Paul's room in hospice.
There's a certain kind of day on the west coast where the rain seems to hang in the air and everything from the sky to the scenery is grey. Looking toward the river you can't discern water from sky on these days. That's the kind of day it was the day after Paul's 58th birthday. That day we got the call to say he was moving to hospice.
Bitter sweet for sure this birthday. We brought him home from palliative care for a couple of hours. That's what he wanted and Finn wanted, for him to come home on his birthday. It was the hardest day.
These days my spiritual practice routine is in shambles. I can't remember the last time I've sat in meditation. For the past 2 weeks I haven't even been to yoga. However every night as I lie in bed I look back on the day with an eye to gratitude. For example that day my friend Pamela spent a few of her precious hours off from work driving me through the rain to meet with my father-in-law and a lawyer. It must be brutal, as a parent, to realise that your child will predecease you. And to have to think about what you have to do now that your child, who was to have been responsible for your care when you could no longer be, wouldn't be there to do it. It was one of Paul's anxieties that this would not be taken care of for his father. So to the lawyer.
Pamela listened to my joy and grief as she drove and I choked back a quick lunch. I don't so much have an appetite as know I have to eat. It was a blessing not to have to drive on top of everything else.
The birthday wasn't without joy. Just having Paul home was a blessing. In anticipation Finn had tidied the house. He and I are the two messy ones who deferred to Paul to make sure garbage was taken out, laundry and dishes washed. Finn has been stepping up in this. Another gratitude. He joked with his dad that he should have left him some laundry and dishes. Something to do when he was home. Finn had also hung the birthday banner where it will likely stay until his own birthday later in the month, as it usually does.
A few weeks ago I asked Paul if there was something special that he wanted to do, for his birthday or otherwise. At first he shook his head then made a face and picked up his clip board. He wrote "Go out for pizza and a nice glass of wine. Come home and cuddle with my family. Make love to my wife." Heartbreak. He can hardly open his mouth, can't swallow and is being fed through a gastro tube. Heavy duty narcotics took away sex months ago. Coming home and cuddling with the family was all he could do. At home he sat in his favourite coffee spot by the window and I made him a fresh hot cup to hold in his hands and smell. He skyped briefly with a friend about some music they had recorded together but never released. Skype so Paul could type his half of the conversation in real time since he can't speak. And then we sat as a family on the couch and watched Finn's favourite ridiculous tv show. Although Paul's ability to concentrate is low, he sat between us so we could be together.
After this he played a bit of guitar. While it was beautiful to hear him play it was poignant too to hear him comment about his lack of hand strength. We had a second family hug when Finn walked around the corner erupting in grief and we stood together with he and I sobbing while Paul comforted us. And then it was time to head back to the hospital.
The next morning, Friday, December 2, he texted to say that he was being moved to hospice.
We first talked about hospice because it made sense. It is a careful and constant balance to keep his pain managed. He is receiving sustenance and meds through the gastro tube. But later I said to Finn, "Part of me feels like having dad go to hospice is like giving up."
"But I also feel like it's the best place for him, for his safety and comfort."
Monday a snow storm raged and the world turned white. Paul got word that he would be moving to a different hospice, the one we had preferred in the first place. The snow actually delayed that for a day, but now he is here. Now Paul has his own room. He has his guitar and amp and we've hung a family photo as well as a painting that a friend did of him. Here we can be together and let the nurses take care of his many medications. We've been working with our friend Corinne and others on a box set which will include music, photos and other memorabilia. It gives us something to focus on. Our goal is to have it done in time for the tribute show January 27th.
This is precious time. We spend more time together just hanging out than we have in years. It has become it's own kind of spiritual practice. This is the kind of thing I also name in my gratitudes along with friends who come and take me out for dinner, my parents who pick up laundry and drop off food and the Christmas elves who decorated his room. I am also grateful for sunshine and a reprieve from the rain.
This is a time of moments. Grey moment, white moments, sweet moments and sad moments. Life.
