After the Before

Author’s Note:  Let me preface this entire post with the knowledge that my mom is alive and well and cancer free.  (I hate it when awful stories get told only to find out after all the worrying for the characters that there is a happy ending after all.  I don’t mind those sorts of stories as long as I know they end happily, thus I’m sharing this ending.)  This blog post is a story I wrote my senior year of high school.  It is the only story I’ve ever written where I allowed myself to discuss my family’s battle with cancer. 

When I was about 2 my mom, 29 years old, was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in one of her breasts and the lymph nodes under her arm.  The doctors told her to make peace with the world and that she would not live to see me graduate college, get married, or even start Kindergarten.  My mom is a fighter and she fought her way into the case studies for Tamoxifen (now a standard part of breast cancer treatment) and had chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, and a mastectomy.  She had check ups twice a year for the next five years.  After five years she was pronounced cured.  She continued annual check ups at the cancer center.  After ten years she was pronounced really cured and at some point along the way her cancer was downgraded to a stage 3 (because she survived).  She continued yearly checkups because she had been in the case study.  At year eleven she was pronounced still cured.  Between year eleven and year twelve she didn’t notice but a lump the size of a pea grew under her armpit in one of her lymph nodes. 

At her yearly check up 12 years after she had first battled cancer, the cancer returned.  She was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.  Once again the doctors told her to make peace with the world and that she would still not see me graduate high school, go off to college, or any of the things we had finally allowed ourselves to look forward to sharing together.  They said this cancer was tricky because it had been dormant for 12 years and then become very aggressive to have grown a lump so large in so short a time.  Again, my mom fought with all her strength.  She did more chemo and had more surgeries but this time there was no radiation because she had had the largest amount a person can have.  My freshman year of high school was her diagnosis.  My sophomore year of high school was her surgery.  My junior year of high school was her chemo.  My senior year of high school was the waiting and I graduated a semester early and went to community college- just in case. 

The doctors were wrong: she saw me off to formal dances, my first date, graduation, college, moving into a dorm, studying abroad, and recently getting married.  She is one of the success stories and I love sharing the hope that her double cure inspires.  But I don’t like talking about it, or thinking about it.  I still practice magical thinking… if I don’t talk about cancer or think about it then it won’t come back again…. Regardless of what will happen, right now she is happily living her life cancer free and my dad always tells her how she’s more lucky than cats who get nine lives and even more lucky than frogs who croak every night.  We all do the best we can to live life to the fullest because we know how short and precious it is.  Enough commentary. The story:

 

After the Before

***

After

 

My skin is very white.  When I get cold, my skin gets even whiter, except for the scars.  The scars are vivid, dark, and obvious.  They show up, slashing across my hand and wrist and itching in the cold.  They were not always there.  Before she got sick again, my hands were clean.  Now, they’re stained with my anger.  When we got back to our house, the sickness hovering over each of us, I went into my room, in the closet, and punched my hand through the wall.  Four times.  The plaster exploded around me and chunks of it stuck to the hair on my arm.  I broke two fingers and dislocated another.  I’m still not sure what exactly cut me, but something did.  I had three jagged tears above my wrist and my hand looked like I had lost a fight with a garbage disposal, or put it through a wall a couple of times, which I had.  My parents had to take me to the hospital.  Back to a hospital for more waiting.  The last place any of us wanted to go.  It is always cold in the waiting rooms of hospitals.

 

 ***

Before

It is always cold in the waiting rooms of hospitals.  We are waiting.  The walls are waiting, the uncomfortable chairs are waiting; the puzzle is waiting.  It has been the same puzzle for years.  We are all waiting.  The recycled air drifts around the families and patients too slowly to create a breeze.  The shifting of pain stiffened bodies; turning of outdated magazine pages, and the constant wheeze and coughs of people breathing the stale air are the sounds that fill the space between the floor and ceiling.  I think it is a requirement of working here to have noisy shoes.  Most of the men have tennis shoes that squeak at either the left or right toe.  The women have high heels that meticulously click-click-click their way into your brain behind your eyes.  The clicking is driving me mad.

