fbpx

the last words

The days leading up to someone dying are very similar to the days that lead up to someone being born.
Family comes from all over to see one person.
To either say hello or say goodbye.

After we got the call that Cooper had decided it was time to stop treatment my dad and I drove the 5 hour drive to California where Cooper was staying.
Imagine it, 5 hours, complete silence, yet so many questions lingering in the air.
We arrived and headed upstairs to his room, while on our way up we noticed that my mom was in the family room with 4-5 doctors discussing all sorts of things I had no desire to hear. I gathered myself and ventured to Coopers room. I took a deep breath and entered the most peaceful room I’ve ever been in. I sat down in the chair I’ve sat in a million times, I laid my hand on top of Coopers, and he simply said “It’s time, I’m done”. Tears streaming down my face, I was truly speechless.

Not a week before this moment, Cooper had been in excruciating pain. I remember him texting me saying he couldn’t do this anymore, but I ignored his usual doubts because I would never admit to myself that he was actually telling me he was done fighting.

Over the course of a couple days family and friends from all over the United States came to see Cooper.
The most genuine state you will ever see someone in is right before the say the last words they will ever say to someone they love.
They are urgent, beautiful, and completely raw.
They are honest, bold, and astonishing.
They are the last words.

I heard a lot of people share there last words with Cooper.
I would watch people say their goodbyes, walk out of the room, and well, leave. What else were they suppose to do?
I sat near the coffee stand wondering what it would be like to say my goodbye, what it would be like to walk out of that room one last time, with just me and my last words.

He’s going to die

The night I realized Cooper was going to die.

It was just another normal night. Sitting around the table was me, my dad, and my grandma. The normal dinner conversations went something like this, “Hows Cooper?”, “Hows mom?”, “What did the doctors say?”, “What do they think is going to happen?”.
Tonight was no exception, except I pushed further, asking him what would happen if Coopers infection did not go away, what was the next step? What would happen?
I guess in hindsight me putting the pressure on my dad to answer what was going to happen was unfair, but I just couldn’t help but press on.
I NEEDED him to say the words. If they could not fix the infection, Cooper would die.

Suddenly he pushed his chair back and told my grandmother that we were going on a walk and would be back shortly.
We hadn’t even walked that far down the block when I turned to him and said, “is Cooper going to die?”
“If they can’t heal the infection, if they exhaust all options for a healthy life, then yes”

He was telling me what COULD happen, if they were unable to solve the infection. But what came over me was no longer what could happen, it was what was GOING to happen. I realized Cooper was going to die.
It was as if my whole body melted into my heart. My heart sinking in quicksand. Pulling me deeper and deeper into the ground until I finally gave up, it wasn’t worth fighting anymore because I had finally discovered the truth.

Not even a week later, my dad and I got the call that changed everything. It was my mom informing us that the infection was still there, and Cooper had decided it was time to stop treatment.
He really was going to die.

The last scene

Its March 1st, 2016. A seemingly normal day with an average amount of sadness overcoming me. I sat in my level two anatomy class patiently waiting to be dismissed so that I could immediately call my mom to check on Cooper. 99% of the time I was calling to check if he was alive, but I never said that, I asked how he was, what his pain level was like, and a bunch of other medical nonsense I pretended to understand. Mid-lecture I feel a rush of emotions coming over me, I begin to cry and am asked to leave the class.
I was standing at the front entrance of Nevada State College waiting for my phone to buzz that Cooper was okay, but it was taking longer than normal. I stood there totally stunned at where my life was in that moment, I stood completely hysterical. Before I knew it a car had pulled over and a woman was running to my side, she hugged me and said, “I have no idea what you’re going through or are about to go through, but just know that moments pass.”
She got in her car and pulled away.

