Back From the Wilderness
Things That Go Bunk In The Night

Both Sides of It

Jason's grandma died yesterday. It was...not unexpected. It was also peaceful, and one of those instances where crappy platitudes about it "being her time" and "for the best, really" are actually, entirely true. She was very old and very sick -- dementia had long since robbed her of most of the memories of her life and the chance to forge a relationship with Noah and Ezra, her great-grandchildren, whom she was simply unable to recognize in any meaningful, connected way.

But. Still. 

I met her over 14 years ago. At that point, the dementia was simply the occasional moment of confusion or befuddlement, but on some visits it was clear that she was already mixing up our relationship, treating me like her grandchild and Jason like the interloping boyfriend. We'd sit together and hold hands and she'd tell me stories. She gave us both furious hugs and kisses when it was time for us to leave, making us promise we'd visit again soon, which of course we assured her we would. Of course!

I never had a grandmother like that. But then suddenly, I did. 

Jason got to visit with her one last time on Saturday, though she was already mostly gone, asleep in a peaceful morphine haze to block her pain while nature took its final course. I stayed behind with the boys, wanting to shield them from...well, I don't know. Life. Death. A final memory of her being "like that," as I try to remember beyond the last time I saw her, which was an awful thing to see, because she was in so much pain and our very presence seemed to unnerve and frighten her. I sensed it was probably our last visit, or very close to it, but I still gingerly kissed her cheek and said I'd see her again soon.

Yes, it was her time. And for the best, really. 

But. Oh, I will miss her. I will miss my Grandma. 


I saw my dad on Friday. We had a wonderfully long, easy talk together. He still laughs at my jokes and makes me laugh in return. I told him the baby's name and we decided that his middle name sounds pretty much perfect with it, so there you go. Noah and Ezra climbed in bed with him and posed for a series of truly terrible photos, since Noah kept kicking his legs up in front of his face while Ezra preferred to sit with his butt facing the camera. 

Before we left, Ezra begged him to do his PopPop trick -- this funny popping sound he can make with his cheek and pinkie finger, a trick that delighted me as a child and something that I've yet to see exactly replicated by anyone else I've met. Ezra laughed and demanded more, again, c'mon! and tried to mimic the finger-pop but couldn't quite manage it. 

It was just like any other visit with Nana and PopPop, except that PopPop doesn't get out of bed anymore. Eh, they don't care. That's where all the kitty cats hide, after all, and the big mirrored closet doors in the master bedroom make an awesome stage for preschooler dramatic performances, you know.

Jason thought he seemed really tired and pale. I thought he seemed just fine. I mean, considering.


Today, he's in the hospital again. Fever, ridiculously low platelet counts, lungs full of fluid. When he coughs, his throat bleeds. The blood and plasma transfusions no longer seem to be helping, but they're trying again. He spent the entire night in the emergency room, because the hospital was completely full. I'm waiting for a morning update to hear if he's been admitted or not, or whether he'll go home again...or not. 

This is not the chemo, the doctor said, because they usually blame the chemo, or a reaction to some other drug or procedure. This is the leukemia.


He's surprised us so many times before, of course, that I'm starting to expect good news now. Or...good-ish news. Not-terrible news. Just watch, he'll go home today, I bet, and will stubbornly insist on going back for more chemo in a week or two, because that's the plan, and the way it is. I'm starting to expect that the three-to-six months time frame we were given four months ago won't apply to us, somehow, just because. Those crappy mourning platitudes from the first part of this post don't fit, at all, and in fact make me feel kind of stabby and stomach-punchy at the very thought of someone saying them to me. 

Before I left on Friday I kissed him and said I'd see him again soon.

It still feels true. For now, I still believe it, every time. 


That was supposed to be the last sentence, right there, but my phone just lit up with a text message from my mom:

They're sending him home

See? I knew it. I was right. This time, I was still right. Okay. Okay. 


The Domestic Goddess

Don't know what else to say except, *Hugs* to you and yours. Your Grandma (Jason's) sounds like the one we all wish we had.

ccr in MA

I'm sorry for the loss of your grandmother, and will cross my fingers for your father. Hang in there. Fuck cancer!

Kristy Boxberger


Kristy Boxberger


Kristy Boxberger



Long time reader delurking...I sit here, crying for the father of a woman who has no idea who I am. I just want you to know there are tons of us out there, pulling for your family, praying for a miracle, and sending as much love as is possible across the internet. HUG.

jive turkey

I'm so sorry for the loss of Jason's grandma. Your Dad continues to tenaciously beat the odds, doesn't he? Here's hoping he continues that way.


crying. at work. again. Damn, you really are good at that. So so sorry for your pain and Jason's. My dad has stage 1, nearly stage 2, chronic leukemia. It makes me, to use your words, "stabby and stomach-punchy" to read what you're going through and know that it's all just waiting for me down the line. gotta go close my office door now...


lots and lots of prayers for your families.



