You’ve been on my mind.
I know it’s been a while since my last posting… frrrankly, I’ve been putting it off because what ELSE’s on my mind would kind of involve spilling my guts, and I’m nervous about losing my balance. (PLUS: a lot of energy/attention is going into Produxion for the upcoming Holiday Markets, taking care of Richard &c; the place)… but here’s what I’ve been mulling over:
Surely you’ve seen them, freshly out and about: a couple, generally older. You notice that the man is impaired somehow, maybe toting an oxygen tank with a little clear tube in his nostril, or with a cane or on crutches, or even in a wheelchair. Perhaps part of his face is unresponsive, or his arm is limp. Maybe he’s got a cloud about him from drugs or their residue. But his attention is right NOW in the present moment, engaged with a mighty struggle to run his body which is suddenly unfamiliar.
And the woman beside him: ah, SHE’s the one who looks dazed, in shock. As well she might!, because her world has turned upside down without hint or warning. The one who opened stuck jar lids, pushed the car out of ditches, hefted haybales, lent a presence of protection and oversight– even earned all the money– that one of the strong arm and comfortingly substantial chest is suddenly replaced by a shadow of his former self, and all those items, activities, responsibilities are now hers and hers alone.
In hospital, all attentions were on the subject of the attack/illness/accident… she, suddenly become main support and 24-hour caregiver, is given no invigorating transfusion, no assessing look, seldom a pat on the back. Yet she is now the Chief Executive Officer overseeing every detail ever after. From where does she draw the strength to carry on? Is it true that the Creator never would hand her a load greater than she could carry?? Regardless of that, CAN she???
Disbelief colors her days.
In this culture, illness and impending death are NOT an item. Few have experienced them, fewer are comfortable around them or even know how to act. (In retrospect, I surely didn’t…)
Friends and neighbors back away rapidly– overly polite, afraid of “interrupting something” with a fonecall, thinking it a one-time event and not grasping its minute-by-minute nature. She knows how busy everyone else’s lives are, does not want to sound complaining, or weak, or needy.
She hunts around for sleeping aids– calcium, magnesium, nervine herbs– whatever will keep her mind quiet, hold at bay those wakeful moments in the midnight hours that extend fed by adrenalin worrying, in the dark where troubles are magnified because their borders are so indistinct…
Really, though, it’s not all that bad. Just at first… One can get used to all sorts of conditions, and the sun does come up every morning, miraculously, shrinking troubles down to pocket size.
This turnabout seems a common event in the lives of women. Guys, tough and resilient as they seem, have an inherent fragility and tend to wear out early. They like to spend it all in great gobs and bucketsful; society, the marketplace and our culture burn them out before their time, and the women, with higher tolerance for pain and deeper reserves, are left to manage what remains.
Grief comes unexpected in small bursts, sometimes for no reason, sometimes for good reason. Despite that, despite everything, though, HE’S STILL HERE, howevermuch of him is left. And the depths formed by new grief can contain, just as easily, far greater joy– an unexpected gift!
Hope you don’t find all this a DOWNER.
It’s just what IS.
Events in our life since Richard’s stroke on 8 April (see ‘Dealing with Bodys’, an earlier posting, and the Hindsight postscript to this that I’m about to write) have certainly caused us to consider stuff that I’d thought would be put off for another quarter-century… stuff like death &c; dying, burial, widowhood, life alone, life without him, what about this amazing high-powered dog we’ve got… there is little that mainstream medicine could do that he finds acceptable. He’s chipper and cheerful most times, most times with little energy, asleep sometimes half the day… in a way, we’re living like russian roulette as his blood pressure tends to be astoundingly high and we’ve found no way to lower it. Cayenne is good, prayers are good, this moment right now is very good, I’m gonna quit now and jump in bed with him for a good nightlong SNUGGLE.
Wishing you the same.
All love and huggs to you…