Seconds later the phone rang, it was my parents telling me everything was fine I needed to go back to class, I needed to stop worrying. But everything wasn’t fine and that is the biggest lie I’ve ever been told. I know my parents were trying to protect my sisters and I, but nothing had ever been “fine”.
Cooper was having serious complications from an infection he got due to a weak immune system that would ultimately take his life, without being eligible for a clinical trial. This clinical trial was Cooper’s, and our, last hope. One last shot at him staying alive.

A month later he was dead.

In the last month of Coopers life I learned that I was being told the lie that everything would be fine.
I realized that Coopers infections were always worse that I was led on to believe.
I realized that my parents knew a lot more than what they led us to believe.
They gave me hope, they told me everything was going to be fine.
When ultimately, it was never going to be fine.
If Cooper had lived, he was just beginning a battle he would have faced the rest of his life.
If Cooper died, well, he was dead.
NEITHER option panned out to “Everything is going to be fine”.

But thats the thing about hope, as human beings we want to give hope no matter the circumstances. That’s what my parents wanted to do for my sisters and I, they wanted to create hope instead of crushing our hearts with the truth.

I’m not sure if the truth would of been any better than feeding us the lie that everything was going to be okay, and I’m not here to share the parents perspective, only the siblings.
As an adult, them telling me that “everything was going to be fine” has allowed me to become stronger. I now know that everything is NOT going to be fine a majority of the time, not that I’m trying to prepare myself for the worst, but I am being hyperaware that sometimes reality does suck.

March 1st is significant because it starts the ending scene.
The last act of the show.
The whole shabang that was Coopers life.

As part of my grieving process, I know that the past 2 years he’s been gone, I have re-lived every moment that March has to offer. I’ve slowly sat in moments that were exceptionally beautiful and moments that I wished would have never ended. I’ve replayed March 2016 for the past 2 years and this year will be no different.

I will take in every grieving moment that my mind wanders too.
I will embrace the ending scene, but this time I will quietly remind myself that everything is not going to be fine.

After-all, difficult times can define us, diminish us, or develop us.
You decide.

The Cage

Have you watched the show YOU on Netflix? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it.

However, it gave me some pretty interesting insights on life, love, and all things relationships.

[Fair warning, if you haven’t seen the show but intend to watch it, stop reading here because I giveaway some big parts of the show]

In the show, Joe has a glass box in the basement of his bookstore where he keeps first editions of specific books. He ends up using this glass box for evil; killing people and trapping Beck. Aside from the major anxiety I have picturing myself locked in a glass box, I can’t help but think that is exactly what my anxiety does to me.

It traps me in a glass cage, it locks me in, teasing me with the key. Surrounding me, are books. Books of my past, of my fears, of my anxieties, depressions, and PTSD. I can’t help but flip through them re-reading the story that is my life, wondering what I could of done better.

Eventually, Beck tricks Joe into opening the door and when he does she escapes, locking HIM in the cage.

Sometimes, when I find all the joy, when I muster up all my courage to be brave and be fully who God intended me to be, I am able to escape the box.

But then, Joe catches her and that’s where the story ends.

My story doesn’t end getting trapped in the box forever, but it is a constant cycle, in and out of the glass box. Sometimes I escape the cage and am free, then just like Joe grabbing Beck, my anxiety grapples at my throat bringing me back into the cage.

I’ve fought anxiety since I was little but never knew I had it until my freshman year of college, the same year Cooper was diagnosed with Leukemia. Since then I’ve gone through, and still go through, bouts of anxiety, depression, and my favorite, PTSD.

I often find myself trapped in the glass cage, fear haunting me from the outside. I use to sit in that box with no hope of escaping. But over the last year I’ve learned a beautiful lesson, sometimes being in that cage is for the good. It makes me stronger, because there is always a way out.

I just have to figure out HOW to escape.

If you feel trapped in a glass box because of your past, your fears, your failures. I’m not going to tell you its all going to be okay once you get out, because you’ll at some point be back in that cage.

