Sunday, December 11, 2011

Our only goal will be the western shores

I got a call on Friday night that my friend Ellen Rohland died in the hospital on December 9th at 5:30 pm.  She had been fighting an infection she got from falling on ice over 6 years ago.  She every time she would get better something would happen and put her back in the hospital and each time it was worse than the last.  I guess I'm glad she isn't suffering anymore but it just seems so wrong.  I mean, she was only 36.  People don't (shouldn't) die that young. 

Her mom called me and told me that she had passed on.  She told me that I was the first person she called.  Before her own family.  This statement bothers me.  I guess I should be flattered but it just makes me more sad.  I mean, does her mother really think that I was more of a support and friend to her than her own family during these times?  Did Ellen?  Because I feel I wasn't that good of a friend.  I tried to be, but with a kid and her being in and out of the hospital it was hard to see her.  She hadn't gotten out of the hospital for a long time, recently, and a month and a half ago her mother had called me and told me that Ellen had fallen into a coma.  She came out of that coma and I wanted to go visit but she was (and continued to be) in ICU for the whole time, which Asher is not allowed to visit.  I should have gotten a babysitter and gone to see her (but she was always so happy to see him).  I should have tried harder to call her (I could never get a hold of her when I did lately).  I don't know, I feel that I wasn't really there for her in the end.  As it was, we only got to visit around twice a year before this last event.  We did try to talk on the phone about once a month or so I just don't feel that it was enough.  I don't feel that I was there enough for her. 

But honestly, we only talked about once a month because talking to Ellen was hard.  It's very hard to have something encouraging to say to a woman who has spent 6 years in a hospital, who never seems to get better.  It's hard to be supportive and not say the same wrote things over and over again.  So, for the last couple of years, we just talked about me.  How selfish is that?  I felt it was selfish and I would feel bad for it, but it was better than the other stuff we could talk about.  About how she had yet another doctor who could do nothing for her.  How she got kicked out of another nursing home for being a "difficult" patient.  About how she is being moved to another care facility, one that can better take care of her special "needs".  I mean, we did talk about these things, too.  I think they made her depressed, too, when she talked about them and that's why we didn't dwell on them for long.  She loved to hear about Asher and what he was up to, what new words he had learned or what funny thing he had done recently.  I didn't even get to tell her I was pregnant again, I really had wanted to tell her that.  I think it really would have made her very happy.

She always wanted to go to Disney Land with me.  She had worked there as a young woman in college and loved every minute about it.  I've never met anyone so Disney obsessed as she was.  We had plans to go, just me and her (no kids or boys allowed!) when she got out of the hospital.  It was a dream she had and I was more than willing to oblige.  Obviously it never happened...

The worst part of the whole thing is that there will be no funeral.  Ellen's time in the hospital drained her mother's resources and she has nothing.  Not even enough for a funeral or a burial.  It's really sad.  And I feel I need some sort of closure.  I haven't seen her in months.  I haven't talked to her in months.  I feel kind of lost and adrift I understand that need for a funeral now.  I need to say goodbye and apologize for not being there as much as I should have been.  Her mother said she didn't want to ruin anyone's holidays with a memorial service (because Ellen's favorite times were the holidays), so she would maybe plan something in the springtime.  I hope so. 

So, rest in peace, Ellen Rohland.  And I'm sorry. 

1 comment:

  1. Don't be so hard on yourself. I remember you saying that she didn't get a lot of visitors, so she probably was very thankful any time you came by. Also, don't think of yourself as selfish for always talking about yourself with her. You were providing her some respite from her health complications and life in general. You should be happy that you provided that for her in her last few months when you did visit. That was your gift to her. She would not want you to be beating yourself up like this. Maybe you can get together with her mom and just talk about Ellen's life and have closure that way. I don't know if I have any good suggestions on the closure bit. So sorry...