Life has, in some ways, been a bit crazy around here, in the last several weeks. There have been a few days in which I've felt like I simply cannot keep my head above water.
For instance, on a recent lunch break, which is 30 minutes long, I dropped a few things off to a friend, and ran through a drive-through to grab lunch. While I waited to place my order, my mother called me. She could not remember how to turn on the dryer. Frustrated with the effects of Alzheimer's, she began sobbing, "I hate that I'm so stupid." A perfect time for the voice on the fast-food intercom to scream out "Can I take your order?"
I calmed my mother, and assured her that she is not stupid. But what could I say? Is any semblance of "it's a disease; you are NOT stupid," any consolation? It seemed to be, along with poo-pooing the importance of turning on the dryer, when I could be there right after work to turn it on myself, and then we'd go out to dinner, ok?
I got off the phone and called my sister. Maybe she could call Mom also, say "hey," lift her spirits. She answered, and to my "whatcha doing?" she informed me that she was in the hospital getting a blood transfusion. Chemo is kicking her ass, she can't stop vomiting, and she's lost 19 pounds in 12 days. She was bored, though, and wants to know why I called, in the middle of the day.
Hm. Do I, at this point, follow up with "Can you give Mom a call and cheer her up?" After hemming and hawing, I did, and hung up thinking, "well, that was insane," and I went back to work crying a little myself.
That was just 30 minutes of one day. Most of the other minutes for several days around that packed an equal punch—busy or stressful or both.
Well-meaning friends give me advice about taking time out, doing something for myself, putting a vacation on a credit card. I'm perplexed. I want to ask them if, that if people they love—say, their kids, their spouses—does it matter who?—if people they love were really sick or distressed, if they'd really feel better if they hopped on a plane for a week in the Keys.
All of this "for my own good" advice only adds to the stress of my day; I have to make excuses, and smile graciously, saying no, and upsetting the very people that lecture me "you're going to have to learn to say no."
Here's something: SPARE me the advice and OFFER to drop off a gallon of milk or a casserole to my mom. Guess what? I HAVE taken a few weekends off, and I PAID someone to stop in on her, say hello, take out the garbage, and call me with a report, so that I could hightail it back home if things were awry.
In the meantime, don't tell me what to do. I'm doing what I have to do right now: I'm riding out a few tough days. When I'm 90, I'll look back, and say "whew. Those sure were a few tough days."
But still I reiterate: the positive aspects of my life outweigh the negative. I love my family. I love a good man, and I love his family. We're building a house, and dreaming about the future. I have good friends, a roof over my head, an automobile that runs, and have so far made all the bills in a tough economy. I'd still die for my own kid in a heartbeat. That I work to help his comrades, their families, and vets that served before him is one thing that keeps me sane, no matter that I put the vacuuming on the back burner to do it.
What I meant to write when I sat down here, is that there are beautiful days. Beautiful evenings. Beautiful weekends. My mother has good days. We've arranged our schedules so that I drop off groceries, and then we can play instead of shop. We walk on country roads in autumn air, and we feed apples to horses. My sister feels a little bit better now, and went to a family reunion today. I have a bit of extra time to catch up on chores...or not.
Maybe I'd rather go on a walkabout with my camera, and maybe I do just that.
It is most amazing to feel so grateful for these days. To feel weight off my shoulders, to not have to worry for one evening, and to rejoice without guilt.
These are Count Your Blessings days.
And you can bet your bippy that I do.