Sending love and hugs and more love.


Hugs and prayers for your entire family from North Dakota...


Sorry for your family's loss, you and yours are in the thoughts of MY Southern Pennsylvania family. Head high, chica, you are stronger than you know. Or want to have to be.


Thinking of you and praying the best for your father.


I am so glad you were right. Thoughts are with you and with Jason's family.


Condolences for you and Jason's grandma. Best hopes and wishes for your dad (and mom,too). Wishing all of you good health, and thank goodness for the antics of young children!


Oh, honey. I'm so sorry. About your grandmother, but mostly your dad. One of my dear friends lost her husband to leukemia, and my heart just aches for you and him and your mother, hearing what you're describing...

Hang in there. Which of course you'll do, because that's all there is to do.


I'm sorry for your loss and thinking of your family.

Life of a Doctor's Wife

I'm so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. Thinking of you and your father and your whole family, and loving the image of the boys having so much fun with their PopPop.

Sprite's Keeper

Jason's grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman and I'm sorry for both of you in this loss. As for your dad, he's in my prayers.


Oh Amy, I'm so sorry to hear about your & Jason's grandma. And so sorry to hear that your dad had another scare. I'm still believing with you, every time.

Jessie G

I need to seriously rethink my blog reading strategies--when I am SO wrapped up in the stories of life, death, birth, grief, celebration, excitement, fear etc of people that I DO NOT KNOW to the point that I scream at my computer when I read bad news, or excitedly holler "its a boy" to no one in particular even when I am sitting alone or tears pour down my face preventing me from reading more--its just weird. Good weird though


God, Amy, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the loss of Jason's (and your!) grandma, and I'm so sorry that your Dad is suffering with this illness. This shit is not fair, is it? *Sending good vibes to your family all day long*


Sorry to hear about Jason's (and your) grandma. My grandparents just celebrated their 60th anniversary, and I will be so heartbroken when they go. Thinking of you. And so glad that your dad is hanging on.


I'm sorry Amy....we lost my father-in-law to leukemia, it will be 5 years tomorrow. I was 8 months pregnant with my youngest son Landon. "Stabby and stomach-punchy" describes how we all felt too. So yes, fuck cancer, fuck cancer indeed. I'm sorry for the loss of grandma, my prayers and condolences to you and yours.....

the grumbles

I just want to hold your hand, or bake you a lasagna. We (the internet) less-than-three you very much.

Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey

Sending hugs and love.


I'm so, so sorry. My condolences to your family. I'm glad that your father is getting to come home.

Hang in there, you have a lot of support from us out here in internet-land, if that helps.

Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves

This all just sucks and I'm so sorry.


The back and forth, it's okay today and not tomorrow is so hard. At the same time, that means he's still here. To talk to you, to laugh with the boys. That time is priceless.

I hope he beats the odds. Many hugs to you.


Oh Amy. My heart breaks for you and your family...because I know exactly how you feel. And because I do, I know there's nothing I can say that would make you feel any better. Just know there are a lot of people, people like me whom you've never met, who care and are thinking of you during this very trying time.


Hugs to you and your family.


My stomach did a funny little jumping thing right before I read your last sentence, because I thought it was going to be... well, not the good news you got. I'm so very sorry for the loss you've just experienced, but so incredibly happy you got that text. We're all praying for you.

Pinkie Bling

Sending you good vibes for health and comfort and peace...and time.


Okay. Breathe, in and out. I love that story of the boys' most recent visit, it's a keeper. Keep it.

Worst platitude of all: Hang in there.

But do.


I'm sorry. For the loss of your special grandma, and for the fight against cancer, and all that. Cancer robbed us of my FIL last summer and he was older, but still, he shouldn't be dead of cancer. It just wasn't time. And I miss him.


I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my grandmother after a battle with dementia. It's an impossible disease because it steals the person you know and love, and leaves you with a stranger. My grandmother was a Jew in Vichy France. She was the strongest person I knew, and at the end of her life, she was just so lost. It seems so terribly unfair. But at the end, death is almost better, because they're not stuck in a world they don't understand any more.


Reading your post was like reading my diary entries a few years back. I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's a few years ago. I'm sorry for your loss and hopeful for your father. Hugs


I'm so so sorry to you and Jason for the loss of your Grandmother. Even when my grandmother went long after the Alzheimer's had set in, it was a hard blow and sometimes I still bust out Tear Soup and cry. Buy Tear Soup. Good to have around. Everyone should have a copy, especially if you have kids. Hang in there. HUGS.

