Overwhelmed

These past two months have been really rough so much so that I feel like I am a numb husk of myself. Currently I am what you would call a functional depressed person in that I can go to work and get a shower, but still spend inordinate amounts of time trying to avoid thinking or feeling anything at all. I have read a ton of books and played hours of video games all in an effort to not feel.

My grandmother (who is everything to me) had to move to Texas to live with my aunt because she developed dementia and kept wandering around the neighborhood and getting lost while only wearing her PJ’s and a blanket. She’s 91 so I guess should not have been surprised, but my grandmom was always so feisty that it never really occurred to me that this would happen. The last time I saw her she looked her age which has never really happened before.

So she finally got to Texas and was doing well. She went from being on 15 meds to only 5 and she was so happy. The last time I spoke with her on the phone she sounded like her old self and said she was getting involved in a church down there and had made some friends. My other aunt who lives up my way said she was doing so well that she eventually might be able to stop using her walker and that she was not hunched over anymore.

Two days later I get a text that says my grandmom had a heart attack. Then a UTI. Today they are checking her for a stroke. One of her heart arteries was 99% blocked. She was given Fentanyl for the surgery and since then she has been combative and aggressive towards everyone treating her. I’m hoping this wears off and she can get back to herself but I just have a very bad gut feeling.

So I got into grad school (AGAIN) this time for Child Advocacy which is a much cheaper goal to get me sorta where I want to be. I thought I would be excited but I just feel numb.

Last week I found out I need a hysterectomy because my stupid lady parts have never worked right and apparently never will. I get to keep my ovaries so I told my husband that I am turning into a boy because all I’ll have left is some balls. He hugged me and told me I am always all woman to him no matter what.

I’m not so sad about the surgery itself but it’s the final official closing of the door on me ever having my own child and that is what I am struggling with. I mean the likelihood of me ever being able to carry a baby full term was minimal but it kinda always felt like an option. I’m due to have surgery on August 27th and I’m debating whether I should or should not delay school one more year because it starts the first week of September and you can only start this program in September.

There are so many things flying around right now that I can’t think, I can’t concentrate, I can’t even cry (which for anyone who really knows me, this is totally not normal as I cry at Hallmark cards). I saw my therapist and even she did not know what to say except she felt so bad for me.

If you are the praying type please send some prayers up for me so I can make the right decisions and get through the mess that is my life.

2020 The Year Of Creativity

So I think I am finally starting to get better after two weeks of alternating between the flu and strep throat so I wanted to share some things that have happened in the first week of this new year/decade. Some of it may sound weird or crazy, but I am weird AND crazy so it all makes sense to me.

On January 1st I took a Yoga class that I have been taking for the last 4 years. It is two hours of complete bliss. You meditate, then you do wonderfully twisty, bendy, stretchy Yoga, and you finish with a 45 minute Yoga Nidra which is restorative Yoga for your mind. Every year the teacher, Jill (whom I simply adore!!) encourages us to pick a word for the year. During the initial meditation she guides you deep into your heart to pick something from deep inside yourself that you want to cultivate that year. It is not a mental decision but a heart decision.

2019 kicked my ass hard. I lost my Aunt Marie (my favorite aunt), my Pop-Pop, and my father in law as well as my friend Royal. I got very lost, very depressed, and seriously contemplated suicide multiple times as well as quitting my job. So to say I was looking for a very hopeful word for 2020 was an understatement.

As we were meditating, I felt myself entering what felt like a secret room in my heart. It was full of light and sparkles and a sense of joy and wonder overcame me. I saw a little girl with brown curly hair dressed in a white communion type dress and somehow I knew this was my younger self. My much happier innocent self. So I asked her what she wanted for the year and she began jumping, and bouncing around this secret room saying “Joy, Laughter, Happiness,” as she giggled in that way that kids do. “But how can I do this? Life is so hard right now,” I replied. “Just…be…CREATIVE!” she shouted as she giggled loudly.

And so I am happy to announce that my word for the year is Creative and I want to embody that word this year. I want to write more because writing is where I find my joy and I know it is my gift. I want to be creative in my work and in encouraging others. I want to creatively problem solve with the families I work with. I want to find that little girl inside and let her come out to play because I miss her.

I feel like this year is going to be different somehow. That things are going to come together and I will finally make a change for the better. Here’s hoping!

The Last Words You Ever Want To Hear

“There’s nothing more we can do.”

These to me are the worst words you can hear from a doctor when you love someone.

They said them to my mom when they called to tell her my father passed away from a heart attack.

They say them in countless hospitals in countless places countless times a day. I can’t imagine having to say those words to someone. I can’t imagine seeing faces filled with hope when you walk in the room and then seeing the light in someone’s eyes as you destroy it faster then a boot can kill and ant.

Today these words were spoken to my cousins about their mother. My Aunt Marie was the most favorite of my aunts because she was so kind and loving. She always made me feel special and loved. She had my wedding shower at her home so both my mother in law and my mom could invite all the people they wanted. My cousins already lost their father and now they are losing their mother. Their kids will not get to know my aunt the way I did or her kids did. They will never hear her great stories or taste her home made pierogies (although my cousins make them well so maybe they will get to taste them after all).

I am so mad at God right now I could spit. I don’t deny His existence but right now I wish he would end mine. I’m tired of losing family. In a few days I will lose my aunt. My cousins will lose a mother, and four grandchildren will lose their grandmother. Where is the righteousness in that?!

Aunt Marie and Family

My Aunt Marie is the third one in from the right. This is her with my cousins Kim, Steph, and Peter and their husbands, wife, and grandchildren. WHY?! Why God Why?!

