Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Obituary





Still Life of Doug Fuller, by Nettie the Horse



Hi folks-
Today is both lighter and heavier. We had a moving and very sweet funeral at Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, where I received an urn of Doug's ashes. Many thanks to those who were able to make it.

I wrote a few versions of his obituary, a painful yet cathartic process, just like every blog post here.
See it as it ran in the print and online versions of the San Francisco Chronicle today, making it oh, so very official.

Clara and I are very intentionally trying to close the book on 2019 and celebrate the beginning of a new life in 2020.

Again, I must say this fast tragedy has been a lot less painful thanks to the voluminous love and support in all forms these past six months. Clara and I will be grieving for a while, and sifting through the rubble to figure out what is ahead. No big decisions yet, I know I know.

Please keep tuning in here for updates. As soon as I find a local venue that can comfortably hold 400 folks or so (PLEASE SEND RECOMMENDATIONS), we will book it and start planning the memorial that Doug expected.

And yes, let's all honor Doug by living life to the "Fullerest" - one of the greatest lessons he left behind.

Much love,
Candy & Clara





Friday, December 20, 2019

RIP Franklin Douglas Fuller



2015 family photo shoot

Oh, dear readers. It is with very heavy heart that I write the news of Doug's death on Tuesday, December 17. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma at the end of June, and left us just six months later. Yes, it was super fast. We had half the time together than I expected. But we are finding great comfort knowing he did not suffer any longer than he did. His last words were "UGH!!!" and "I don't want to do this anymore!!" - and he really hated being bed-bound and with zero agency.

[WARNING: EXPLICIT PHOTO OF DOUG'S FINAL HOURS AT THE END OF THIS POST]

He was deeply cared for by so many leading up to his last few days. Yomi was with me as we helped sedate him after being so agitated and uncomfortable. I will forever be so grateful to him for his gentle bedside ways with Doug when I was only frustrated and angry.

Let's remember him this way

And Doug knew he was going to go this fast. He told me three weeks ago "I don't think I will make it to Christmas" which I really refused to believe. I wanted to punch anyone who suggested he might meet an earlier demise in the throat, actually. But he knew all along. I have been getting signs of this that prove he wanted it to be just this way to limit the suffering of him and us who surrounded him.

The tsunami of tributes on Facebook is amazing to behold. So typical that someone is so grandly recognized posthumously. By attempting to keep the news of his diagnosis off Facebook, many people had no clue he was even going through this. That is how fast it happened. And I am very sorry for those shocked by it now and learning about it on social media.

In late July- the bond they shared was so precious
But we are taking comfort knowing he was able to spend lots of quality time with blood and chosen family these six months, and we remapped our lives to make that a special experience for all.

There is so much to say, and Clara and I need to catch a plane to finally see my aging folks in North Carolina. Watch for a formal obit soon.

And yes, we are gathering very close friends and family from all points around the world for a very small church service to remember him soon. Due to space constraints, we must make this invite only, unfortunately. PLEASE KNOW that we are designing a proper festive event full of fanfare and celebration for him in a few months- just like he wanted- and we will welcome anyone who wants to be there at that time. For now, we need to circle the wagons to grieve while emotions are high and in a way that respects all the many sides of Doug Fuller.

How did he go? I know you want to know. The best news is that he waited for me to let him go. Per the direction of our amazing hospice nurses, he had been in a deeply sedated state for 24 hours, snoring with mouth open and wheezing and not waking up. I thought he would come out of it. And it was so creepy and upsetting to see him in that state.

At 5am, something moved me to come find him in the room we made up for him. Many suggested I tell him it was ok to go, to release him, and that Clara and I would be ok. So I did that. Thank you Molly, Sydney and Amani for this counsel. He opened his eyes for a moment, closed them shut, and gave me five more increasingly slower, labored breaths before he slipped away. I know he was waiting for me to be by his side, and I know that he heard me. And that is what is saving me from extreme hysteria right now. He did not die alone.

Rest in Peace and Power my dear, sweet husbear. I feel you still with us and can't stop crying and telling you how much I will miss you, something I wish I had the chance to say much more than I did.


