Breathing

I had a whole other blog post half-written, but when I came back to it, none of the bipolar drama mattered any more.

There was a theme of WANTING this summer, but we all know wanting comes from believing there is a hole in our soul that needs filling.  The cure for wanting isn’t changing our bodies or our location, it isn’t filling that hole with stuff or people.  The cure for wanting is to sit with it, cup it gently in our own two hands, breathe it in and out.  Then, we remember we are whole where and when we are.

I’ve been thinking about turning 60 in a couple of months.  I don’t usually pay attention to birthdays, but this is kind of a milestone for me.  See, I never expected to live to see 60.  In the back of my mind, far from consciousness, I think I was marking time until I made a decision to exit this world.  Turning 60 means I’ve made a different kind of decision.

At first I didn’t think I’d created much of a life—it certainly didn’t look like the life I imagined for myself when I was a girl.  But when one of my mental health gurus said, “I’ve always thought you were good at living,” I reconsidered.

My sister’s husband died three weeks ago after a long illness.  She had been preparing for that eventuality—buying a home in Oklahoma where her son and his family live, clearing out sheds and closets—but the last six months of constant caregiving along with Hospice drained her life energy.

I supported her the best I could.  When the time came, I stood beside her as her husband died and when some of his family members got ugly.  I stood at the graveside with one arm around my tall, cowboy nephew, and the other around his little son, and I felt alive with love for my family. Last week, my sis and I packed our vehicles with the last of her things and caravanned to her new permanent home.

Yesterday I returned to my home of geriatric (and complaining) cats, art projects in progress, the last week of water walking at the Aquatic Center before it closes for the season, watching the addictive drama of Big Brother with my friends, coffee and movies and lunches with other friends, meeting the interim minister at church and volunteering to lead a SoulMatters group.

I think it’s time to give up my hair shirt.  It’s time to embrace the good life I’ve created and allow forgiveness to become part of it.  Today, all I want is to be content, to be grateful.

Breathing in, I choose the Adventure.

♥ ♥ ♥

P.S. Happy Birthday, Richard.

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Calls in the Middle of the Night

handmade greeting cards, collage are, vintage photoHenry had finally re-settled himself after a 4:00AM marching tour of the bed when I heard a weird noise.  I’ve taken to wearing ear plugs to bed—Henry often accompanies his marches with a call to arms—so hearing anything was weird.  Then, I remembered that I’d found a louder ring tone on my phone.  The phone going off at 4AM is not a good sign.

By the time I really roused and fumbled it out of my purse, I’d missed the call.  Two missed calls from my sister, the first one at 2:30.  My stomach knotted.

But checking the messages, it wasn’t the worst of news.  Mom fell at the nursing home and broke her wrist.  Calling my sister back, I got the details.  She fell both going to and from the bathroom.  Big knot on her head and bruised all over, but just the wrist broken.

It was inevitable, this fall.  She gets dizzy suddenly and is not to get up without someone with her.  Early on, Mom was content to let her Depends do their job if the aides didn’t get to her in time.  But, since she’s gained some strength and a little more clarity, she sneaks to the bathroom on her own sometimes.  I sympathize.  I don’t think I could wait and eventually wet myself if the bathroom was just a few steps away.

It’s incredibly hard to accept new limitations.  My mom has always been a strong, independent woman.  She was the driving force in our family, always early to appointments, always referring to her wall calendar for what was next.  Whatever it was, Mom got it done.  I think she’s been remarkably reasonable about her slow recovery from a botched angiogram, but I understand the drive to regain what was lost.  Every few months I get the urge to get a job even though I know I’m not capable of that anymore.  It’s like an amputation.  I feel the phantom sensation and think that limb is still healthy and whole.  The ability to get up and go to the bathroom must seem even more fundamental.

I hope this will be a learning for Mom, a way for her to come to terms with these new limits.  Without the use of one arm she’ll be even more dependent on the care staff.  It’s a set-back for her, but maybe a necessary one.

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