I tap my foot in impatience.  I restlessly flip through an old cooking magazine without seeing the pictures, let alone the words.  My butt hurts from sitting for too long.  I wish my mom would be out soon so I could move around a little.  She doesn’t usually take so long.  I look at my dad to see if he’s as uncomfortable as I am.  He’s calmly flipping through a Time magazine from September (it’s December now) and has a scientific looking National Geographic waiting on the seat next to him.  I sigh as a squeaky-shoed-college-aged guy dressed in green scrubs hurries past.  He glances at me, keeps walking.  I throw my magazine on the table and stand up.  I restlessly move to the low rounded table with the magazines and grab some that look less painful then some others.

I hear the clicking of the woman who escorts patients to see the doctors.  She walks up, reads a name incorrectly off a metallic stern looking clipboard, walks a few clicks away and says the name again in the same nasal voice.  Some ancient looking, pain ridden patient is helped to their feet by a concerned family member.  They follow the clicking woman down the white hallways past cheerful portraits of wildflowers as the woman makes an effort to create conversation.  Not everything about this place is hopeless; don’t get me wrong.  Laughter sparks from hushed conversations among different people.

As a little child, I used to wander among the people waiting, offering to share my toys and asking if the patient had hair.  I would proudly tell them about my mom, who’s real hair is waiting until she gets better to come back, who has a very pretty collection of hats and a fake head to hold her pretend hair while she’s not wearing it.  I would tell them about how if I was good, I would get to borrow some hats.  I would smile and tell them about the secret stash of hot chocolate I could get from the nurses and offer to get them some.  Sometimes, I would bring water to my parents, and read a magazine with my dad while my mom was seeing the doctor.

There is hope to be found, if you look for it.  I didn’t notice as much while I grew up, as I do now.  Now, it seems much more important, not only to me, but to my family and to the families of other patients as well.  Without hope, there would be only sickness, and that is no way to live.

Besides hope, there is also tired and old and the waiting.  That was mostly what I noticed then.  Everyone who’s here, except for the workers, seems old.  I, at 17, am old.  I have been old since I started coming here with my family at 6 years of age.  The waiting has that effect on people.  As the minutes march into hours and the hours multiply, I begin to get nervous.  No, not nervous.  Anxious.

Anxiety.  It feels like it blasts from nowhere.  It tackles you.  Slam!  You’re floored.  There is a four hundred pound sumo wrestler sitting on your chest.  He’s sweating on you.  You can’t breathe.  You can’t move.  You’re stuck.  Your vision clouds with a black smoke of panic.  Your heart tries to beat its way out of your ribs.  Your hands tingle.  You’ve lost control.  Slam!

If that analogy does not work for you, imagine this one.  Picture a wicked May pole- something that can stand straight up with the support of tautly pulled strings.  Now, replace the May pole with a knife, a very sharp, very pointed knife with a very shiny, very black handle.  Attached to the handle are strings of barbed wire.  The knife is slammed into your breastbone hilt deep.  The barbed wire is injected into various places across your chest.  Now, as you become more anxious, the knife is twisted and pushed deeper into your chest.  The barbed wire is pulling parts of your chest towards your heart, while the knife is brutally twisted, making a tight circle in the bone and muscle.  Your world narrows to this pain.  There is no literal knife, so you can’t bleed.  Instead you sweat.  It’s as if you just washed your hands, but didn’t dry them and instead of water and soap, it’s salty sweat.  Your brain focuses only on the pain; it can’t control your vision, which quickly fades to black.  Rapidly you lose control of your hands.  They become a tingling sensation too far away to control.  This is anxiety.  This is what I feel.

