Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stumped for a Title...

Well. That was a hurtle, the simple act of committing myself to a title.

I've been absent for much of the autumn. There have been reasons.

In mid-October, I went to Arizona for my parents' birthdays (91 & 87) for four nights and stayed for two weeks. My mother had been taken to Intensive Care the night before I arrived, with fluid in her lungs. Thirty-six hours on a ventilator followed by four more days of intense antibiotics, fluid counts and respiratory therapy saw her released but very weak.

I was very weak. Hospital visits are a balled knot of waiting to go, then, once there, wanting only to get out ASAP. My father, who is blind, discovered a great deal of his helplessness that he's depended on Mom for. He is also a physician & pragmatist.

Last night I made plane reservations for me and Daisy for what is most probably my mother's last Christmas.

Writing and reading those words makes me pause. How do I go on, here and with life?

I've been doing a piss-poor job of life since the summer, cycling in and out of depression & food. After something like two years, my 16 hormones decided to stage a coup last week & I found myself at the drug store wondering what size of tampon was called for.

I find that I wake up with a fair amount of energy & that around 2 p.m. I start to slide down the slope of my despair. It lifts a bit around 7 or 8 p.m., enough to do one errand or chore but also just enough to run over to the deli.

They say the most dangerous time in starting anti-depressants is when they begin to work just enough to give the patient the energy to kill herself. In my world lately, I get just enough energy to poison myself.

It hasn't all been like this, but I knew Friday when I heard people behind me on the sidewalk and I cringed to the side to make sure they didn't have to step out of their way that IT was back.

Today I began a conversation with Judy. I had to think about what I would tell a friend who is feeling the fear of the holidays, a manuscript revision in a time when publishers are thrilled to kill books, and tight finances, with some heavy dollops of guilt and resentment, but first I had to decide who the friend was. I thought of Marilyn Monroe and of Judy Garland, poor souls. I don't think I could listen to Marilyn's breathy pipsqueak, so I decided I would reassure Judy of some things.

"It was huge that you made those reservations, Judy. You know it takes four times as long to do it when you have to book Daisy, too, but you did it."

"Just do one thing that feels impossible, Judy. One thing. Take your pills? Great! Brush you teeth? Amazing! You did it."

You can see where this is going.

My heart, I tell you, is exhausted.

My mother and father are not a perfect mother and father, but they have sheltered me, believed in me, loved me even when I feel unlovable. They called to forbid me to buy them Christmas presents this year but I had already consulted with my friend Ann about what she did when she was facing her mother's last Christmas.

"I bought her a beautiful, expensive gold bracelet. She loved it. I knew it would be mine soon and when I wore it, I always thought of her."

So they will have Christmas presents, whether they want them or not. I probably won't -- Mom is too feeble now even to call a catalogue order in. That will be weird but OK.

I want to make a beautiful Christmas for her. And I wish I'd gotten the china figurine of the penguin mother and hatchling rather than the necklace. It would have better said what I'm feeling.

Or what, for 52 years, I've felt.

Maybe I'll do it anyway.


Lori G. said...

I'm very touched by this post, Frances. I like your friend's suggestion for a bracelet; it's something that your mom can feel next to her and remind her of you too.

You are amazing and it's hard to be strong but you've done a fantastic job of holding down the various dog forts in NYC, taking care of your parents both upclose and from a distance, and trying to take care of yourself. You are a wonderful friend, daughter, sister and all round good person.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so sorry to read this. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time. Take care!
Patt J

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that you are lovable even when you feel unlovable please remember that. I say this to myself as well as to you.

Helen said...

I think your plan for Christmas sounds perfect...it will certainly be a different Christmas, but probably one you will look back on with a smile forever.

Thinking of you and sending hugs

Unknown said...

Just remember that the most important thing you can do is be there and be present. Especially remember it when you're tempted to whip up 500 cookies and decoupage 75 ornaments to make Christmas "perfect." You're perfect enough.

Bea said...

To be without parents feels to me like dangling free in the universe. No more anchors. I guess getting used to and coping with the feeling is maturity. Christmas/Thanksgiving are about connection. Make what connections you can with your parents and you will have the perfect Holiday/s. Take care.

Anonymous said...

This is such a tough passage. You are not alone, but it's not something we talk about very much in our society. Good thoughts and wishes to you and your family.

Annimal said...

When I learned my Dad had died, I felt such a physical pain, I didn't know was possible. As that pain subsided though, my first thought was "I have no regrets" and I meant that. Our relationship was very difficult, but as he mellowed with age we were able to have a loving relationship. The last time I saw him we had a great visit and his last words to me were, "I love you too"
It helps. It helps.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry read that it's been hard for you...but, happy you are sharing.

Do you think it could be possible, just for this time to make a trade-off? Like set one non-food related daily health goal (walking, meditating, massaging your legs etc) in exchange for even noticing what you are eating. I know it seems odd to encourage wayward eating, but it seems that right now self-care that comes a little easier to you is in order...You are resilient, you always get back on track, so what if between now and then you just gave yourself permission to pretend food isn't your issue, isn't your life...no good or bad and no guilt? It is a risk, but if you are eating anyway, then can it hurt...this is a trying time and it seems like taking another route of self-care for awhile could be beneficial..Like at your "despair time" you make sure you are sitting on the same bench in a park deep breathing or have a video planned...so you can surrender to it.

Anonymous said...

Relationships with parents are often difficult even when there is much love. Knowing this may be your mother's last one allows you to shape the time, to intentionally BE there with her and your father. Your presence means more than presents - and having Daisy will give all of you distraction and comfort.

SeaShore said...

I'm so sorry that you are having to go through this. You are in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

we love you frances - keep going - you will win