I will tell you that IT’S OKAY. That you will find a way to escape, that you will find joy through the fear.

Keep pushing forward, keep moving towards joy, keep searching for the key that unlocks the door the to the glass cage.

My favorite thing about my brother dying

I’m 99.9% positive you’re reading this right now because of the title.

And that’s okay.

But there are good things about having a dead brother, as morbid as that sounds. Besides the usual guilt trip (if you’ve lost someone you know you can use the loss for evil, it’s bad but we all do it), I see many positives in the death of my brother. I’ve been thinking about him being dead a lot lately and the good that comes in the small moments, I thought I would share my perspective because its very different than most.

Signs.

The dead, your angels, your spirits, whatever you want to call the people in your life who have passed away, they give you signs from above. It’s different for everyone but when you lose someone you quickly realize the signs they are leaving you. I have a close friend who use to always find pennies, she would pick them up and I always thought it was strange until I realized she lost someone close to her and that was her sign.

My signs from Cooper

Cooper has given me more signs than this blog would know what to do with but I’m going to share my favorites that are constant.

  • 11:11 – pretty much since the night Cooper passed I’ve seen 11:11 every day. Whether the time of day, a license plate, or a random 11:11 post on Facebook. I see it and when most people would say make a wish, I say Coops here.
  • Pennies from heaven – the meaning behind pennies from heaven is that you are highly valued. Your loved one is telling you that you are highly valued and loved. I pick up every penny I find and if you ever empty out my purse you will for sure find at least 5 pennies!
  • 5 – Speaking of the number 5, that was Cooper’s Basketball number so I always see things in fives!
  • Feathers – They say that when angels are near, feathers appear. I see feathers ALL. THE. TIME. From feathers outside on the beach, to feathers flying out of a pillow or couch, to even randomly finding a feather in my shower… no idea how that got there! My angel is obviously near often.
  • Doves – We released doves at Coopers Celebration of Life, ever since then I always see one single dove. Even this morning a dove was sitting on the top of my car as I got in, I like to think he was protecting as I got on the road.
  • His Name – COOPER, I’ve met so many Coopers since he’s passed, at one point I even nannied for a little boy who’s middle name is Cooper. The name was never common until he passed away, now I meet all the Coopers. This passed weekend I was at a restaurant with a friend and of course they had “Coopers Calamari” on the menu!

Yesterday I woke up and could not physically get myself out of bed. It was one of those days where you feel the weight of the world on top of your body so heavily you think you are sinking. But I persevered and not only got up, I got up and did a workout. I mean I could barely get myself in the shower afterwards because I still had NO energy. But I’ve made a promise to not break promises to myself so I had to get up and follow through.

As I went throughout my day it was like Cooper knew this day was going to be rough. First, I get to work and my clients number was 1111, then I am cleaning the reformers (fun fact: I’m a pilates instructor!) and there on the floor I find a penny! Why in the world their was a penny near a reformer I have no idea except that it was Cooper. Finally I head to the dealership to get some work done on my car and the guy helping me out… of course his name is Cooper! Then I find ANOTHER penny as I sit down to wait for my car.

Friends, Cooper is in everything. My favorite part of my brother dying is that he didn’t actually die. He’s living, he’s all around me. The more I choose to accept his signs, the more signs he gives me. I was told that the signs from your loved ones stop after a year or two of grieving them, but I disagree. I think the signs stop when you stop looking for them. I am always looking for Cooper during my days; I listen for him, I look for him, and I am always thinking about him.

Everything in life is perspective, including Coopers death.

My perspective can be negative or my perspective can be positive. I can CHOOSE to be mad at the world for the things I’ve been through or I can choose to become stronger because I’ve been through the pain. Life is all about a choice. A choice in how you choose to live, a choice in what perspective you will choose to see, and a choice in how you choose to react in situations.

I CHOOSE to see the positive in Coopers death.

And I am CHOOSING to be in control of my perspective.