Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Saying Goodbye. "Love you bro"

It's strange - How quickly everything can change while nothing changes all at the same time.

Sunday, BJ and I went fishing. We found a small lake about an hour away. It's not as good as my favorite spot, but it's a lot closer. A day trip is much more doable without two hours on dirt roads.

We had a great time. BJ caught two fish on his fly rod at the same time. That doesn't happen very often, and has never happened to either one of us before. We talked about stopping to get a picture of the Nudist Camp that is at the mouth of the canyon. It is always "Closed for Mosquitoes", and I felt all of my friends on Facebook needed to see it.

We also talked about stopping for a chocolate malt at the little shop in town.

We didn't do any of that. And we completely forgot about all of the fish we caught.

Just before we got to the nudist camp, both of our phones started going nuts. I had six text messages, two voicemails, and a Facebook message. BJ's brother, two of his sisters, his nephew, his niece, and all of them said to call them as soon as we could. It was an emergency.

BJ called his younger brother. We thought for sure something had gone wrong with his parents... his mom had fallen. His dad had hurt himself and had to go back in for surgery... maybe even something had happened to his nephew's little boy. X was born very premature, and even though he is two now, he is still barely ten pounds and has a lot of complications...

The real emergency didn't cross either of our minds.

I read it on Facebook... just as his brother told him... Their oldest brother had passed away in his sleep. His wife woke up this morning, and he wouldn't move or wake up. She called the ambulance, but he was already dead when they got there.

He is only thirteen months older than BJ. As kids, they were both very close and fought all the time. For the past few years, they've been really good friends. Matt was a huge support to BJ as he was leaving the church. (Matt left years ago.) Matt was a huge support as BJ was going through trying to work things out with his ex (before he left her), and then to support him through divorce. We've been out to visit Matt a couple times, and he's been here and stayed with us a few times. With Matt's support, BJ felt less alone. BJ felt abandoned by a lot of his family because he no longer believed in the LDS church and stopped going. Matt was a lifeline for him.

(Things are much better with all of his family now. It just took time for them to adjust.)

Matt was just here a few weeks ago. When he heard his dad was going in for heart surgery, he jumped on a plane. He didn't tell anyone except BJ he was coming. We picked him up at the airport, went to the hospital to visit their dad, and then he stayed with us for a few days before he went home.

As we were all leaving the hospital to take him back to the airport, he asked me to take a picture: all of the boys. (Three brothers and their dad.) If I had known that was the last time I would see him, I would have taken so many more pictures.

We talked about when BJ and I would come out again. We talked about his garden. We talked about his grand kids. He adored those kids, and those kids adore him. They were the world to him. He was proud to tell us how his four year old granddaughter woke up crying and made her mom call "Papa". He loved being Papa. He had just built a swingset in the backyard for all of them to play on - himself included (of course).

When Matt came to visit for their dad's surgery a few weeks ago, none of us would have ever thought it would be the last time any of us in Utah would get to see him.
We didn't know it, but it was one last time to swap stories about Todd. One last time to talk about his gardens and his grand kids. One last time to talk about the trip to Portland Todd and I would make, so we could play more "combat croquet" with Matt and his family. If we had known - I would have taken so many more pictures. I'm glad he came. I'm glad he wanted a picture with all the boys before he left, so at least I had this one.
I don't have the words to express the sadness I feel for Matt's wife, kids, grand kids, (Those little grand kids were the world to him.), siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, and friends.
He gave us a hug goodbye - told each of us he loved us, and thanked me for being so kind to his brother. He said he was glad to see (BJ) finally had a friend and companion. I smiled. Now when I think about it, I cry.

BJ and I have very few pictures of Matt. Almost every one came about because he said, "We need a picture before we go." I'm glad he was thinking about it.

"We need a picture of the four of us before we go." Almost every picture we have of Matt, came because he told us we needed one. I'm sure glad he was thinking of it as much as he was


BJ's kids came up Sunday evening to spend time with him. We had been planning to babysit the grand kids Sunday night and Monday, because their mom was being induced Monday morning. They stayed with us. They were super sweet.

J is eight, and he is a "mini me" of BJ. He told BJ it was okay to cry, and just hugged him while he cried. Then he said, "I know you miss your brother, but there are still a lot of people here that really love you."

Ke is nine, and he came and told me that J needs some time alone to comfort grandpa, but in a minute we could all go hug him.

Ka is 7, and she asked Grandpa to dance with her, and just kept trying to make him laugh.

I am glad they were there. When we finally got them to bad at midnight, and went to bed ourselves, we both just cried.

Next week we are going to visit Matt's family. Matt won't be there, and that feels surreal. How can we go there without seeing him? All of the siblings will be there. It's pretty rare to get all of them together at the same time, but one will be missing.

This is the first death I have had to process since leaving the church. This is also the first death BJ has had to process without an LDS belief system. He says in some ways it's easier... just being grateful for everything they shared. Feeling sad. And angry. And scared. And sad. Without trying to convince yourself that it isn't a really sad thing.

Matt was not religious. His wife and children were not religious. His parents and most of his siblings were very religious. His wife has decided to have a "Celebration of Life" party instead of a funeral. That seems much more fitting.

And just for the record:
I don't want the LDS style funeral. When I die, celebrate that I lived. I don't want it to be used as a chance to preach or proselyte. Don't make my death a "missionary opportunity". I understand funerals are for the living, and I doubt I will care when I am dead... but just in case I do care, tell funny stories about me. Talk about the things I did that drove you crazy. Talk about the things that I did that made you love me. And please have really good food. Salmon tacos from Rubio's with extra lime juice.

