Friday, January 17, 2014

A Last Minute Flight


I don't think any of us got sleep Friday night ...and even into Saturday morning and I certainly wasn't expecting the news I had received a little after 6am.  I remember laying in bed with my phone going off...the message from my Mom read "you need to get here now".  That was it.  That was the moment my heart broke.  That was the moment I didn't know how to move, what to do or where to start.  Me being the organizer and freak that I am, I started calling Katrina, Dad, Bannon & Scott.  The only thing I knew was that I had to get us all there and FAST but Florida is soooooooooo far, and even further when you want to be there yesterday.  

I managed to book us all on flights that departed from each city at 8:30am.  The rush to pack bags for 3 people, since Dustin had to stay home, in a matter of minutes was hectic and somehow I didn't do too bad.  I knew if I missed something it could be bought or borrowed from Mom & Tanya...and even Katrina.  I had become a pro at being in a fog and packing in a rush, and by pro I mean getting SOMETHING in the bags...even if it were summer clothes for winter weather!  Dustin drove me & the babies to the airport, we cried the whole way then said our good-byes and off we were.  Traveling with the kids has become so easy and second nature that I just laugh when people see me coming with 2 kids, a stroller and bags.  I probably look frazzled and today wasn't any different.  I barely remember going through the airport, now that's scary.  I remember being numb to everything.  Just sitting there crying, trying not to let others see me so I didn't have to answer the "are you okay?" question.  It was a sad day.  A day we ALL wished wasn't happening.  A day that took forever.  A day that went by so fast.  It was a fog...I was in a fog.  All I kept thinking about was hoping that nobody's plane was delayed and that we all go there together.  Somewhere in the air I got a text from Aunt Lori saying Uncle Pat was on his way too and then heard that Grams and Uncle Matt left and actually had met Uncle Pat on their connecting flight.  WOW.  Just WOW.  This was amazing that we all would get there about the same time and could be there for Tanya.  

Those flights were long and as the anticipation grew I wondered what would it be like when we landed; when I saw my family, when we got to the hospital and most importantly when we saw Tanya.  All the emotions I was feeling were somehow at ease when I saw my Dad, Katrina, Bannon & Brinley walking off the plane.  Finally.  We were all here.  We had NO idea where we were going, what we were doing but we were here.  Together.  That's all that mattered.  

It was well after 10pm when we got to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Florida.  Safety Harbor?  I know...I KNOW.  We parked & met Mom down by the ER entrance since it was after hours.  Hugs were given out, the tears were flowing and all I heard my Dad say as he tightly squeezed my Mom was "I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry"...over and over.  It wasn't his fault.  It wasn't something he could have changed.  It wasn't something anyone could have changed but I knew the feeling he was experiencing.  We all felt it.  We all were sorry that Tanya was going through all this.  We all were sorry that we weren't there for her.  We were sorry for ourselves because the inevitable couldn't possibly happen.  It's not something any of us wanted to think about or even mention but I'm sure we all had the same feelings inside. 

 It's always easier to keep things inside.  You don't hurt as much, or seem to.  You don't hurt others, or think you aren't.  I know Tanya kept a lot inside, so she wouldn't hurt us, make us worry more than we already were.  She was always "okay" or "hanging in there"...she rarely ever told me how she really felt.  I got that she was "scared & nervous" a few times but she knew in order to keep herself strong she had to keep us all strong.  

As we entered the Critical Care Unit my legs seemed as though they couldn't carry me.  I floated through the hall and into her room.  Then I broke down.  We all did.  The tears wouldn't stop and quite frankly I didn't want them to.  I was happy I was there but sad for the reason.  I was wanting to take in as much as a person can of another.  We just hugged her and told her we loved her.  There was no way to mentally prepare yourself for what we saw when we entered her room.  The wires, monitors and hospital environment was very familiar to me but the tubes, beeping and poor little Tanya just laying there unresponsive was NOT something that was or ever will be familiar.  I hated seeing her this way.  This was NOT suppose to happen.  Not like this, not here.  She was as beautiful as always but all I could stare at was her nose.  It was different.  It wasn't the same.  She wasn't the same.  She was thin and frail, lifeless and calm.  She was what I imagined was sleeping, although I know she probably wasn't.  Not in the hospital, are you kidding me.  Nobody sleeps there.  

She had freshly painted ones.  You know...her favorite Sally Hansen Insta-Dry in Racy Rogue or something like that.  I only know because that lady Sally only has so many colors! haha.  She had a nice hairdo and perfectly manicured eyebrows.  She never lost her eyebrows during treatment and honestly I was ALWAYS jealous of them since she never waxed or anything.  She was just her.  In all her perfectness.  Her sweet smell permeated the room as if she had perfume on and it was HER.  Just her.  Nobody, nothing else.

My Dad was standing on her left side with Bannon and then that's when it hit me...when I saw him breaking down, helpless.  We all were helpless but we were right where we needed to be.  We just stood there crying for hours and hours and hours.  Uncle Matt, Grams & Uncle Pat arrived somewhere before midnight and joined us.  We just stood in her room in the dim light crying, reminiscing and staring at her as if she was just going to open her eyes, squeeze our hand or just sit up.  Well, that's what we all hoped for.  A miracle.  Her skin was soooo smooth, like butter (inside joke) and again I was jealous.  Mine was so incredibly dry...ALL the time.  I just love her.  

