I’ve decide that maybe my next tattoo should be the word “perseverance”. Which defined means “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty”. Because things have been difficult for me and my family lately. Yet somehow I keep plodding along. I don’t know how I do it much of the time but I know God has a hand in it.
I spent much of last summer in bed in pain bc of complications from breast cancer surgery three years ago. To hopefully ease my pain, I had major nerve surgery in mid-October then just ten days later my father died rather suddenly. Just over two weeks later, as my brother and I were planning my dads funeral, I was alerted that my mother had been taken to the ER and was being transferred to a room. Later a doctor called me to ask me if they could intubate my mother to help her breath. Well you can imagine my shock.
I didn’t underand what was going on but because I was at least two hours away I agreed to the intubation. I was freaked out. How could this be happening just weeks after my dad passed away? My parents had been divorced for nearly 40 years so it wasn’t out of sorrow that my mother became ill. It just happened.
We rushed to get some things together in a bag and my husband and I made a beeline for Pennsylvania where my mom has been living alone (though I’ve wanted her to live with us or much closer to us). I hadn’t been up out of bed much since my surgery and hadn’t been traveling well in the car but off we went. I had pain meds thankfully.
What I kept trying to reason was-why. Why all of this all at once. Why the shit storm -as some have called it- it just doesn’t make sense. I just couldn’t grasp it and I felt like I was drowning. I can’t lose both parents in mere weeks apart. My mind can’t handle that. I feel like I still need to be someone’s child. Even if that someone was requiring me to make medical decisions for them at that moment.
That’s when Kevin (my hubby) said calmly that we have to take each of these events my pain and surgery, my dads death, and my moms illness as different things. We can’t group them all together as one big bad entity that has happened. It’s hard not to but in doing that I was unable to calm myself. I felt like the world was in Armageddon.
So I began to take each thing as it came. I went to my mother in the intermediate ICU and dealt with that not thinking about the other things that have bombed my life. Even when Kevin got the stomach flu while we were at my mothers in PA and my daughter hit a deer while driving back in MD (humans ok ,car not ok,deer?) I tried to keep everything seperate. It wasn’t easy.
The flu is what took my mom to the ER that night. Her other health issues caused her health to fail quickly and somehow she managed to call 911. Though she doesn’t remember it. I am a woman of faith so I feel that was the grace of God that got her on that phone. I had tried to call her earlier that night but she didn’t answer. So I am thankful for whatever intervention occurred that made her grab that phone.
The first few days my mom was in the hospital were very hard. She was in a ventilator and it was so hard to see her like that. There were so many doctors to talk to and nurses as well. The staff at that hospital were really so great. The doctors as busy as they were spent time with me and helped talk me of the ledge when I wasn’t understanding something or I let my mind get too far ahead. Something I often do.
I thank my husband for helping me compartmentalize the things that were going on in my life. It made me able to cope with my moms issues without falling apart. That man has been my source of strength. He doesn’t even realize it. When I’m just a little hesitant to take the next step he is often able to take it with me so I don’t get stuck.
The one good thing about my mom getting ill -and it’s hard to think there was anything good about it – is that I got moving. I wasn’t getting out of bed enough after my surgery. And having to be up and about going to the hospital and walking all the way to her room and standing more was all good for my healing.
Oh and another good thing is the time my brother gets to spend with my mom. They don’t see eachother often and he was able to come up and be there with her. This is an important thing in building their relationship. We both lost our dad and that left a huge chasm and I think it’s so important that this relationship blossom between my mom and brother. We both aren’t ready to not be someone ‘s child. I’m not ready to be that grown up. I know that.
My mother is off the vent and recovering well. The next step for her will be a big step as she will move in with us as we figure out how this will all work. There are many things to consider and find out in the near future. And I have a funeral and burial for my dad next week and of course Thanksgiving. It’s rather overwhelming. But I will take each thing as a separate thing and deal with whatever comes my way.
Because things could be much worse. We could’ve been burying two parents. And if my mom reads this she will gasp. But we aren’t doing that. We are -very sadly -burying one. But we still have our mom. I realize what could have happened and I’m so thankful for what I have.
It’s been a hard time. And I told Kevin the other day “all this stuff that has happened reminded me that I am strong.”
I think over the summer I began to doubt my strength as I lay in pain and depair. Or maybe it was being chipped away at over the last hard few years. There were times where I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to be here. Pain is a terrible companion. But now I realize I have much to live for. And I am slowly healing from my surgery. And I am getting stronger each day.
I just have to keep going. Even on the hard days. I’ve dealt with so much lately I need time to recover – to grieve and to give thanks. It might be a while before I can take a real breather but I will try each day to spend some time just letting myself have a moment to just breathe and give thanks for what I have and to let myself cry over the loss of my dad. To just let go.
It’s been a hard time and I scarcely can get my mind around it all. I’m happy I found a therapist talk to. It will help I think. It’s an important thing to help me heal. To help me deal with the next thing. Because there are always “next things “.
Perseverance. It means just keep going. It’s a big pretty word. But it its meaning is simple -but sometimes -so hard to do.
I sure am trying to do it.
Photo: My moms dog Suki.