Carla Hinkle

I'm so sorry about Grandma. We just returned yesterday from my grandfather's funeral; he was 87, my grandmother died 3 years ago, he'd had a wonderful, active, full life, and he went very quickly and peacefully. It was His Time...and yet, it's hard and sad and we miss him.

I also lost my 63 year old stepfather 18 months ago to cancer and it was wretched and unfair and most assuredly Not His Time. Both sides....hugs to all.


So Sorry for your loss! Give Jason a hug for me. I remember talking to her at your wedding.


You're doing all you can. Loving him. Living in the moment. Loving him.

Support and understanding being sent your way.



I'm so sorry for your and Jason's loss. May she rest in peace now.

Here's to beating the odds, to coming home, to LIFE and LOVE and DADDIES. *hugs*


So sorry for the loss of Grandma and sending huge thoughts of hope for your dad.
Thanks for the phrase "stabby and stomach-punchy" because that is EXACTLY how I feel when someone says "Everything happens for a reason." To me, that is the worst platitude ever, especially when they are saying it to me about losing my husband to cancer when he was 50 and our kids were 7 & 11. A friend of mine, who is also widowed, says she just wants to respond, "so I guess there's a reason you're an asshole!"

Parsing Nonsense

You really are doing such an amazing job coping with your father's illness. It isn't easy, but it sounds like you've mastered the tight-rope walk between recognizing that next time could possibly be the last you see him while he's able to enjoy you and letting tomorrow worry about itself.

You're doing great, especially for a pregnant chick. Would that I had had your composure a year and a half ago!


I'm so sorry to hear about Jason's grandmother - glad she went peacefully. My husband's grandmother died last month - she was 98 - and for me, it was the same thing. I never had a grandmother, so she became that figure in my life.

And happy you were able to end your post the way you did. Happy he's coming home.


I'm so sorry to hear about your husband's grandmother. I also lost my grandmother to Dementia just this past January. It's so hard to see them fade away before their body gives out. She hadn't spoken in a year and a half and didn't recognize any of us almost a year before that. It hurts very much that she never got to meet my son, in the way a great-grandmother is supposed to meet her great-grandchildren. All my best to you and your family. Thinking of you...

the bee

Crying again.. I am so sorry about grandma and your dad. I am glad that Noah and Ezra can visit and bring such life and joy into everything. Their innocence will lift everyone up and remind you ( and us) that life indeed continues to move on even when it is painful. Love and hugs, Betsy


All I can say is hope for the best but prepare for the worst. My mom passed from cancer n November. I knew months before then that she probably wouldn't make it this time around. We were told 11/12/10 that she had 2-3 weeks. We were not told before than any sort of timeline or that it was terminal. The doc and my mom were holding out hope and trying treatment after treatment. She passed only 6 days later. I don't mean this to crush your hopes or happy thoughts, just be prepared. Especially being preggo and with all the hormones. I was only 2-3 months preggo when this happened and it was hard and emotional then. I'm even more of an emotional timebomb later in pregnancy so I couldn't even imagine the blow now. I'm holding out hope for you that he makes it for quite a while yet and not in a lot of pain.


This one made me cry. I was remembering my last visit with my grandpa 2 years ago, he had cancer which seemed to make his dementia come on that much faster. It is never ever easy to say good bye. Our final visit had him in a morphine coma and he seemed to hold on just long enough til my mum and his other kids were there.
I think about you and your Dad all the time. I know that this is such a scary time for you and your family. xo


My dad does that exact same PopPop trick. He would talk about his 3 kids being born, and say my little sister came out like - pop!

I'm sorry for everything you're going through. I'm going through the terminal illness whirlwind with someone close to me. Nothing adequately describes how bizarre and awful it is, and how even though there wasn't supposed to be a 2011 for this person, I'm not at all surprised that there is, and when there isn't anymore that's when I'm going to be floored beyond functioning.

Sending strength your way!

Suzy Q

So sad to hear that you and Jason lost your Grandma. I'm pulling for your dad to beat the odds.

Love and hugs!


I'm sorry for the loss of Grandma. My grandmother died after what seemed like an endless battle with Alzheimer's and man, it's just heartbreaking stuff. But, I've never been better about someone dying, because although the end sucked, and it did...she had lived a pretty full life. Had a ton of family that loved her. And the person we said good bye to wasn't really the person lying in the hospice bed.

I'm so glad that your dad is hanging tough. I love that he is able to have a relationship with your boys.

I'm sorry so much of this is hard. Sending lots of love.


Fuck cancer, indeed. A dear, sweet 15-year old boy that I taught for 4 years and who the son of a friend, was diagnosed with brain cancer yesterday. Inoperable. Maybe chemo, maybe radiation, maybe just hospice.

