Hi everyone! My apologies for the mixup in blog posts this morning. I had been going through some old ones that I’d earlier marked as “private” or perhaps they were just meant to be ‘drafts’, and I accidentally published them again for all to see. Unfortunately, some of them are from darker days when I was feeling a lot of anger. So if you got them, and you are confused about the dates or even my state of mind (or even if the link took you to a “missing’ page) I’m sorry about that. The truth is, its been confusing for me to go through some of these old posts too. So many things I would have forgotten about otherwise, had I not recorded my feelings and thoughts at the time. Thank you, dear readers, for bearing with me as I continue to hash through the strange landscape of memory and loss as I gather my bearings of hope in the future.
I have been thinking a lot about this time last summer. This week, we hit the 11 month mark since Vernon died, so we are coming up to the time of year when things started escalating rapidly. There was all that business with the swollen wrist, then arm, then surgery, then the fresh hope of changing doctors and dialysis centers…all spiraling quickly into sepsis, and then palliative care and hospice. There was hardly time, I realize now, to process the rapid changes at all. But as much as I miss his being present with us on this planet (I admit I even miss the loving work of squeezing out as much of his personality as we could recognize while we were with him) and at times, I resent him for unintentionally leaving us father-less and mate-less, I also have to recognize that life is easier now: we don’t have to look at him in such awful pain, we don’t have to feel so helpless toward his recovery, we don’t have to ride the rollercoaster of hope and discomfort. Its a strange thing to admit, but I think the relief is becoming somewhat stronger this summer as I remember those terrible end days. My therapist says this is a good thing, a healthy thing. He didn’t have to tell me this for me to know that is true. With it comes a sensation of dropping gently back to earth.
Here are some excerpts from a post written this time last year that I just re-read called Being Present.
Its been a wild ride with Vernon the past couple of weeks. Dialysis at the new center is going well, though there have been times we need to cut his time short because of his outbursts and impatience. I believe he is off his painkillers now, for the most part, and has been sleeping better at night, according to Joe. His his arm, though still somewhat swollen and deformed, seems to be settling down a little more.
His behavior and awareness still can change by the day. Last week, for the first time, he insisted I look for/order a ticket to England for a day’s visit (he thought we were presently in Japan.) He insisted he could go all by himself. Yesterday, he wanted to fly to America FROM England—this is a more typical argument from him.
In my own life, I’ve been struggling with discontent. Although some people say I “deserve” to have those feelings once in awhile, I don’t like them. They can be other people’s behaviors and attitudes that frustrate me, as well as the injustice of certain situations. I won’t go into detail about all of that, but I’ll admit my guilt in harboring resentment. I’m at a point where I realize I have to deal with some of this and find new approaches to ‘letting go’ for the sake of my own sanity and peace, now and in the future.
I mention this here because I brought a book to read aloud to Vernon this week that I thought also might help me work through some of my issues. Vernon seems to follow abstract thought better than a storyline sometimes, so I figured it was worth a shot. The words seemed to relax him…and I could feel it working on my own mind as well.
Yesterday, I brought the book again, but since he was happy to just listen to music on my headphones, I read it to myself, writing thoughts down in a notebook for later. It was one of the more peaceful days we’ve had, both of us doing our own thing, but together. From time to time, I would look up from my notes and just practice being present with him.
I was able to look past his broken body, his misaligned eyes, his disability, our history, my expectations, our losses and see HIM. All the rest of him, all the MOST of him. I was thinking about how we are so much MORE than our opinions and our plans, our hopes and our fears, our functions and dysfunctions, the way we look, the way we sound. It was remarkable to recognize this wonderful spirit of man sharing the same space as me, while watching his lifeblood literally flowing on the outside of his body through the dialysis tubes. THAT is more who he is than a brain damaged invalid with kidney failure. Talk about an inner life! It’s all on the surface with this guy, if I’m willing to look a little further.
I wrote in my notebook about the moment: “I see you beyond your eyes. I see you beyond your body and face. And I am grateful to be with you here today.”
I smiled at my husband. He looked up at me, smiling dreamily back. He took off his headphones, taking stock of the information in front of him. He said: “I see your ability to read things and write things and collect information. I now see who you are: someone who wants to learn by finding knowledge on your own. Not everyone can do that. You are able to do something that very few people can do. I wonder if I’ve noticed that before. It makes me love you more.”
Now, while I won’t agree that not many people can do this, it was touching for him to express this appreciation back to me, especially since I had just taken the time to really see him. This is the gift of being present with someone. What you give can be mirrored back to you. Two souls connecting despite your differences and disappointments.
It was a powerful experience, enough to help me today in the middle of an election cycle that has everyone feeling they are right and therefore others are so wrong. It’s the dialogue of dissent and it’s very hard to avoid, especially if you feel passionate about certain issues. But I am going to try to practice looking beyond all the things that identify us to each other. I know this is possible. And that love and joy and peace can be found there. We are more the same than we are told. We are each souls. We are children of God. We have more in common than we take time to see…but when we do, it’s very good.
I’m still dealing with my forgiveness issues and my resentments and my pride and my letting go. But I would say yesterday’s experience was worth writing down and remembering. A note to self. People are always bigger and more alive than I understand. May I continue to see that.