Tag: mom in hospital

Invisible Bruises


Have you ever found the days of a month blurring into each other in a dizzying collection of bright and dark images you can’t dissect or discuss because there’s just too much and not enough at the same time?

Today my mother had beautiful hair and bright eyes and she was wholly herself.  I don’t want her to be disappointed later if she reads this – but I’m scared to believe this bright moment, this evidence of progress.  I have been coming to terms with losing her for the past three weeks, not because I don’t believe she can make it, but because she’s come so close to slipping away more than once.  I’ve been scared to breathe.  I’ve been scared that the prophecies of my early youth for my mother might come true even though there’s no such thing as prophecies or fortune telling and even if there were, I am no seer.

Today my mother was taking charge of her recovery, asking questions, planning for her independence from nurses and IV drips, and pushing her physical therapy as far as she could so she can reclaim her body and move forward.  Her white blood cell count is still high and tomorrow there is a minor procedure that, it is hoped, will bring it back down.  She had some cream of wheat she didn’t throw up by noon.  These are her small triumphs that are really huge.

My friend Sharon cut a small bouquet of roses from her garden for my mom’s hospital window sill that included: one heady scented Oklahoma rose, one creamy delicate Jardin de Bagatelle rose, two small sweet blushed Kaiserin Fredrich roses and a couple of fennel blossoms.  My mom enjoyed every milky petal and inhaled the thick velvety perfume like a proper hedonist.   I know she’s not fighting to get out of that hospital just so she can enjoy bouquets of real roses. She’s doing it because she has a fire to live more adventure, she’s doing it because she wants more time with her children and her grandchild and her sweet puppy and her best friend.

But I think she is also doing it for the love of gardens, of flowers, and for the sensual smell of honeysuckle on an early summer evening.

It’s going to take me a while to unwind from my worst fears.

Sunday has always been the worst day.  The day of empty bells and chimes ringing inconsequentially in otherwise silent towns.  The day of regurgitating overdoses and suicides.  The day of sudden regret and pleadings for mercy.  The day of scraping heart-valves and blind love off the tarry asphalt.  The day of splintered crosses and flagellation.  The day of exclusion and expulsion.

Three Sundays ago my mom went to the hospital and almost died and hasn’t come home yet, 23 days later, and I’m still feeling bruised and scared and breathless.  I’m drinking plenty of beer to hide it.

I suppose I haven’t hidden it that well at all.

Today my mom was better than I’ve seen her since before she was admitted to the hospital and it did my heart good to see her so well.  I am trying not to be superstitious and parsimonious with my hope.  I’m struggling with my need for being prepared and my desire to let go of caution and believe that everything is going to be okay no matter what the data suggests.

Most of you have already gone through what I’m going through with someone you love.  You’ll have your own views and your own bruises.  I haven’t invented the hospital vigil.  You’ve all gone through this with various outcomes.  You’ve struggled with the equation of hope versus superstition.  You’ve struggled with the need to let go versus the need to hold on.  You’ve struggled with guilt over thoughts you worried were disloyal or unworthy.  You have anticipated the grief to come and let go of grief that never came to pass.  You’ve all been here where I am.

You will forgive me, I hope, for writing what you already know.

My mom will forgive me, I hope, for having such a fragile heart.


The Thing About Life

Sutter hallway

The thing about life is that it keeps on moving whether you’re ready or not.

The thing about life is that it’s messy and complicated and terrifying and it doesn’t slow down just because you can’t catch your breath.

I keep asking when my life will settle down into a calm daily rhythm in which we can just enjoy life without struggling with so many messy problems.  I’m having such a hard time accepting that this IS life.  This.  Right now.  Last year.  All the years full of major struggles and problems and disasters that keep on coming wave after wave.  All this struggle and turmoil and shifting and changing and pain?  This IS life.  I keep trying to tell myself that people don’t lead calm lives that sail smoothly from year to year without incident.  It’s what I desperately want, but it’s not reality.

On Sunday my mom went to the ER and ended up getting emergency surgery.  The details of what happened are hers to share or not share so forgive me for not telling you more.  I can say this: one more day without intervention and she would be dead.  She is not out of the woods yet.  My sister flew back from a work gig in Tennessee that she just started so that she can be near mom and help me out with the puppy.