This is what I feel now.  Now is Friday afternoon at 4:00 on December 16th.  I am down in the city with my parents sitting in a section of the hospital.  The cancer ward.  I’m not sure that “ward” is the correct word, but it fits.  I watch my mother’s doctor stride by followed by a flurry of college students who wish they were her and had her job and are as good as she is.  It is almost funny to watch because they almost always tower over her.  She is tiny.

Everything about her is tiny; she is, after all, only five feet one inch tall.  She clicks her pen in time with her heels as she enters the room.  Her starched white doctor’s jacket hangs precisely to mid-thigh.  The long sleeves are rolled to create cuffs revealing a very expensive looking shiny gold watch on her left wrist.  The color nicely matches the gold of her wedding band as it reflects light off the diamond of her engagement ring.  Her pressed khaki pants have matching creases running up the sides of her legs.

Her hair is short; it balances upon the tops of her ears and carefully lay over the top of her forehead and plays with the collar of the jacket at the base of her neck.  Each piece seems to be hair sprayed in place to create the least possible disturbance to the patient while still managing to look styled.  Her thin steel framed glasses perch on the bridge of her tiny pointed nose.  Behind them, her eyes are tough and by looking into them you can tell she’s spent many years watching patients die.  Despite the hardness in them, there is also kindness.  She isn’t a touchy feely doctor who will hold hands in a circle with her patients and sing Kuhm By Ya.  She is a good doctor though.  The best.  That is one of the things I like about her.

Maybe I also like her because when I was a child I could look her in the eye.  She seemed to be on my level despite her constant shuffling through color coded pages on her clipboard to check and cross reference her ideas and comments, even though she was right.  She was always right.  Even with all her knowledge, she always had time for a child and that made her special.  I respect her more then any other doctor I’ve met, believe me, I’ve met a few.

 

 ***

Somewhere in Between

 

I knew something was wrong as my dad and I walked into the confines of the stark white walled room.  Even before Is aw my mom, I could tell she’d been crying.  The doctor’s face was grim.  I didn’t know what grim meant before I’d seen that face.  Grim.  The eyes were forcibly opened by sheer will, they were gleaming with unshed tears; the lips were pressed firmly together, perhaps to keep from speaking the truth and making it real.  The color was gone from her face and her hands were shaking.  I had never seen her like that.  She had always been cheerful and relaxed during the family information time of the checkups; then again, my mom had been healthy for the last twelve years.  I had seen at once that everything was wrong.  My anxiety tackled me again but this time I had to keep it in check because to be anxious was to admit something was wrong.  I had kept trying to tell myself everything was fine, even though I knew it wasn’t.  My whole world was collapsing.

Looking back I don’t remember the words.  The doctor drew an elaborate complicated drawing on the sanitary paper covering the examining table that we took home and explained to the relatives and friends while they tried not to sob.  I remember I knew everything was wrong.  The doctor’s eyes were crying, but she was not allowed to cry.  My dad became stoic and I could tell he was broken, but for my mom and me, and for himself, he had to remain strong.  I felt like my entire life had been in a shoebox and suddenly, for no reason I can understand, someone had taken the box, violently shaken it, and had tossed the contents out into a stream of whirling chaos.

The ceiling vaulted away from me, the walls leaned in to take its place.  Everything shrunk and expanded.  Reality was far away.  It was outside of us, outside the room, outside of the cancer ward, outside of the hospital.  Chaos remained.  Chaos with the name of cancer.

As we were leaving, the doctor walked us out.  My mom went to wait outside while my dad got the parking slip endorsed.  The doctor was talking with him.  As my dad started to leave I couldn’t move.  I had to hear it from her.  I had to understand.  I needed her to tell me it wasn’t real.

“So… so does this mean my mom’s cancer is back,” I asked.  I tried to look her in the eye but I couldn’t see through tears I refused to shed.

“Yes, I’m sorry.  It does.”

