Friday, November 23, 2007

A wonderful trip to Ecuador- Tributes to Mason

The park sign dedicated to Mason at Ambassador's Residence
Mateo and his award for being a great brother
Despite marathon delays getting there, it was a great trip. Very tough, lots of good memories but well worth the delays. Mateo got to have lunch with his buddies and recess Wednesday and Thursday and playdates in the afternoon both days. It was like he never left. They just jumped right in and played like it was he left for vacation. Danielle got to spend time with her friends and they surrounded her with lots of hugs and love. Kirk arrived on Thursday and was embraced by the Peace Corps office.
The ceremonies Friday were beautiful. The weather held out and we were outside. The park is so kid friendly- Mason would have loved the new park. Our friends Karen and Marty spoke, Kirk and Danielle said a few words and gave an award to Mateo for being a great brother, and then the Ambassador's husband, John Walsh spoke on behalf of the both of them and dedicated the park to Mason. We had a short prayer and then unveiled the sign. We will post the slide show when we return from Thanksgiving in NY.
Then we had lunch at Peace Corps. Cisco dedicated a plaque to Mason that had his photo and said "In loving memory of Mason Leach, Son of Peace Corps Ecuador" This plaque is in the reception area and Mason is next to the official photos of Bush and Cheney. It will hang there as long as there is a Peace Corps Ecaudor. They then had traditional lunch, a mariachi band serenading Kirk for his birthday and a soccer game with staff and Mateo.
Later that afternoon we had a dinner at our friend's Susan's house with all our Cotopaxi friends. We shared the slide show of Mason's life, shared laughs and cake for Kirk's birthday.
Many thanks to all our friends who organized everything, opened their homes, had playdates and helped us heal. It truly was healing for all of us.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Going to Ecuador this week

The Ambassador and her husband are dedicating the new park at her residence to Mason. Mateo named it " Mason's Superstar Park". We spent a lot of time there playing when we lived in Ecuador- playing tennis, going in the pool and playing in the park. We will go to Ecuador on Tuesday to spend time with friends. Mateo will get to see his buddies from Cotopaxi. He is very excited about seeing them. Peace Corps will also be doing something special in honor of Mason as well. Kirk will come down on Thursday for the ceremonies on Friday.

It will be bittersweet for us all. We had such a good life there. Mason will sorely be missed. We will grieve with our friends there. It will provide some closure, if there can be closure for this.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The story of his passing

I was watching a show the other day about death and dying - upbeat I know but it was really helpful. They talked about how telling the story of one's passing becomes like a prayer- a meditation.

Many people have not heard the whole story, some have. So here goes his story....

On Thursday the 11th we went for his MRI since he had symptoms- facial nerve loss, balance issues- so we were pretty sure the news was not good. Mason and I went to school in the morning. He was excited that he got to do the calendar for the first time and dance a bit with help in music. When we left, he wanted to call his Dad at work to let him know he did the calendar.

The MRI went fine. He woke up from anesthesia a bit worse than normal. We went upstairs to talk with the doctors and come up with the plan for the next steps. While we talked with the doctors, mason slept in the arms of one of his favorite nurses. The doctors told us the cancer had spread around his brain stem and his time was short a week or two at most.

On the way home I asked mason if he wanted to know what the MRI said- we usually talked about it on the way home from the doctor- and he said no not yet. We went home and had a good night with Mateo.

In bed that night I asked him again if he wanted to know about the MRI and
he said"Mommy I already know what it said."
I said, " You do?"
He said" I know it is all over"
I said"they will not let you be in pain"
He said,"I know Mommy"
I said" It okay to go to heaven if you are ready"
He said "I know Mommy"

And he kissed me and fell asleep.

The next day he woke badly- like he was in a nightmare. I had to wake him up to give him his medicine. He refused to take his medicine, yelling at me, to get away from him, he was dying, leave him alone. Francisca and I were trying to reason with him to take his meds. Hospice had left an emergency med pack and I called hospice to help me. Then they told me to give him the morphine and Haldol and see what happened. he calmed down and was a new man. he took his meds for me, we took a bath. He told me he was sorry for yelling at me and gave me a bunch of kisses. Kirk had come home in the meantime and he snuggled with his Dad on the couch and was really sweet. A bit high so it was funny to watch. Hospice came and checked on him and then he fell asleep until Mateo came home. He tried to stay awake when Mateo was home because Francisca had gotten the soccer stickers he had wanted and they were putting them in the books, but he was so tired and just laid his head on my shoulder and watched.

He then said he just need to sleep Mommy, thanks. And he never regained consciousness.

At about 2am , I woke up and he was seizing. We called hospice and they came over. She told us he was now actively dying. It could be a few hours or a day or two.

We stayed with him all day. Told funny stories, snuggled with him. Mateo brought him his stuff and talked to him. All day we just told him that it was okay to go. The mother and father in us had to tell him it was okay to go. Everyone came to say goodbye- to tell him what an awesome guy he was.

In the afternoon the hospice nurse told us he was close. The way a dying person breathes can be frightening if you had not been prepared. Fortunately we had been. Mateo had gone to the DC United game and came home. He told Mason the score and left the room.

We were all holding him. Kirk on one side, me on the other, Francisca by his feet and others in the room. The lights were low, we had candles, music playing. Mateo came in and held his hand. He took several breaths when we though it was the end. He passed away a few minutes later.

Kirk and I bathed him. I got in the tub with him like I always did. We put his favorite cream on him, francisca's Nivea, because he loved the smell. We wrapped him in his favorite blankets and laid him back on the bed and waited for hospice.

The gentleman from hospice came and declared him dead, called the organ donation team, and the funeral home. The funeral home came and swaddled him in sheets. he looked like a little baby in the nursery. I really wanted one of us to carry him out of the house. I carried him downstairs with Kirk's help. We placed him on the gurney where they strapped him in. His face looked at peace, almost back to the way before he was sick. We were all crying- even the funeral home guys were teary eyed.

Letting them take him was really hard.

And so it happened. His journey on this earth ended and the one in the heavens began.

Kirk will probably fill in more of his details later. But it is important to share that we think he decided he was ready and we all helped him on his journey. Our friends and family helped make his passage as peaceful and loving as it could have been.