Life Goes On

So it’s been a few weeks since my father in law passed away and I am doing a little better. I can’t say the same for my mother in law, but she’s taking it day by day. The evenings are hardest for her and it truly sucks I can’t do anything to ease the pain.

This latest death has me thinking, really thinking, about my life. I mean let’s face it, anytime someone close to us dies or even a favorite celebrity dies,  it makes us consider our own mortality.  If I were to drop dead tomorrow for some reason I’d like to think I left behind a legacy of kindness, support, and genuine love for those I encounter. I would like to be remembered as a patient person, who tried to never give up on others, even if I didn’t extend that courtesy to myself.

The truth is, I don’t know how anyone else sees me. And you never really can truly know because most people aren’t going to say to your face the things they really truly think. When I look deep into myself I see a lot of fear. I see so many chances not taken in order to have a sense of safety. But in that safety is disappointment, and it’s not a fun place to live. I want to be bold. I tell myself to fling myself head first into something, ANYTHING, at this point because I am not really living so much as existing at this point. But then fear tells me no, don’t do that, you’ll get hurt, you will fail, people won’t like your idea or you. And I shrink like a flower caught in a cold breeze.

I recently read a book called My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock. It is a fabulous read about a young lady, much like myself, who is constantly living in fear of doing anything. So after seeing a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt in a local cafe (“Do one thing every day that scares you.”) she takes it as a personal challenge to do so. She takes acrobatic classes, she swims with sharks, and she does a lot of other little things. The book culminates with her climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.

Until I finished the book I did not realize that this was a memoir and that this was a real person that did all of these things. For about five minutes I thought about doing something similar. But after those five minutes, financially and physically I realized that tackling some of my fears would be next to impossible. Still it got me thinking that maybe it’s time I just tackle some of them. I can write and submit my stuff to places. I can reconsider school again. I can reconsider becoming a foster parent again. Maybe I can’t do one scary thing a day but I can do some scary things.

So with that I will say my goal for the rest of the year is to simply try. Try to do some things even though they are terrifying. Put myself out there just a bit more. We shall see what happens.

eleanor

Death Can Be Brutal and a Blessing

On March 21st I woke up and got ready for work. As I was getting ready to get in my car my mother in law (who lives around the corner from my husband and I) asked me to check on my father in law who was not feeling well. She said if he seemed really bad to call 911 and have him taken to the hospital.

My father in law’s health has been declining for some time, but he has been really bad the last month or so. He had a stroke 26 years ago and has not been the same since. He also has had a myriad of other health problems including COPD which is from smoking like a chimney and also working on the smoke stacks on the ships while in the Navy. But the thing is, no matter how bad, this man always bounces back. Maybe not as strong, but he always somehow manages to do it.

So here goes me thinking I’ll be in and out and on my merry way to another boring staff meeting where they drone on about stupid stuff and we all nod and smile as a day is wasted talking about stuff that could just as easily be sent in an email.

I never made it to the damn meeting.

I came in the house shouting my father in law’s name and asking how he was feeling. I think subconsciously when I first glimpsed him sitting on the couch I knew because I froze, calling his name a few more times. He did not greet me with his usual “same shit different day” when I asked how he was feeling. He did not move, he did not respond, and he had no pulse.

So I called 911 for help. They told me to get him on the floor and do CPR. I got him on the floor but on his side and could not move him to his back. Dark red blood oozed out of his mouth and that was when I started hyperventilating and freaking the hell out for real. The 911 person told me to go get a neighbor so I pounded on my neighbor’s door like a madwoman and begged him to come help me move my father in law.  He came and then the paramedics came and I was doing CPR and then they took over and told me to give them a minute and leave the room.

Five minutes later they told me he was gone.

My husband was asleep and did not pick up his phone after 10 tries. I called my mother in law at work and told her to come home. She asked why and I couldn’t tell her. I didn’t want to be the one. She said she’d be home in 20 minutes. My husband and her showed up about 45 minutes later. I didn’t know what to do. There were police, ambulances, coroners, medical examiners, and a host of other people in the house. The undertakers from the local funeral home came about an hour later. We had to go to the funeral home a couple of hours after that.

I had to sit and listen to the police tell my mother in law and my husband what happened. I watched as they cried and held each other. I listened as my mother in law called my husband’s brother and sister and told them. There was screaming, crying, and plans made.

And now we are here. Ten days later and it all feels like it happened two seconds ago. The funeral was nice and he was buried in a veterans cemetery. There was a 21 gun salute which was a little frightening. My husband and his brother each received one of the shells. After the service we went to my sister in law’s house where there was more food then a hundred people could eat. People came and went. Some of my husband’s friends came. None of mine did mostly because it was a work day.

I remember feeling very sad when my parents died. I cried for weeks and months and eventually it became easier to breathe. But with my father in law I don’t feel sad so much as happy for him. He was stuck in a body that would not allow him to do all the things he wanted to do. He couldn’t use his right arm at all and his right leg just kind of dragged because it was painful for him to walk since he had broken his leg several months ago.

I bet the first thing he did was dance, jump and leap when his soul left his damaged body. Then he probably asked God to give him some projects to do because he was very good with his hands.

Can you imagine being stuck in a body that does not allow you to do the most basic things like holding something in both hands. To have to use a cane that further limits you because now you can’t even hold a cup in the good hand? To be constantly depressed because you see how hard your wife works and you can’t do anything to help her?

My father in law could be downright mean and cruel at times because the part of the brain that tells you “don’t say that” was damaged so he kind of just said whatever he wanted to. But underneath all the brashness and the sarcasm was a man who loved his family deeply. Heck he even allowed me to use power tools and taught me how to hang a picture on the wall and make sure it was level.

I will miss my father in law, but I am glad he’s free.

Save A Place For Me By Matthew West