 

“When” We Children, Not “If” We Will Have Children

I don’t like going to the doctor.  In fact, I’m pretty terrified of going to the doctor.  I hate needles and hospitals and doctor offices.  Since I hardly ever go to the doctor, when I do go it’s because I’m really sick.  Consequently, the doctor always tells me I’m really sick.  So then I don’t like going to the doctor because they always tell me I’m sick… I’m terrified that I am going to get cancer because my mom had cancer and I’ve just always thought that I would get it too. I do not have the most healthy way of looking at doctors or getting sick but it is something I have been working on improving.  My husband knew about my loathing of all things medical before we got married.  After we tied the knot we sat down and I really explained to him that I was terrified of getting cancer, rational or not it has been a fear that has governed every medical interaction I have had since I was 16 at least…  He pointed out that not all cancer is hereditary and that I have lived a very different lifestyle then my mom.  Also, no one else in my family has cancer so the situation might not have the odds I’ve always feared.  After that talk I realized that whether I end up getting cancer or not is actually not the main issue.  The main issue is whether I am going to take care of myself or not.  I want to be a strong, healthy partner just as I expect my husband to be a strong, healthy partner.  That means we both needed to reevaluate our feelings about doctors.

I started with the dentist.  I’ve had a cracked tooth (rear molar) for a couple of years and have never gone to the dentist to get it fixed.  I’ve literally just chewed on the other side of my mouth.  For years.  So I scheduled myself a dentist appointment and even showed up.  I found the dentist by doing lots of online research.  I found a place that specializes in “gentle dentistry” aka people with dental phobias or who have really sensitive teeth.  After finding that place I compared online reviews with lots of other places who specialized in the same thing.  I found the one that was ranked the highest and made an appointment.  It ended up being really great!  The dentist and dental assistants, even the lady at the front desk, all listened to me and explained things when I told them if I knew what was coming I wouldn’t jump.  It was a really positive experience.  That turned out to be good because I’ve seen a lot of them since then and I will continue to do so.  When you don’t go to the dentist for 5 years or so except for that one root canal you couldn’t avoid… your teeth will probably need some work.  My cracked tooth needed a root canal.  I knew that going in.  Turns out the tooth cracked because of the way my teeth connect and I also need another root canal on the same tooth on the other side of my mouth!  That one doesn’t look cracked but actually is down between the teeth.  Oh good… I finally decide to take care of business and now I need $4400 dollars in dental work.  My husband still says it was the right choice.  I’m not so sure.  Meanwhile, I’ve completed the one root canal on the cracked tooth.  It was my third and it was the best root canal I’ve experienced! When my husband gets a job I will schedule the other one.  Right now we just can’t afford it.

So I dealt with my teeth.  The next step is going to a regular physical check up.  I don’t feel quite up for that so I scheduled a lady doctor appointment.  I was only marginally less terrified of this doctor visit then of a normal physical.  I have only seen an OBGYN once and that was eight years ago.  I conducted research to find the best doctor covered by my insurance.  Then I needed to decide if I wanted a doctor that was just a GYN or one that was also an OB.  I decided on the OB because if we decide to have kids and I like the doctor then I don’t want to have to get a new one.  So, I went to that appointment today.  It was not nearly as awful as I was afraid.  I cried twice when I asked the Big Questions that have scared me for years:

1) Do I have the breast cancer gene?

2) Can I have children?

These questions have plagued me for years and I have been too scared of the answers to ever ask them.  The good news is that I can have children! The other good news is that it seems unlikely that I have the breast cancer gene because of our family history.  The bad news is that to really be sure I will need to ask my mom to get a genetic screening and then get a screening myself for comparison.  That doesn’t seem likely because of her own relationship with doctors.  The other questions I had the doctor answered as well.  In fact she took the time to go through each question on my list I brought and patiently answered everything.  In my experience doctors seem more apt to prescribe a pill, let the pharmacist go over it with you, and move on then they are to sit down and talk with you about what’s going on and what to expect.  Key take away from my visit:

Condoms are only 85% effective!