We took turns, breaks in the family waiting room; which was turned into our personal area quickly.  We had baskets upon baskets in the waiting room and her room full of fruit, snacks, etc.  They were looking out for us because lets face it...we certainly weren't.  I think I managed to get in 1-2 hours of sleep in a 48hr period but exhaustion has passed long ago.  Fasting wasn't something I had in mind but certainly wasn't hard to do.  Finally, everyone was there in the hospital to be there for Tanya.  Blessed she was, beyond measure.  The love for this girl is astounding and overwhelming.  Sunday, at some point, we had a family meeting.  Dr. Stein was able to arrange an air transport back to Arizona but would be around $15,000 and who knows when that would happen, if Tanya would do okay and the one thing that kept coming to me was that she would be ALONE on the flight...all the way across this great country.  What if something happened and we weren't there...AGAIN?  She wanted to go home.  I wanted her to go home, we all did.   

The reality was that she was very sick and even though we couldn't take her "home"; WE WERE her home.  We were there and we weren't leaving her side.  Not at all.  In the few family pow-wows, if you will, we discussed what quality of life she has on the ventilator.  She could be on this indefinitely.  Her liver was shutting down, you could see how yellow her skin and eyes started to become.  She was slowly slipping away, against her wishes.  Tanyas cancer was so aggressive that the 2 months she had gone without treatment had only given it free reign to do what it wanted in a place that it did not belong.  She fought and fought and never stopped fighting.  SHE was relentless...she was brave.  She was strong.  She was so full of courage, love and ambition.  She was not about to let this monster take anything else from her and she didn't.  She won.  She took her life back.  Though she may not be here physically with us, she is more alive now than ever before.  

As a family, we decided to take her off life support.  That's no life for anyone and certainly not what Tanya would have wanted.  We got pizza, her favorite, and went to Clearwater Beach.  We bought flowers and sent them out to sea.  When we returned to her room we said our goodbyes and she was taken off life support.  Nobody knew what to expect.  They doctor & nurses had to titrate her medication so they knew she could handle being off the vent.  Of course she handled it like a champ and was breathing on her own.  Maybe our miracle was happening?  We held onto any little piece of hope there was.  That was at 5pm when she was taken off the ventilator, on Sunday.   As they allowed us back in the room we all huddled around her again and the crying continued.  The million "I love you's" were coming out of our mouths left and right.  More than you can imagine...and then something happened.  Something AMAZING happened.  Tanya began moaning!  She muttered something and although it wasn't long lasting and we didn't know what she was saying, Mom assured us she was telling us she loved us too!  That was the last thing Tanya said to any of us.  She knew we were there and she was beyond happy that we did make it...but she knew we would; in one way or another.  

Tanya was given medications to help dry up some of the secretions in her lungs that was giving her that gurgling sound as she breathed.  He breaths became less labored, he skin looked better (not as yellow) and she looked peaceful.  She looked amazing!  That was Monday morning.  Still kicking cancers ass!  Breckin had left his botty (blanket) with her on Sunday night...and since it's practically an appendage, this was HUGE!  He knew his best friend needed the comfort and warmth of his botty more than he did.  He never once asked about it or cried for it.  He loved his Aunt Tata sooooo much.  Me being the overbearing one decided since all life saving measures were being removed, I would make her comfortable.  Maybe I shouldn't have, but I did.  Everyone kind of just looked at me without saying "what are you doing?"  She was my baby sister and I wasn't going to let her lay here in this bed where she had been since Friday, uncomfortable.  She always hated the monitors, wires, etc.  That was the one and only thing she ever complained to me about.  So restricting.  So...I took them off.  I lowered the bed rails so we could get a little closer.  I took off the stickies all over her chest that were connected to wires.  I did some exercises on her legs and arms because come on, have you ever had your limbs stuck in one position too long?  It hurts!  She got her own pillow, that Breckin now sleeps with every night. I removed the arm restraints from her wrists & I hoped that she felt at least some comfort in her bed.  

The kids were getting restless, emotions were higher than normal today so we took a walk.  They loved their walks with Tata, pointing out different colors of cars.  That's how she taught Breckin his colors!  So off we went.  We stumbled upon a park just outside the parking lot of the hospital and hung out there.  Released some pent up energy the kids had and soaked in as much sun as possible.  For being in a hospital for 3 days the kids were surprisingly doing well but the weather was too beautiful to not enjoy!  Soon Uncle Matt, Katrina & Brinley joined us and then Mom & Dad dropped off snacks as they headed back to the room.  We decided to go get the kids some lunch and hit Walmart for the little things like contact solution and shampoo, that we had forgotten.  Summer clothes too.  

That's when we got the call.  The news that I knew was coming but wasn't ready for.  I just stood there as Katrina told me.  We didn't eat lunch.  We got back in the rental car and headed back to the hospital.  I wasn't there.  We weren't there.  It kills me every day to know I wasn't there for her, yet again.  I wasn't there when she left us for a better place, a place we are all jealous of.  I mean walking the streets of gold with God...come on!  It hurts me that I wasn't there with her in her last moments, but from what I heard; she was NOT in pain.  She did not suffer and there was a calm in the room like never before.  She was at peace.  She was in heaven.  She knew we would all carry on her memory and she's right!  Tanya left us on Monday, October 28, 2013 @ 105pm.  She had joined many close friends and loved ones and I believe Morgan Cooper was the first one at the gates as she entered!  She probably shoved her way through to see Tanya!  I'm so glad that Tanya had Morgan by her side so many times throughout her fight and every day before that.  Until we meet again girls...I love you both more than you could ever imagine!!!!

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