Thursday, October 2, 2014

Beginning Again

I’ve been thinking about the last six months of my life, and how they did NOT go the way I thought they’d go. Even though I’d known for quite some time that Ron’s body was winding down, it was still a shock to my system. I’d been on the edge of what I can only describe as a great abyss so many times, only to have a reprieve of sorts. I can’t say for sure how many times over the years that I didn’t expect Ron to survive – but, somehow and by the grace of God, he did. When I actually fell into that abyss, I didn’t know how to react or what to expect. I think I shocked the hospital chaplain because I wasn’t a basket case. Of course, she didn’t know me and didn’t know how many ER trips or ambulance rides or stints in ICU or surgeries or hospital stays we’d gone through. She only could see a seemingly calm (on the outside, anyway) woman who had just lost her husband. I caught her looking at me several times in that two-hour space of time that I sat in the ER cubicle with Ron. Amy was the basket case and I had to be strong for her. I held it together for everyone who needed my strength – as long as I didn’t have to talk about it. For every phone call that needed to be made or that I received, I handed the phone to someone else. I just wasn’t ready to admit out loud (except when absolutely necessary) that the unthinkable, unimaginable had actually happened.

I have many questions that I know will never be answered on this side of Heaven’s door. I know that Ron slipped quietly away in his sleep and that he wasn’t in pain. That part gives me comfort. But, as he was slipping away did he have any conscious thoughts that it was time? I know he was ready to go and had said as much the night before. Did he understand that I didn’t want him to go? That I wasn’t ready for him to go? Did he understand that I did all that I could or did he think I could have done more? To be honest, I’m still not sure that “I” understand if I did. Could I have delayed the nursing home a bit longer and still maintained a level of care and health for both of us, or was I selfish in my part? I will find that out once I’m on the other side of this life and until then, I have to live with the consequences of my actions – always wondering if I could have done just one more thing. I’m not looking for sympathy or for anyone to qualify what I did. Because I was the one responsible for Ron’s wellbeing, it had to be my decision. He was beyond making rational decisions – even though he sounded perfectly fine and rational when speaking, he really didn’t see the bigger picture. The disease processes had robbed him of “himself” and the ability to comprehend the what if and what could have been scenarios.

This blog has served as a means to communicate my fears, his challenges and victories, and mine. There were times that I know I sounded crazy, nuts, selfish, resentful, and mean-spirited. When I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I admit those feelings were present at times. Many times I felt things that, although normal for a caretaker and someone grieving the loss of independence – whether your own or that of someone you love, weren’t pretty or flattering. Sometimes writing down those feelings helped to get through them. I had my share of pity parties. I had them for me, I had them for Ron, and I had them for the kids/grandkids. One of the things that I remember very clearly was early in the multiple surgeries to try and save Ron’s right leg. The toilet was clogged and I wasn’t strong enough, nor did I have the right tools, to do what needed to be done to clear it. Ron was no help because he was tied to the wheelchair. I had no “man” I could call on because I just didn’t have anyone. I sat on the wheelchair ramp in the garage and just cried. And cried. And cried. (I still feel sadness for that hopeless and helpless person.) My brother asked me one time if I felt a sense of pride once I accomplished a “man job” and my reply was that I did not. Accomplishing those manly, husbandly tasks meant that my husband was slipping farther and farther away and as I took on those roles, he knew that he was slipping away.

My oldest son didn’t live close, my youngest son really didn’t know any more about taking care of things like that than I did (and he didn’t live with us, either), and the only two people who could have helped make a difference for me didn’t realize that I could have used help. I was very proud and, as such, didn't feel comfortable asking for help. I wanted people to care enough to ask if I needed help. Without realizing it, I was holding them to standards they didn't know existed, and that wasn't totally fair to them. On the other side, the times I did ask different people (who had said "let me know if there's anything you need), what I got back was, "God bless you." That's not really the help I was looking for. So, I no longer asked or assumed that someone would get the hint and volunteer. (This was before Amy met Rex.) So, yes – I resented those times. But, did they make me stronger? I don’t know – probably. Over the course of the next several years, a clogged toilet was one of the milder issues that we faced and overcame.

As I look back, I can see so many instances that were “close calls” and so many that just became routine – our new normal. We were constantly adjusting what was a normal day in the life of Ron. And for me.

Now, it's time to begin a new chapter. I was going to stop using this blog but I think I'll keep it open and take it in a new direction. I also want to change the name to be more fitting. I'm not sure exactly what yet, but something that includes beginning again. I hope that you'll continue to read and cheer me on from the sidelines.

Take care and God bless... You've all helped me get through more than you can ever imagine.


1 comment:

joanne said...

I found you! I saw a partial post a few days ago and then it disappeared before I had a chance to read it. I'm so glad to see you blog again. Sometimes we get so involved in out blog-friends lives that they become part of the everyday and we wonder how is so-so doing? Then they disappear and stop blogging and we are left to wonder what happened to them. I was thinking of you and took a chance that you still were at the same address. I like the new name, you will find the new normal for you and I know that you will find a way to remember the good times you and Ron shared and the end times will become lesser. take care and remember I'm out here and I can 'listen' pretty well.