Last night, T told me to get ready. We were going out for dinner. He said with a silly smile that I needed some red meat. Double entendra. Em didn’t have plans, so the girls could stay home by themselves. I agreed that it sounded like a good idea. It had been a hard day. I didn’t feel like cooking. The girls seemed happy at the thought of having us out of the house for a while. They were both occupied with their own things, and seemed to be looking forward to an evening of quiet….without Mom and Dad hanging around the house. While I didn’t feel much like going out, the thought of a juicy steak at one of our favorite spots perked me up a little.
I had been a slob all day. We were heading out for a late dinner by the time I got myself cleaned up and looking presentable. It was nice, though, because the Saturday night rush had already passed by the time we got there. We went to a local favorite. It’s a cozy, intimate place, and has a beautiful evening view of the runway lights at our local (tiny) airport. To top it all off, the food is always wonderful. We enjoyed a cocktail and conversation while we waited for our food. I could already see that this was a good idea as I began to feel myself begin to relax for the first time all day. My friend T. There he was across the table, always knowing what is best for me even before I know it myself.
As soon as my tension began to subside, deep, deep fatigue began to set in. The adrenaline had been replaced with exhaustion. T asked where I wanted to go after dinner, but all I really wanted to do was to go home and go to bed. He tried to entice me with a drive down by the river to look at Christmas lights. Maybe we could stop for martinis? “No, please. All I want to do is go to bed.” I can’t ever remember feeling so wilted. We drove home after dinner, and I immediately got ready for bed.
He was there in bed with me, and I’m not sure where I was. Yes, I was in bed, but I seemed to be floating. I rolled over, laid my head on T’s chest, and hung on for dear life. The headache was back, and I felt like I was swirling and spinning. I was hot and cold at the same time. I was sweating and shivering. Images and emotions flashed at me in my half-sleep. At some point, I fell asleep.
Around 2:30 a.m., I woke up. I was tangled in the covers, and my hair felt damp and stringy. I wanted to get out of bed. I wanted to wander around the house. I wanted to stand and look out of a window. It was December 11. I picked up my phone to confirm the date. There it was, taunting me in the darkness, December 11. I laid there, forcing myself to stay in bed when all I wanted to do was flee. I’m not sure where I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to be there in the quiet darkness with my thoughts. If I got up, though, it would be the actions of a crazy woman. “Normal” people don’t wander around the house in the middle of the night. I flung my leg across T and grabbed his arm. Once again, I hung on until sleep came.
This morning when I woke up, it felt like I had won a battle. I had been victorious. I hadn’t cried. I hadn’t wandered around the house thinking and thinking. I had CHOSEN not to do the things that would feed the fires of grief. Instead of floundering around in the water, I had held onto my life raft.
Today was another sad December 11th. My mom has been moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing unit. It’s depressing, even though the facility is nice. She lays behind a curtain on her half of the room. This is what her life has been reduced to, a room, a bed behind a curtain. As I watched her laying there, mumbling in and out of sleep, I wished for my dad once again. To see her like this would have made him so sad. If Dad were alive, he would have been able to keep her at home. He would have been able to care for her in a way that I am not able. My children, my job, my responsibilities have not allowed me to become the full-time caregiver my dad once had been for her.
I sat with her in the darkened room. I wondered what her mind was thinking as she slept. I hoped that the thoughts in her dreams were better than the reality of what her life has become. I hoped that she was remembering the things that once made her life worth living. We didn’t talk at all today. She drifted in and out, and I sat in a chair…watching and thinking. We had once been a little family, Mom and Dad, and me. Those days have passed. So many things have passed. Too many.
I drove by the old house on my way home from the hospital. I had to stop and go inside. For just a moment, I stood there in what was once a living room. Think of that word! Living room. It was once a place where people lived. It had once been full of life, love, family, and conversation. I gently touched the place where I had found my dad two years ago. I touched that spot, but I remembered other times, happier times, and I was thankful that this is where he had taken his last breathe, in the living room, in a place he loved, in the comfort of his own home.