A Long and Difficult Illness Leads to a Peace Deserved

Becca

My daughter, Rebecca (Becca) Simpkins passed away February 4, 2024. She was only 47, but she lived a life in the first 37 of her years that many of us might wish WE had led.

However, no matter how magical a life she had crafted for herself then, for the last 10 years of her life, Becca struggled.  She had been diagnosed with chronic depression in her 20s, but had been able to keep it under control – until – she couldn’t. She eventually left California in 2016 to come live with us in Florida to try to live life on a more even-keel. She got back on her feet, had 3 good jobs, made some friends, and was happier than she had been in years. Until…

In the summer of 2018, Becca began to fall, sometimes just walking across a room. Her eyes began to fail. She refused to go to the doctor and, as her mother, I was just appalled.

Finally, in early 2019, the mother-lion-advocate in me just picked her up from her apartment (kicking and screaming!) and dragged her to a local clinic. Within the hour they had ordered an MRI and before the end of the day she had been diagnosed with an advanced form of MS. A visit to a neurologist a few weeks later resulted in quite the opinion:  That she had probably been feeling the effects of the MS beginning when she was first diagnosed with depression – 20 years prior.

Such a devastating diagnosis. And yet, it explained so much.

From there, Becca gave up on life. Her depression couldn’t be controlled (she would take a new prescription for a few days, then stop). The MS infusions didn’t control the dissolving myelin in her brain. She stopped eating at times, and she refused to get out of bed. She refused all therapies offered: physical, occupational, psychological. She developed more than 50 kidney stones which, short of surgery, weren’t going anywhere.

I can’t begin to tell you how helpless and frustrated I felt as I watched her making decisions that were such an antithesis to the person she had ever been, and certainly nothing like I would ever choose.  But then, my brain is healthy. 

Eventually Becca moved to a nursing home in May 2019 where she lived, miserably, until she passed away last month. Imagine watching your child die by little pieces at a time. Devastating.

Why do I share all this?

Because I believe Becca’s situation represents what many of us who work in healthcare, especially in advocacy, face at some point in our lives and careers. That is, the frustration of knowing that no matter how well we educate and support clients – and loved ones – sometimes they will make choices that are far from what we know will be helpful, even further from what we would hope for, which frustrate us beyond and beyond, and break our hearts. 

We know they are making choices that won’t serve them well, and yet… We can’t (ethically as advocates), or we find it difficult to (as a loved one) change their minds. 

Yet, we have to respect their choices for their bodies and their brains. We continue to love and to care, continue to advocate as best we can. And for those we love, we continue to hold them and watch out for them and do what they will LET us do – as much as possible. Including – sometimes we do necessary things behind the scenes that they never know about. It’s an impossible situation to live with and yet, it’s our only option.

Becca at the Fair

Becca is at peace now; a peace she had deserved all along. My heart is broken, yet I know that I did everything I could do for her, that she would let me do for her, for all those years. I have to be satisfied with that. It’s hard.

The sick-Becca, very difficult memories are slowly but surely being replaced by the memories of my happy, independent, do-for-others wild child of early-life Becca. 

I was so blessed to have her in my life for her short time on earth! Her early life was such a kick to experience. She fit almost enough joy in her first 37 years to carry her through to the end. 

We should all be so lucky.  And we should all be so loved.

……………………

If you are interested, my younger daughter, Ashley, wrote her big sister’s obituary which represents Becca incredibly well. 

Content Authenticity Declaration

100% of this post was written by me, a human being. When there is AI (Artificial Intelligence) generated content, it will always be disclosed.

8 thoughts on “A Long and Difficult Illness Leads to a Peace Deserved”

  1. Oh,Trisha. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful Becca. I recall you sharing her struggles, and yours, in your attempts to assist her on one of your trips to CA for Practice Up.
    I hope your family finds solace in knowing your fiercely independent child is finally at peace, and know that you did everything you could, and that she would allow, to make her life a bit easier.
    Sending lots of love to you and your family.

  2. Your heartfelt celebration of Becca’s life deeply touched me. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. May peace surround you, and may the cherished memories of Becca bring you solace.

  3. Roseanne Geisel

    Dear Trisha:
    I just read your story about Becca and Ashley’s beautiful obituary.
    I want to express my deepest sympathy to you, your husband, Ashley and all those who knew and loved Becca.
    I know all of you will carry Becca in your hearts, so she will never be far away. May the beautiful memories sustain you, and t,he knowledge that she is no longer suffering give you strength. Becca, you and your family will be in my prayers.

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Trisha Torrey
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