, that you resort to assaulting the very people you are hired to protect. Your immediate intimidation, lack of compassion or remorse, and violent behavior is disgusting. This can’t be new to you, John. This can’t be the first time someone has asked you to provide a reason, a lawful reason for stopping them, I refuse to believe you’ve never come across that question. You’re an older guy, you’ve been in the force a while I’m assuming, this can’t be new to you. You lack finesse, you lack kindness, you lack forgiveness, you lack compassion, you displayed a disturbing hair trigger for violence, and you should be ashamed of yourself, but you never will be. I have no hope that officers like you will ever care. It pains me to admit this, and hurts even more having crossed paths with you.
Here’s the bottom line, John: You ruined my night. You didn’t brutalize me, because I caved in, and let YOU have YOUR way. I have no doubt that if I persisted further in protecting my civil rights - my CONSTITUTIONAL rights - that you would have taken your violent assault on me further than you did. That if I had stood in protest to your actions by refusing to sit down without a lawful reason, that you would have taken extreme and immediate physical measures to assure that you got your way, because you are a bully, and you feel like that badge gives you control.
To those that I do not know that might read this and say, “He was just doing his job,” I say SHAME ON YOU. Shame on you for not taking the time to look into the historical plight of your fellow man (especially poor people, and ethnic minorities), and understand that this type of treatment has been going on for decades, and that this is NOT a case of an officer “doing his job,” that it’s a case of an aggressive jerk running a muck on your streets because his badge and gun give him power to do so. Shame on you for not protecting the Constitution, and shame on you for probably being a racist prick.
Look John, I’ll end this the way I ended it with you on that curb tonight by telling you that you are an asshole for treating me the way you did, and fuck you for ruining my night.
It’s fitting that you like Creed.
PS - I see you know my friend John Lanier. He’s a compassionate, forgiving, and loving man. You should sit down with him someday and learn something from him.
(dictated but not read)
- Jamie Nelson”
I don’t know what it means to be “happy”… Pleasure is not happiness. Because I kill pleasure – you know what I mean? I take too much of it, and therefore I make it non-pleasurable – like too much coffee, and you’re miserable. And I do that to pleasure often … there’s no pleasure that I haven’t actually made myself sick of.
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman on happiness, in conversation with philosopher Simon Critchley at the Rubin Museum in 2012. Complement with 7 excellent reads that attempt to shed light on the mysterious art-science of happiness.
Models: Shelby, Janelli, Jennifer
Photographs by (me) Elizabeth LeAnne
Wardrobe by Sandy Gonzalez
I’ve got an arm full of mosquito bites from holding the light but look at how amazing they are!!!!!!!!!!