Camp Tipsy tee and bow-tie



Wednesday, December 4, 2019

This One is Laden with F-Bombs


Morning ritual: coffee and lap time with Stinker
Dear friends-

Had been waiting for Doug's return from the Big European Adventure with Camron and Timmmii to post, which extended to after Thanksgiving, and here we are.

Tl;dr- The Shit is Hitting the Fan

Doug has dramatically slowed down and requires a fuck-ton more assistance to move through life. He uses a walker in the house to get around, and takes many very long naps daily. We are thankful for so many things, including the fact that his appetite remains big, he has no major body pain and uses no opioids, and has zero nausea. But his mobility is severely limited now, sight is fuzzy, and confusion is greater. Leaving the house is a once a week thing. He needs help getting dressed, taking baths, making a sandwich, locating his water bottle, etc.  We are adjusting around it all and trying to stay calm but that doesn't always happen.

NB: We are limiting visitors quite a bit since he is sleeping so much of the time. Small pockets are still possible, but less of them. The mood can be dolorous, so go with it if so. Please keep coming to visit.klowntown@gmail.com to schedule visits, and many thanks for your patience because it won't always work for a thousand fucking reasons. Also, he isn't really using his phone much, and email not at all. I screen when I can and read sweet things to him that pop up. Lastly, I keep coming across people IRL who painfully admit that they have not reached out at all because they didn't have the words. Let me encourage you now. YES YOU DO. As long as its positive, supportive and succinct, YOU DO. So send away. It's about the gesture. You are not bothering us! Just can't always reply. This is one of many big lessons learned about grief and coping, so passing that shit on.

And way up front here, I want to show my deepest gratitude to the many friends who are are elbow deep in this with us, offering  strong counsel at a time when big decisions constantly need to be made. Because of those conversations, lots of great things are on deck:
  • In-home care kicks back in Tues-Wed-Thurs while I go to work and
  • Hospice is coming here to assess our sitch and will take over all of Doug's care
  • Many, many subscription services Doug can no longer use are being shut down and billing halted (thanks, Tina!) Getting this kind of minutiae handled is tedious af but so necessary and a giant weight lifted
  • We are Writing Things Down regarding the kind of memorial service he wants, and that is good
Clara just turned 16. Doug was able to pick out a gorgeous pendant from one of our favorite jewelers, Pave in Rockridge, which designed our wedding rings. We bought her a citrine stone ringed in diamonds on a necklace as the big gift to mark the occasion and she was beyond touched.

And she is really maturing even more through all of this. She is helping me do more things around the house because she sees how overwhelmed I am and is integrating upward with me. The sisterhood-like bond that is developing between us blows my mind on the daily. Clara has a serious goof-ball side so we find ways to express that with Doug as much as possible. She says the most touching things, always via SMS, and my heart stops in a good way. This see-saw of emotion is making the wild ride all the crazier, but see-saws have been kind of the norm in our whirlwind chosen lifestyle so....

One of the things she typed me the other day was about how "...we will be happy like before again", and I believe her.

Being a mother trains you to deal with intense caregiving but doing it for your spouse never stops sucking. For instance, sitting down for more than 10 minutes at a time doesn't happen unless Doug is sleeping. My hot flashes flare like crazy and he is always cold so adjusting the Nest is a constant. And Doug just feels humiliated by how much he has diminished and how little he can contribute, even though we constantly try to reassure him. Hugs bring tears. Yes, we are doing Google Hangouts with the psychiatrist weekly and yes, we have amped up his depression meds. Coping all the time, while feeling the doom grow, is fucking exhausting - so this additional help is timely.

It has been less than 6 months since this bullshit situation took hold, and already I am nostalgic for how much easier things were in September. We purposefully jam packed a LOT of trips and experiences in when we knew Doug could do it all. That all came to a screeching halt a couple of weeks ago. The whirlwind may have worn him out, but that is the calculated risk we took. Sitting around waiting on cancer to sink in really wasn't an option.