But this blog isn't about my grief. I'm sorry you and Jason lost your Grandma. That sucks.


I'm so sorry, for all of it. Fuck cancer, fuck dementia.


I'm sorry about your and Jason's grandma. And I'm glad your dad is coming home. Love to you.


My grandmother had alzheimer's too. During the time she was sick, I realized that no matter how long it takes, it's constantly extremely hard for absolutely everyone involved with her life, no matter how they got involved. My sympathy.


Hugs to all of you. My grandma had dementia. Not to be confused with Alzheimer's, though I don't know the difference...both rob beautiful people of their everything.

I think of your dad often. He is incredibly inspirational, as are you.


Big HUG from me as well...and I'm glad your dad is back home.


Sending hugs and good thoughts...

Tracey - JustAnotherMommyBlog

No platitudes, just lots and lots of love and hopes for you guys.

the mommy therapy

I am so sorry for all of this. Being around my grandmother when she passed a few years ago was one of the most painful, amazing, scary, and beautiful things I have ever experienced. But,it was her time.

I felt a pit in my stomach reading about your father and his battle. My heart breaks for you and I don't know you. I'm praying for his continual fight.


I'm sorry about your grandma, and glad your dad is hanging on. Sending lots of love your way.


Praying for your dad and you. Keep hoping for more time. Been thru this with my dad and while he ultimately passed from a terrible, horrible cancer (pancreatic) he did rally and hang on many more weeks than the doctor or we thought he would. Every extra day or week is a gift. I was also pregnant and it was a bittersweet time.


It will be 5 years on the 22nd that we lost my uncle to brain and lung cancer. It was such a long fight, at least a couple of years. He never had a hard time with the chemo, not like I expected him to. The last time I was supposed to see him, his son said it wasn't good because his minister was coming to visit. I never saw him again. I cry everytime I read your updates of your father. I pray that his fight will be rewarded. My thoughts are with you and your family.


You guys are in my thoughts as always.


Very ok - all of it.

Katie Serendipity

I'm so sorry to you and Jason, Amy, for your Grandma, and am thinking strengthening thoughts to your dad.

To everyone else who shared their stories . . . I'm so sorry for your loss.

Lori McBride


Lori McBride



This is beautiful. And heartbreaking. And wish your family all the best.


I know the Grandma with alzheimer's bit and it's hard and it sucks. She is definitely in a better place. And you are right..the same does not apply to your Dad. It is different. My Uncle passed away from cancer 2 years Grandmother from Alzheimer's the year before that and my other Grandmother from a heart attach the year before was a sucky few years and I miss them all but loosing my Uncle was the most heart breaking. May your Dad fight the fight as long as he's able. And enjoy all his grandkids every step of the way.


Been there. Been there so much that this post hits incredibly close to home. We just went thru cancer with my kids' "PopPop" (and yes, that's what they call him). And a dementia-clouded death a few years ago with my mom.

Hugs. Just big-ass hugs.

Plano Mom

Cry. Pray. Cray.


I stopped reading 4 different times and kept saying NO. I can't do it, but I did finally make it through. I was also coming here to ask about your dad too because we are not too far away and it has SNOWED every week since christmas here! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. ANd I am sorry for you and jason's loss.


It's been a while since I've been here Amy, but somehow I think not a coincidence with this post. My grandma was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It is very progressive in the last few weeks. And it is very very hard. :( I'm sorry for the loss in your family.


Hugs and love. And a virtual cupcake.


Hugs. Lots of them.


I'm sorry for your troubles. My sincere sympathies to you and Jason and your extended families...this must be so hard.
I am glad you got to have a good grandma experience ..I had a good grandma and miss her still. It's a special relationship for sure.
and, oh, your dad...I admire him and really, hope I show half the courage, grace, and strength of character when I, inevitably, face off with my own mortality. he sets the high bar.


I'm really sorry for Jason's and your loss.

And just so you know, your posts about your dad give me a FULL BLOWN cry every single time.


Oh, how very difficult. Hang in there, Amy. Both of you. All of you.


I so remember being in that horrible place - knowing your days with your dad were numbered, while anxiously awaiting a new life. I remember the days when my dad no longer got out of bed, and my kids didn't care either. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Laura Lohr | My Beautiful Life

I am sorry to hear about your dad and Jason's grandmother.

My husband's grandmother is in the final stages of Alzheimer's and it is incredibly sad. It's like she is a shell of the person I remember years ago.

My parents are Nana and PopPop. I have never heard of another PopPop before. My grandpa was PopPop, too.

Take care of each other, you and Jason.

Heather Ben

Hang in there.

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