Friday, March 21, 2014

Tomorrow

It is Friday night, the eve before I leave California to head back to Colorado.  Two weeks ago today we received The Call and I was here by 2:00 pm the next day, which was as quickly as someone who lives in a rural area almost a thousand miles away could get here.

During that time, I have been able to be 100% fully present for my mom, not an easy task when leaving behind 5 homeschooled kiddos and a hubby.  During that two weeks I have missed four choir and chorus practices, a couple of church meetings, teaching and grading homework for five kids for 6 different subjects, two colds, three cases of stomach flu, one gum infection and cavity, one orthodontist appointment, three food bank volunteer shifts, four TaeKwonDo practices, two track practices, two graphic arts classes, driving six or eight different shifts for work for the kids, income tax preparation, one new puppy dog shower (as in like a baby shower, for a friend), the arrival of friend's new puppy and visit to our house, one toilet leak under the house, a dryer tear apart and vent clean out, 42 meal preparations and clean ups, 20-22 loads of laundry, and preparation for a camp fundraising dinner that was supposed to be mostly my responsibility.

I will be forever grateful to those who helped me be able to drop everything and run, with little looking back.  Friends who hauled kids, helped with meals, spent time with them, and prayed.  A hubby who is God's greatest gift to me and a better wife than I am.  Kids who merrily pitch in, keep a good and flexible attitude, and are the light of my life.  Without Team LaJoy and extended members, this nightmare would have been far more stressful, and I am humbled by the support and love showered on us.

This has been hard, and even harder on mom.  Tonight I left her after tucking her in bed, and I was struck by the vulnerability of any senior citizen who finds themselves unable to take care of themselves, either temporarily or forever.  It is incredibly hard to let go of what was, and face the unknown of what may or may not ever again be. The heartfelt desire to return home to old routines and the familiar is tempered by a fear of being alone and something happening again.  Virtually every single or widowed adult I have met has spoken of that same fear here.

Mom is on the road to recovery, but has several milestones yet to pass. She is making great progress and is settling into the routines of daily life in the skilled nursing facility, but being there is hard on the soul.  That was brought home for me tonight in a profound way as I was bid goodbye by the members of the Outdoor Patio Club.  Oddly, there was this camaraderie that developed in a very short period of time as the long days passed, and I will miss these folks. As I was getting ready to leave, I stopped by Don's door to bid him adieu, and he reached for me to give me a hug, and kissed me on the cheek.  We spoke for a few minutes, and he was having a tough night as he admitted with tears in his eyes, "Sometimes I wonder if I am going to end up dying in this place."  Long months of recovery after multiple back surgeries have left him weary and resigned.  Though the plan is for him to eventually go home, that is not a certainty.  His wife visits almost daily, but it is of little comfort when he just wants his own bed in his own home.  Knowing his wife simply can not meet his care needs at home, he quietly accepts his fate.

Tomorrow will be hard, and the guilt of leaving mom in a place where a strong advocate is needed to ensure her progress and ongoing healing is weighing heavily this night.  Women always feel the need to cut ourselves into parts, like an auto in a salvage yard to be parted out to repair things in several directions.  There are never enough parts of us, it is an age old story, but one I am suddenly thrust into in a new way.

It feels awful, and nothing will change that.

I'll do the best I can, and that's all I can do...just like millions of other women.  It'll never feel right though.

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