It’s been awhile friends. I’ve been in a slump of sorts; a perfect storm of grief, holiday frenzy, and sickness. I’ve not been able to get out of myself and share my thoughts, but hopefully, fingers crossed, I’ve turned a corner.
The last time I wrote I really thought I could just make myself move past the sadness my family was struggling with following the death of my brother-in-law. Not that I could forget it, but that I could put it in a mental lockbox and get on with Christmas preparations. And I did to an extent. I decorated and I shopped and I wrapped and I cooked. I did all the required steps to create the perfect Christmas in my home. I hosted the family more than once in the month of December, with all the FaLaLa I could muster. I delighted in the shine in my grandboys’ eyes as the magic of Christmas unfolded. But underneath it all was a bone-tired weariness that threatened to pull me under.
The final chink in my armor came on Christmas Day. We had already celebrated with the whole family and everyone was at their own homes for Christmas morning. Our plan was to show up to see the kids get Santa gifts, followed by a loooong nap that afternoon. We were really looking forward to a day to slow down and experience the peace of Christmas. And then the 7:30am phone call…..my parents had suffered a terrible stomach bug the night before and my mother was calling in great distress over daddy. He was all but delirious. We immediately rushed to their house, followed by a rush to the emergency room where we stayed all day. He was ultimately admitted for two nights and suffered a small stroke due to severe dehydration. They also discovered he had AFib. Needless to say, we missed Santa Claus.
If you have dealt with a parent who suffers from dementia then you will understand the confusion of a hospital stay. It takes an already fuzzy mind and turns it upside down. The 24-hour-a-day lights and sound. The endless stream of ever-changing faces in and out of the room. Doctors speaking rapidly in a language most of us can’t fully understand. All of it works to cause a man with dementia to spiral out of control, not in a combative way, but in a way that leaves him a shell of the man we love. Daddy struggles so to maintain control of his life and this was his second hospital stay in 2 months. He was exhausted and so was I. I just wanted to crawl up in that bed with him and give in to the forces that were weighing on me.
As a side note, this stomach bug made a run through our family, no pun intended. We think it started with little 20-month old Owen. My brother was sick, and both my kids were sick. (Son Garrett, upon arrival in New Mexico, actually greeted his in-laws by throwing up violently in their car…..which was followed up by his and Michael’s home being robbed while they were gone. They might win the undeserving prize of worst holiday ever!) Thankfully, Billy and I never got this particular scourge, but it was inevitable that the anxiety of all that was happening around me finally caught up to my system. I ended up with a yukky cold….the crud, as we call it. Adding insult to injury, I had to miss our after-Christmas trip to my in-laws in Maryland because of daddy’s illness. My brother, obviously still grieving his husband, was making a trip to Texas for a memorial service with friends and family there. We were stretched pretty thin and all trying to keep our chins up. The end of 2019 just couldn’t come fast enough.
My saving grace was a quick trip the first few days of January to see my sister-friends. We had scheduled it about a month before to catch-up and share some time before they both went back to demanding jobs after the holidays. Little did I know how much I would need those days. They enveloped me in that cocoon of love that heals all those hurting places in my heart. (And let me say THANK YOU to a sweet husband who understands this.) I was hoping to come home refreshed and ready to start the new year with a positive outlook. Alas, somewhere in the travel I came in contact with the flu. As I write, I have been home bound for 3 days.
And while stuck here on the sofa I’ve done something I haven’t done in almost exactly a year. I’ve watched old westerns on TV. And that has brought me full-circle. You see, last year I was sick with the crud all throughout the holidays, and spent a week on the sofa recovering. (I see a reoccurring theme here…) At that time my brother Raymond had flown home to San Antonio, but Jesse and Sebastian stayed behind a few extra days. They were not certain then that they would be moving to North Carolina in just a couple months, and Jesse was already not feeling well at that time, though we had no idea he would be diagnosed with cancer in June. But he loved old westerns! So the two of us were couch potatoes together watching Lawman, and The Virginian, and Maverick. We talked about how wholesome these shows from our childhoods were. We experienced a simple camaraderie that gave me new insight into his heart. As I’ve watched these shows again the last few days I think I have finally been able to fully grieve, not only Jesse’s death, but all the trials of these past couple of years, this season of life. And though I know this season isn’t over yet, I’ve made a little peace with it. Here’s hoping 2020 goes just a bit easier on us.