And yes, Doug had the trip of a lifetime with his two buddies- and the scenes he shared from the Scottish Highlands showed how much fun they all had. (I won't say more on this- watch for a blog post with lots of pix about the trip soon. It was all over Camron's and Timmmiii's Insta)

klown, bunny, klown

The trip was planned and paid for nearly a year ago. We realized Doug would be flying home solo late in the game, and that was not going to be a tenable situation for anyone. Neal Kaptain made the brilliant suggestion that I fly over to meet up with Doug in London, and attend the huge London Burning Man Decompression party going on at the same time that the boys were going to already, then fly back with him. Our great friend Yomi, the Londontown perma host and old skool drum & bass DJ was scheduled to spin at 1am. Eight rooms of techno, 1400 people, and Scumfrog was gonna be there! So I bought a fast ticket and made arrangements to be in London for 52 hours to collect Doug, doing a deep long afternoon hotel transition from Timmi and Teiwaz to me, then catch a late night rave, see the Christmas markets, and hustle Doug back home. Having that time on the plane with him was magical, too. We talked about so many deep things, which I journaled, and made plans for Clara.

On the plane, Doug talked about how much he missed Clara and I while traveling. He repeatedly said  that all he wanted to do was snuggle with us and watch movies when he got home. His days of going downstairs to the Klown Bar are over, so I decided to buy a huge, cozy sectional couch (with two power recliners) and a big new TV on a rolling stand so that we can have a new nest upstairs. i was delighted to realize, that, finally,  the universal remote works as advertised and many streaming services can be cast from phone to TV with one click. Yay for (long hyped) working technology!

Doug listens to Xmas CDs while Young Timmmii and Clara are on the couch
This was the right call. We are more physically connected now that we have plenty of space to sit together with room for visiting friends. And we have a list of movies to watch as a family and as a couple. If you have recommendations of good classics we should watch with Clara, please sound off in the comments! We just showed her Repo Man, Donnie Darko, Rocky Horror Picture Show and IT The Second Chapter to give you an idea of the kind of content we are thinking about (edgy and thought/convo provoking).

Doug's mother's brother Frankie, his wife Judy, Rachel the wife of Doug's Dad Jerry


Kelly the wife of brother Deron, daughter Emilia, daughter Eloise and our Clara

This microsuede nest came in handy since we hosted three sets of Doug's family over Thanksgiving, and had a grand time doing it. His dad and brother were in town with their families, along with his Uncle Frankie and Aunt Judy, who are Cajun- born and bred in Baton Rouge. They brought pecans from their backyard for pies, and all kinds of seasonings to make a gumbo out of leftover turkey and Louisiana sausage. Doug said it was the best he had ever had- the roux was out of this world! Many laughs were had, and everyone helped us keep the holiday low stress by helping me pull it all together. I am so glad Doug had that time with his kin and that Clara had more chances to bond, too.

More good news: YES! There WILL be a Christmas CD mix again this year. For the past 16 years, Doug has been designing holiday music mixes and making marketing mailers out of them to send to all his real estate contacts, which includes so many folks in our friends and family sphere, too. Thanks to the big audio assistance of Tim Pratt and his super talented illustrator Robyn Adams, expect a new mix to come out soon! And if you want to get into the spirit NOW, here are links to all the mixes he has made over the years from his work website.

In summary: Things are getting darker, slower, quieter and more real. I am gearing up for it and so is Clara but again, trying to stay as present as we can while Doug can still crack jokes, share laughs and snuggle on the couch. He is so lucid in so many ways! But this is some serious fucking bullshit. I am doing as much yoga and pilates and power walks as possible to stay in shape for this wild ride because it requires so much fucking strength night and day.  Crying for me now happens 2-3 times daily and sometimes uncontrollably. If I really want to work out some of the sadness, I just listen to Luther Vandross on Spotify super loud in the Benz with all those speakers. Major downpour. Or get on a plane. I lost it in Heathrow. Ellie from Virgin on the LHR > SFO leg saved me with buckets of champagne in first class as she arranged seats for me and Doug together and made everything ok.

And I must close this post by repeating how deeply thankful we are for the tight orbit of companions, confidantes and counselors who are shepherding us through a time of fear and struggle. We know there is a light at the end of this fucked up tunnel, we do. May we get there in a less speedy fashion.