I don’t know if the old adage applies to writing or not – you know the one – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?
It’s been a little over a week since I drained my heart and wrote my Thanksgiving article. At the time, genuine in my appreciation for all the good that has come out of this experience. Unfortunately, those feelings have left me and I am nothing but an empty shell of bitterness and frustration. As drained as I feel, I should have lost 50 pounds but I see this morning that I have gained 3 pounds in as many days.
We finished watching 1883 last night and I think I drew more from that series than Yellowstone. Now as I write, I think of the gravelly voice of young Elsa, the badass daughter of James Dutton. I can only fantasize that the words I write would be as profound as the words she spoke in that show.
The show documents the trials and tribulations of a girl coming of age while her family travels cross-country in search of a brighter future in a new land. She experiences the worst of the worst, and the best of the best. I don’t want to ruin it for those that haven’t watched but I think Sam Elliott’s character summed it up best when he told her father, played by Tm McGraw, that she had lived and done more in her life than most do in a lifetime. It was a most brilliant 3-4 sentences that I wish I could recall in exact. She was a force to be reckoned with. There were no secrets with Elsa. She was an incredible character who was a ferocious fighter and a passionate lover; all by the time she reached the age of eighteen. I want to be her in my next life.
There are so many things I wish to tell you but cannot. My husband is a very private man and accepting my writing to the general public has been a stretch. Who knows, maybe some of these darker moments of our experience will become chapters in the book I hope to write in the future where only readers that commit to the whole story will find a few hidden gems.
He continues to find sleeping difficult. It’s nothing to hear him up at 3 a.m. moving about. Spilling his water on the nightstand and struggling to get it mopped up. This morning he was up at 5 a.m. turning on the lights and rustling about the kitchen; making coffee that normally is cold by the time I get up. I’m not a morning person. I try hard to be; particularly in the fall when the temperatures are just right but at this time of year when mornings mean 19 degrees and pitch dark until 7:40 a.m. I see no purpose in getting up at 5 a.m. Today I was just plain wide awake. As expected, we sat watching television until he fell asleep around 7 a.m. leaving me to spend more time alone watching whatever show he had on at the time.
Friday night was our friends annual Christmas party. It’s always a good time with a great bunch of friends that I was looking forward to seeing. Still as Friday approached, I sensed that he was nervous about being with so many people. Commenting that it would be difficult to go to a party where everyone was drinking and he was not. The closer we got to Friday, I lost all energy or interest to make the hour drive to the party. Knowing he would not enjoy himself and that I would end up being the one to drive home when he was ready to leave early. Answering so many questions and trying to appear happy and upbeat.
I’m tired. I’m tired of not sleeping all night. I’m tired of being the one that is responsible for everything. I’m tired of all the same stupid shows on television and constantly picking up after both of us. He tried helping with laundry and that resulted in him washing his phone which meant I had to add filing an insurance claim for the phone and getting the new one set up with the representative. I’m tired of being strong and upbeat and positive.
So many well-meaning people have been reminding me to take care of myself. I’m afraid after a life-time of being a people pleaser, I really don’t even know what that looks like. Given a few hours of time, I don’t know what to do with myself. I look at the ever-present “Things to Take Care of” list and see that there’s really nothing on there that can’t wait another day. So, then what; the best I can do is pop in a piece of toast and sit down and write. Hoping that as it has worked in the past, I can write all my toxic thoughts and move forward. Leaving it all out there for you to read and digest with me. Printed proof that I’m not this wonderful, amazing person that you all comment about. That I’m actually ungrateful, self-centered and mean.
I look back and I see that it was June 10th that I wrote of feeling alone; that while I should be glad that he was alive I still questioned that he was really still with me. Back then the pain was consuming him and he wasn’t present. Nearly six months later, with his transplant behind him he is no longer in pain but he’s still not “back”. I think my frustration and sadness now revolves around my fears that he will never really be back. As if the chemotherapy has stripped him of his dignity, his passion and compassion; his sense of time and common courtesy. He is numb and has no spirit. That twinkle in his eye that told me he loved me without words is gone. The fact that he has no interest in holding my hand or putting his hands on my shoulders to comfort me even when I express the need for it.
I know that I need to be patient and more understanding of all that he’s gone through but it’s hard. I’m not a patient woman. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people caring for people for years on end. That requires more than I have in me. It’s been an entire year since he felt good and was the man I fell in love with and married. It’s been an experience I know he doesn’t deserve so I’m left feeling like it must be my punishment for the life I’ve led. The hurt I’ve inadvertently caused others. When will it end?
I think maybe we put too much emphasis on our 100-day goal. The illusion that there would be light at the end of the tunnel once we reached that mile-stone. Yet here at day 108, it feels as if nothing has changed. We are still waiting for things to feel more like they used to. Instead, I think I have to realize that nothing ever will be the same again and I’m not ready to accept that.
Life has it’s way of sending you signs when you need them; reminders of a bigger picture and a power greater than you and I. A cardinal just landed outside the window, as if to stop and tell me something. Maybe a reminder that it could be so much worse. Telling me to that I need to put on my “Elsa” pants and keep going. For better, for worse; in sickness and in health.
Post script: As I sat rereading and making adjustments to this; my phone rang and it was a friend that I hadn’t heard from in months. She said she just had a feeling that I needed a call. Explain that…..