WTF?!?!?!?!  I told the doctor that I thought they were 99% effective and she smiled and asked if I liked the show Friends and learned that from Ross and Rachel’s experience.  (I DID! AND I NEVER KNEW THAT FRIENDS WAS WHERE I HAD GOTTEN MY CERTAINTY THAT CONDOMS WERE 99% EFFECTIVE!!!!) So, turns out we’re REALLY lucky that we haven’t had a pregnancy “scare” because, you know, we use condoms.  Speaking of babies…

My husband almost caused me to crash my car when we were driving back from our honeymoon last November because he said he could picture us having kids “next year.”  For the record, that “next year” is five months away!  With that comment he had moved from how we had been talking about kids: “someday, maybe if we have kids” to the concrete near future certainty about kids: “I can see us making a baby at this time next year.” That was a big startling revelation in our relationship and we have been having an ongoing conversation about kids since then.  It’s like suddenly with that one conversation he gave me Baby Fever!  I had never been partial to babies, not that interested, babies were still hypothetical in my future.  Suddenly I see babies and I’m like “AAAAAWWWWWWWWWW! LOOK AT THE WIDDLE TOES!” It’s been a struggle to keep my anxiety and fear at bay because they are so wrapped up in my thoughts about having kids.

Since I’ve always believed I would get cancer, I haven’t wanted to have any children because I don’t want to put them through what I had to go through and I don’t want to put my husband through what my dad had to go through.  Also I’m terrified about how the world is a dark and scary place and how can I bring an innocent child into that?  And what about if the child has a birth defect or a disability or grows up to become a serial killer?!?!?!  And what if I go crazy and then everyone has to deal with crazy me?  And what if something bad happens?  Or what if the baby gets cancer?

I’ve been carrying around all these worries and what ifs for years and I’ve never let myself really consider having a child because all these dark thought were between me and the thought of me having kids being possible.  My husband has dutifully talked through all these fears and more with me and even brought up some of his own… what if our parents try to move in with us to “help,” what if our puppy doesn’t like the baby, what if we lose our jobs and have a baby, what if we want to travel or move across the country?  So we talked about those things as well… and we’ve been talking about these things for the past 7 months.  Finally today I let all the fear and anxiety out at the doctor’s office and shared them with the doctor.  She explained what she could and then patted my hand and told me “you can’t live in the world of what if.  You can’t live in a world governed by fear.  You’ve had some bad things happen in your life.  Some really sad things you’ve had to deal with.  You could use some joy in your life.  Babies bring lots of joy.  It’s ok.  You are a healthy, young, responsible adult in a healthy relationship: go make babies.” And then we smiled at each other.  And I felt this dark creeping cloud that’s been hovering for years just raise up off me while I can still feel it hovering, waiting for me to descend into the dark pit of worries and what ifs, for the rest of today I’ve just been smiling.  I was waiting to make a decision about “the whole baby thing” until I had a sign from the universe.  I don’t know how much more clear the universe can be then having a doctor tell me to “walk thirty minutes a day, take a multivitamin, and make babies.”

I talked with my husband as soon as I got home and told him everything.  We both just smiled at each other and decided: it’s time to invite more joy into our lives and stop letting worries and fear make our decisions for us.  We’ve decided we are going to have a child and now it’s a matter of when, not if.

Ending with Bliss

I’m married!  I’m now RealFirstName RealMiddleName NewRealLastName!!!!  We’ve had such a wonderful journey together and we capped it off with a wonderful wedding!  There were 98 people, a rocking DJ, excellent food, fabulous cake, amazing flowers, and Fiance/Husband!  Now, as I’m writing, I’m SO tired but I want to remember all the fun details about the whole weekend!  I’m not sure where to begin.  I’m so happy!  It was a beautiful ceremony filled with laughter and tears of joy!  Everyone had such a great time.  This event is the beginning of a New Chapter.  This journal is complete and I will begin a new one with my next entry.  This chapter has lasted three years.  I am once again in the space between chapters.  It is the breath before the speech, the start of the road towards happily ever after…

Brightest Side of Bright

So much has happened since my last entry!  (As usual!)  I filed for unemployment for my birthday.  It was extremely hard for me to do it but I’m glad I did because we need the money.  I should definitely have done it sooner!  I have been working for 10 years and never used it and that is what it is supposed to be there for… times when you are trying to find a job and are just unsuccessful. That about sums up what I’ve been going through.