Mark your calendars for the Super Duper Show - Triubute to Paul Leahy, January 27.
If you'd like to support the gofundme campaign that Paul's friends have started for him, you can find it here:https://www.gofundme.com/superduperstar
Betty Anne Dempsey
12/9/2016 11:48:49 am
so sad for You, Paul & Finn...so grateful for your ability to write poignantly and to share this time...my heart is with you
12/9/2016 12:15:56 pm
Blessings to you and your family. Holding all of you in my spiritual practice...
12/9/2016 12:27:58 pm
Holding you all in love and light Kimiko.
12/9/2016 12:31:07 pm
Blessings Paul, Kimiko and Finn. I can feel all the love around you three in your sad and beautiful post. We celebrate your courage and honesty. And Paul playing his guitar! Sending all our love, Elizabeth and Thomas
12/9/2016 01:02:57 pm
Tears falling after reading this beautiful, raw piece you have shared. Praying for all of you as you share these sweet and sad and heartrending moments that make up such great love.
12/9/2016 01:09:20 pm
Oh, my dearest sister in ministry, Kimiko, such a heartbreakingly intense time for you, Paul, and Finn. Please know that I am holding you in my heart as each tender moment passes.
12/9/2016 01:33:08 pm
Kimiko, We at CCS hold you in love and prayer and give thanks for your gifts of gratitude, faith, hope, and strength. Thank you for sharing them with us so poignantly. Hugs.
12/9/2016 03:04:24 pm
So deeply moved by your sharing, Kimiko. God bless your breaking heart. Send you, Finn and Paul prayers and love.
12/9/2016 03:39:28 pm
Such a moving post. Sending love to all of you. Paul, you are in my thoughts. Remembering playing guitar and singing with you, and red wine, and the very best songs.
12/9/2016 04:55:26 pm
Thank you, Kim ikon for keeping your beautiful writing in your limited spiritual practice right now.
12/9/2016 05:29:40 pm
Kimiko, Your words of gratitude and grief brought you and your husband into my home this evening. May you be held by the many prayers offered for all of you... Catherine
12/9/2016 05:44:52 pm
Here it is snowy and cold and your post took my breath away: love is so grand, so great, so uplifting, so sorrowful, so opening...and your presence here with me today with Paul and Finn and your words of love from home and hospice gave me wonder: you three are a gift of love.
12/9/2016 08:42:23 pm
Think of you often and hold you all in my prayers
Don & Penny Ludwar
12/9/2016 11:43:07 pm
You are in our thoughts and prayers. God Bless you all.
12/10/2016 06:22:19 am
Kimiko, I have no magic words to make it all better. Just a whole pile of love wrapping round you all, gratitude for your parents and friends who are supporting you and prayers that Paul's pain stays under control.Hospice is a gift in that way for sure, letting you and Finn be family and such a wonderful family you are. Love and hugs, Debbie
Kathy & Bill
12/10/2016 08:53:14 am
Holding you in our hearts, Kimiko, such a moving post!
12/10/2016 09:36:57 am
Thank you for sharing Kimiko .During these grey days you are finding and holding onto the light where and when you can. love to you all.
12/10/2016 11:29:29 am
Thinking of you both with love & keeping you close in my heart.
12/10/2016 01:09:01 pm
sacred words, holy moments, tender love and shared life....God be with you, as I sense that we all are in spirit if not in body, as you walk this journey together. With hugs, shed tears and much love.... chris
Ken and Edna
12/10/2016 04:00:13 pm
You are in our thoughts and prayers at this very sad time. We hope that you, Paul, and Finn can feel the love and support of your family and friends. Thank you for sharing your deepest feelings and anguish with us. We are all in it with you.
12/11/2016 07:56:15 pm
Kimiko... Paul..and Finn....
12/11/2016 11:59:14 pm
12/13/2016 11:28:00 am
Dear Kimiko, Thank you for sharing this beautiful and poignant post. I am keeping you, Paul, and your family in my heart and prayers. May you continue to find moments of grace during these hard times.
Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd
12/13/2016 03:30:06 pm
And on this side of the world all is cloaked in white, softly cold, a strange mix of brilliant light, long shadows and deep night. It reflects my sadness mixed with gratitude for your gift of the blog. I am grateful for your poetic grace and expression of heart-rending grief. Nancy & I send our love and prayers.
12/13/2016 06:31:01 pm
Your blog is so informative and beautifully written Kimiko as we have been wondering how all three of you are.. blessings.. .
larry and beth
12/14/2016 11:33:50 am
We appreciate your intimate thoughts and feelings. Wish we could be of more practical use to you, but if prayers and love help, you have ours !
12/14/2016 03:58:43 pm
Dear Kimiko, A beautiful post of these precious moments in the times of your family life and love. Thinking of you, Finn and Paul. xoxo Kathy
12/14/2016 06:58:21 pm
Thanks for sharing. My heart is with you on this difficult journey. And thank you for being so brave. He is remarkably luck to have you in his corner.
12/19/2016 11:21:36 pm
Paul....patient n kind n caring, to not only people he knows but to strangers n new comers to the building too.. Seeing him embracing these grey days so gracefully is a testimony n blessing to us. Kimiko n Finn n Paul as u continue to stand together in love n ur expression of gratitude for each other, we continue to keep u all in prayers.
12/20/2016 02:38:18 pm
Today is when I learned that Paul is ill. We live in the building and have noticed that he is not around as usual.
12/20/2016 09:01:55 pm
Paul says "Yes."
12/20/2016 03:37:47 pm
I miss you Paul! Prayers to you and Kimiko and Finn <3
12/20/2016 03:43:56 pm
So glad you are surrounded by those you love, Paul. Thank you for being kind to my family over the years. I will remember these times fondly. Your music, quiet manner, and grace spoke volumes to your character and strengths. I was fortunate to have you enrich my life.
Alaina, Anthony, Ollie & Theo
12/20/2016 08:28:14 pm
Ollie, Theo and I shared the elevator with Finn today. He gave us a smile when I could say nothing. What I wish I'd said was how I could sense his strength, and that he portrays the security of one who is deeply loved.
12/20/2016 08:59:54 pm
Give Ollie a special "Hey" from us. Thanks for your note.
Jamie and James
12/20/2016 08:41:04 pm
Paul, your warm and welcoming nature is so palpable. Thank you for your attention and care you have taken throughout the building.
Iva Wang & Xiaotao Clement (Iva's daughter)
12/21/2016 02:39:52 pm
My parents and I shared your sentiment ...
Beth and Fred
12/22/2016 01:53:27 am
Mark Christie & Colleen Allison
12/24/2016 12:15:20 am
We have missed seeing you around the building, Paul, over the last couple of months and had wondered why we weren't seeing you. Your kind spirit shone through in all our interactions. We're so very sorry to hear the news of your illness and were deeply moved by Kimiko's loving blog about your journey through these grey days. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
Chander & Vandana
12/25/2016 06:56:48 pm
Dear Paul, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas this season even when its grey and cold outside. There is a hope in the message of Christmas that surpasses all understanding and a peace that transcends anything that the world can offer. We miss you and pray that God will shower his peace and grace upon you and your loved ones through this difficult time. You are one of the warmest and kindest people we have met in Canada. Thank you for your kindness and gentleness. It has been a joy to know you. Best wishes from us always.
Miyuki and Gord
12/27/2016 10:09:46 pm
Kimiko and Finn - Thank you for sharing this.
1/7/2017 06:46:42 pm
My thoughts go out to Paul, Kimiko and Finn. I was shocked to hear about Paul. We are old friends. We played together in our first band right out of High-school back in the 70's and developed our musical skills. We spent a few years together on the road playing every crappy bar and night club from Terrace, BC to Prince Albert SK and one trip to Tokyo. We were in our teens and grew up together. We were young and immature but had lots of fun and did it for the love of music.
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