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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Personal Note to Readers of This Blog

Dear Readers,

If you're a regular here, you'll notice that I haven't posted in several days. That's because on Saturday evening, my mom, in New York, was rushed to the hospital in respiratory distress, her heart rate out of control. At the age of 90, this is a dire situation. I caught the first flight up Sunday morning, and by the time I reached the hospital a bit after noon, she was semi-conscious. I believe she knew I was there, and she certainly was able to grab my hand tightly.

Over the course of the next five hours, her condition deteriorated. She was suffering congestive heart failure, and doctors suspected bleeding in the brain. She then went into cardiac arrest.

After two attempts to revive her, given her wishes not to be kept alive by extraordinary means, and the high probability that, if she survived, she would be severely brain damaged, my father, siblings, and I decided to let her go.

As any of you who have lost an aged parent knows, no matter how old they are, it's always too soon. Certainly reaching the age of 90, as my mom, Roslyn Lois Kaplan Brecher did, represents a long, full and accomplished life. Hers was all of that and more, and my family is grateful for every minute of it.

Her last three years, because of a grievous medical error in 2003, were difficult for the whole family - especially for Mom and Dad, who is 92 and himself quite infirm. Even with excellent 24/7 care at home, there's no substitution for family, and so I've been commuting to NYC on average five days a month, my sister from the Boston area, a good deal more. Our folks have been the central preoccupation of our lives since Feb. 2003, and we couldn't have done what we did for Mom and Dad without the support of our brother, my siblings' spouses, and my wonderful boyfriend Jake, who turns his home into an instant kennel for my dogs whenever I have to dash up here.

My editors at the Miami Herald have been empathetic and understanding about this situation, and have enabled me to take off the time I've needed without worrying about my job. I truly appreciate that.

We all know that life goes on after a great loss - see the posting below, from a man of faith who recently lost a beloved pet - and that in time one adjusts to the new reality, but for the moment, the death of my mom has left a gaping and ragged hole in my personal universe. To all those who've felt this way, whether from the loss of a beloved human or pet, you have my most profound sympathy.

Oh, one last thing: During the cardiac team's final attempt to revive my mom, while we hovered outside her room in the ICU, a woman with a therapy dog happened to walk by. The dog was a female chocolate Lab named Coco, and she was wearing a bandana festooned with fuzzy red balls around her neck. I dropped to my knees and opened my arms, and Coco rushed into them, enthusiastically licking the tears from my face until my sobs turned to a hearty laugh. That sort of therapy - momentary relief from extreme sadness - is priceless, and I will remember Coco's warm, doggy kindness forever.

Thanks for reading Crazy for Critters.