And I quit my job.  My quitting was a choice I made to end a demoralizing waiting game that I’ve been in for over a month now.  Things are changing at my work and those changes don’t include me.  So I quit because my mom is in the hospital and the house situation is therefore slightly suspended and I have my mom’s puppy pissing and shitting everywhere and I need something – ONE THING – to be resolved in a humane and clear manner.  I asked to keep my position for two more months (not an unreasonable request under the circumstances of which I am not at liberty to disclose) but they want me gone by the end of this month.  It was a risk I took by quitting instead of waiting for events to unfold at their own torturous pace.  I don’t regret my decision though, I wish the circumstances were different.

For 4 1/2 years I’ve given 110% to my job which I enjoyed doing and to which I applied my strong work ethic and my team spirit.  And now it’s coming to an end.

So my mom is hallucinating and fighting infection in the hospital and her puppy is shitting and pissing everywhere and my sister has left a temp job she needed to come and be with us and take over the puppy because her big sister can’t fucking handle incontinent hyper needy babies of any kind and I have to find a job in 2 weeks to keep my whole life from falling to pieces.

You know what?  I will DO IT.  I will not let my life fall to pieces because I have my sister’s support right now and she has taken on the enormous task of teaching the puppy the joys of a well regulated clean(er) life* and I am an excellent employee with a fantastic work ethic and I have lots of skills and even if I have to apply them to an administrative job that pays crap – I know I can get a job.  Even in this bad job climate.  In fact – I got a phone interview with Evernote for a job I am PERFECT for and would have been unbelievably excited to take on but they aren’t interested in hiring off-site employees and I’m not interested in moving to Redwood City.  While that was a huge disappointment to me, it showed me my worth.  I got a phone interview with Evernote!!  I’m letting that be a boost in my morale when I’m  being swallowed up by a remorseless cloud of darkness.

I keep emerging from the cloud.  These are tough times.

Don’t ask me how I’m doing.  I’m doing horribly.  I’m pissed off at life.  I’m pissed off at everyone.  I’m pissed off about everything.  I’m pissed off at myself.

The thing about life is that you don’t get to choose the moments when you’re ready to deal with your mother being in precarious shape in the hospital.  You don’t get to choose when one opportunity ends and another begins.  I’m not the only one experiencing constant life upheaval.  We all experience it to varying degrees.  Life isn’t a calm quiet boat ride on still water.  I am not alone in this.  You experience this too.  All of you.  Beings we love get sick and die.  We have our own health to watch over and there are times we get sick.  The healthiest of us are not immune to sickness.  We lose jobs.  Our friends lose jobs.  Our spouses and family members lose jobs.  So I’m not alone on this creaky ship in the storm.  We’re all riding the waves.  Because life isn’t still.  It never stops moving and changing and shifting and rising and falling.

I know what life I want to be living.  I know what I want from it.  I want to be a career novelist who gardens and cooks and does fun experiments in homesteading and hangs out with my weird family.  That’s all.  I don’t need to make a lot of money – just enough.  I don’t need to  be famous, I just need enough people to want to read my books.  I don’t need a whole lot of stuff either.  I need a couple more pairs of shoes and I always need more jars, but I don’t need a lot else.  I don’t desire very many THINGS.

That’s not what my life IS.  I don’t see how my life can become what I want.  Right now I need a job, any job, and most likely I will no longer be able to work at home which means my special needs kid will be a latch-key kid with fewer of his needs being met.  I won’t have time to write any more.  I won’t have time to do any gardening but maintenance stuff like not letting stuff die.  I will cook just enough to keep us from eating out which we won’t be able to afford.  And any extra time I have I will need to give to my family.  My mom will need me more than ever.  I don’t see dreams blossoming in such circumstances.

But you never know.  At least, that’s what my sister says.  She says not to decide my dreams will never happen and not to give up on them.  She’s right, of course.  I can’t know what will happen and it’s important that I don’t shut out possibilities just  because I don’t see how they’re possible.

I’m angry that my life is changing in ways I don’t want.  I’m grieving over it as well.

The thing about life is that it will just keep coming at us until we reach our stop on the line.

I ask myself what I want from myself before I reach my stop and the answer is simple:

I want to look back and see that I never lost hope for more than a day.


*I think it’s important to note that my sister is not a dog person and has no experience dog training and yet she is reading all about it and she’s creating puppy boot-camp next door in my mom’s place and is doing an AWESOME job!!