Nikola, Katarina and Stephan are visiting. Akka is jaundiced and uncomfortable. Stephan takes Akka to Perth Emerg for a check up.
the graceful art of dying
January. The month of so called “wintery mixes”. Andrew at the wheel in the dark early mornings to Ottawa. Akka is poked and prodded over and over: CTscan, MRI, endoscopy, biopsy, blood test, another blood test, another endoscopy, another, another…. Itchiness and fatigue become the norm. There are meetings with the doctor, the radiologist, the oncologist, the endocrinologist, the surgeon…Every time the results become more sobering. Each meeting, each test, each report is more damning.
Akka makes up her mind. Firm.
Finally, a successful stent and the bilirubin starts to drop. She has bought time – between 3 and 5 months apparently. Akka amazingly gets all of her affairs in order, banks and lawyers, bonfires to burn her papers and diaries. She stops driving. Her first thought always: her boys. Stephan and Alex. Will they be okay? She visits with Ajahn at the monastery. Sushi after every trip in to town is part of the deal. And this time, she won’t share! Pains start as spasms, aches, little sharp jabs and becomes more common.
The pain comes on suddenly and excruciatingly. Akka has her first emergency visit- first to Perth and then to Ottawa, where she stays for a week.
She endures – beautifully – an NG tube (and becomes “ganesh”). Katarina sends Akka a video of Nikola that uplifts her and makes her chuckle no matter how many times she watches it. Mam and Pap, via Nango send tulips on Valentines Day.
Akka’s former husband and father of Alex and Stephan goes in to hospital in Toronto. Alex is called home.
Ajahn V visits in the hospital and the chants fill up the room. Another unnecessary stent attempt, a new PICC line (which had to be redone) and Akka goes home with a fentanyl pump and a new low residue diet.
“the sailor of this ship is no longer me”
Akka’s changing body is concerning; her tummy continues to swell, while the rest of her disappears. Will it explode? Her feet and legs are swollen. She has a fever every evening.
On March 8 Wally dies in Toronto. The timing could not have been more difficult. Rest in Peace, Wally. Akka is majorly impacted and goes through a rough period emotionally. The weather isn’t helping. And yet, in spite of all, Akka has some of her best days including a visit from her best friend, Lee, from California.
By the end of the month, her belly is so swollen she goes in to Ottawa for another procedure; an abdominal catheter. 8 litres are drained and her insides have to readjust, she is greatly relieved, yet wobbly and tender around the incision. She lets go again: no more baths.
A couple of good weather days! Akka is on her porch. Her sense of humour is showing up again. She chuckles at being a bag of bones with a pregnant belly. She chuckles at how slow she is speaking. But the pain changes and continues to increase. The fentanyl accordingly gets ramped up. Once again, she ends up in the Perth emerg. Another “portal in her body” to allow different meds to be adminstered at home without a nurse.
She has very good visits, especially with both Stephan and Alex. Gorgeous weather days outside observing her gardens and seeing the first spring shoots.
On April 23rd, Akka had a delicious egg meal again. She went to bed and crossed her fingers saying “tomorrow more energy”. That night, not long after midnight, the last emergency began. She returned, 12 hours later, from the Perth hospital to die at home, as she had planned to do. A final gift to the family, allowing us all to be with her in the most beautiful place that she had created to say goodbye.
Ayya Medhanandi and Sister Anaruddha from Sati Saraniya Hermitage chanted at her bedside, the morning of the 25th. Click here to listen to the beautiful chant.
Akka was wearing a beautiful silk dress and favourite shirt, surrounded by precious items she had gathered from the earth and the fresh flowers that had recently been gifted. All the daffodils that had just started blooming in her garden went with her. The little guardian angel that Ans had knitted was pinned to her lapel and she was holding a little woolen heart from Pap.
We had a little ceremony at home before driving to the crematorium in Nango’s car. Lisa Brunet was there to guide us throughout.We read poems at the Crematorium and Nango sang her song.