Friday, July 11, 2014

#secretfavoritefishingspot - Just what I needed

A few weeks ago, I wrote about helping with BJ's parents care. We all felt a little helpless about what to do. They need help, but they live far away. It takes a lot of time to care for them. They need it. Care costs money. (Whether it's us doing it, or we hire someone, and we were all feeling drained of resources.)

Good news. We found a couple sisters who live in the same (very small) town that BJ's parents live in. For a small wage - they will come in and take care of the things BJ's parents need. Since they are close, they can come in for an hour in the morning, leave, then come in for an hour each in the afternoon and evening. They also are willing to be "on call" and come in to help if there is an emergency.

The three siblings will still come in for a couple of a days a week, but that means that no one has to stay at the house and a few days a month is much better to manage than a few days a week.

So... all of that... just to say.... we didn't have to cancel our camping trip!
We have a secret favorite fishing spot that we love. For the past two years, we have gone camping at least once every summer. The season to get in is really short. (There is still snow there in July, and we got closed out in October last year.)

We also invited my sister and her husband to come up for a couple of days as well.

I was SO looking forward to the trip and feeling really depressed that it might not work out.
(How do you say, "I'm sorry. I can't help out so you can go to your son's wrestling tournaments and you can go to your one year cancer follow up appointment, because I need to go camping and fishing."? Also... by the way... BJ's sister one year cancer follow up gave her the ALL CLEAR. A year and a half ago she was making plans to just live out the rest of her short life as best she could. Modern medicine is amazing.)

Setting up Camp
We got there Sunday. Set up camp.

Fished. Ate dinner. Fished.

Drove down the canyon to find my sister and her husband. Helped them set up camp. Slept. Woke up. Ate. Fished. Hiked. Fished. Mellen (my sister) caught her first fish ever! And even on a fly rod! Hiked. Ate. Fished. Hung out. Ate. Fished. Elliot (BIL) made dinner and he did a great job. They went home the next morning, and BJ and I spent the next day fishing.

Mellen and Elliot setting up their tent at 11 pm.

We hiked in to a smaller lake (about a mile in). BJ taught Mel and Elliot to fish a little bit.

She caught her first fish!
Playing in the lake with the dogs.

We wore Sadie (the dog) out. She was very ready to go home.

The four of us at the end of the trip.

Hot shower while camping. Brilliant.
I took a hot shower - in the heated shower that BJ had given me. (It was a birthday present in February, but this is the first time I've used it. EXCELLENT!)

We spent some time just hanging out and relaxing.

Once the dogs left, the chipmunks were out (stealing our food).

I wore out my magic fly. 100 fish (on the same fly) would do that.
We fished until well after dark. We both caught a lot of fish. (I was trying to keep track, but I kept losing count. I do know that from the time I said, "I can't hold it anymore. I'm going in to pee." until when I actually got off the lake to go pee, I caught sixteen fish. (That was thirty minutes max.)

The fish aren't big, but they are fun and beautiful. And a variety of trout.
Brook. Tiger. Rainbow. Cut Throat. Cut Bow

It was wonderful.

With all of the worries about work and BJ's parents and my family and his kids and life... I have felt pulled in many directions for the past few months. While camping, I was very present. The farthest my mind would wander was from the lake to the outhouse - 500 ft away.

It was just what I needed.

This weekend, we are back with BJ's parents, and then any day - BJ should be a grandpa again. His daughter is expecting her third child: a baby boy.

Next trip planned is to Yellowstone. My brother is in three plays there, and I CANNOT WAIT to see him.

Monday, July 7, 2014

#ObamaCare It actually helped me.

Several years ago, I wrote about the Affordal Healthcare Act. It had just passed, I didn't know how it would affect me. I was aware that I was the target market - the person that was middle class, without employer insurance, and couldn't afford to pay for it myself.

Some insurance companies have considered me uninsurable. Four years ago, I looked at buying insurance privately and found one company willing to cover me for catastrophic only: $800/month. That was just me, and that didn't cover any basic medical care. I decided if I was diagnosed with cancer or in a car accident, I would just have to accept I might not get care. And I definitely couldn't afford basic healthcare, so I just didn't go to doctors.

Life happened. I got insurance by being BJ's domestic partner through his work. (I should have written about the panic of signing that paper, but I didn't. Maybe I'll do an entry on it soon.) That helped a ton. I went to the dentist, got work done, had oral surgery, and even thought about getting a physical done. (Never happened. Not worth the emotional stress it caused.)

Then in April, he decided to leave his job. He wanted the time to work on his own business, and the only reason he stayed was because they offered him health insurance. They fired their CEO, and the new CEO decided that cutting insurance to part time employees would save them money. So, we went looking for new insurance.

"Obama Care" was in effect, and there was a public market place to find insurance.
Going through Utah, we couldn't get insured together, because we are not legally married. Utah doesn't have domestic partner laws, but the federal government does. Through, we were able to get on a plan together.

Because pre-existing conditions no longer exist, and no medical exam needed to happen to get insurance, I found insurance for just me, fairly good coverage for $180/month. (MUCH cheaper than $800/month, and it covers well-check visits and has a deductible of $2000. I will probably never hit that, but if I did... $2000 is a doable amount for me to pay in a year.)

Based on my 2013 income, I qualified for some subsidies. Based on my projected 2014 income, I would have had to pay it all back, so I didn't use it. 

Our plan together is $350/month. Same coverage as the plan I found on my own, but a family deductible of $4000.

I don't know what will happen in the future. In the present, I have health insurance, and I am again considering getting a physical done. I've even looked up doctors covered by my insurance and called a few to "interview" them. (Ain't nobody sticking their hand up there if I don't feel VERY comfortable before hand.)