I went on a bunch of interviews but it was all scams, collections, or a pyramid scheme!  I loathe people who take advantage of people who are already down!  I’m trying desperately to find a job and instead of real offers these fake scams keep targeting me and I keep almost falling for them!  It’s awful and scary!

Luckily I went on a real interview with a company that looks really interesting!  The position is an Inventory Administration.  I applied because I seemed uniquely qualified for the position with my past work history and my degree but I wasn’t too excited about it because I don’t want to go back to inventory… But I applied because I thought I could get it.  I hadn’t felt so great about an interview since my first job out of college, the warehouse job! I totally rocked the interview!  And I asked three different ways about the job to make sure it was actually interesting and computer based and not bin stocking or lame.  It really seems like the perfect fit for me!  It uses my degree AND my past work experience!  I’m SO excited!!! They called me back the next day and offered me the job!!!! YAY!!!  It pays a little bit less then my last job but that’s okay because it will not crush my soul!  Also it is Mon-Fri from 7-4!  And I will have my own desk and everything!  And there’s not even a ceiling support column sharing my desk space with me!  It’s a real whole desk!  Also- they are excited about my wedding!!  They wanted me to start that Monday and it was Thursday when they called!  I said yes and still have flexibility with my schedule and have time off for the wedding!  The job is awesome so far!  Lots of learning and organizing and data entry and cycle counts!  It’s like all the parts of my old job that I liked and I get paid WAY more to do it!  I really see this job as a blessing!  For the first time, I can see a future with a company.  I see myself on at least  a three year plan with them  It’s VERY exciting and doesn’t crush my soul!!!  Also, we totally live in the future!  There is some really interesting stuff going on at my company!  OMG! Also, on my 4th day of work, my boss’s boss let me know he volunteered me to look over the GIANT contract proposal people have been working on for months, because, you know, I have a degree in English and do technical writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I WAS BLOWN AWAY by this!  My old jobs never volunteered me for anything positive or interesting!

I’m so happy!  I feel like a champagne bottle filled with joy and excitement!  What an incredibly positive feeling!  Finally, I feel like things are looking up.  I sort of feel like I’d hit rock bottom.  I plan on using ti to build a foundation for my new, more positive, and less stressed future!

Also, I discovered SMASH Books! They are totes fabulous!  It’s like starter scrap-booking for dummies.  And I love it because it is a junk drawer journal that is messy AND beautiful! ❤ So wonderful!

And my cousin is doing so much better!  She’s dealing with stuff now instead of just using distractions to avoid her feelings.  I believe we’re helping each other heal.  I appreciate her friendship a lot and I’m continually surprised by how awesome she is!

Also, she and my future twin planned me an EPIC bachelorette party!  It was super fun!  I dubbed all us ladies the “Glitteratzi” We were!  8 girlfriends plus myself and NO ONE puked, cried, or had drama!!! Everyone just had a fabulous time!  And, I got “exactly as drunk as I wanted to be!” Wooo!  What a party! I was still drunk the next morning at 6am!  LoLz!  I was hungover that afternoon though… ugh!  LoL It was still worth it!

I’m getting married next week! HOLY SHIT! I’m getting married.  Next week! WOW!  It’s hard to believe it’s finally here!  Time seems to have passed very quickly but it is strange because so much has changed in the time I’ve been engaged!  I feel ready for marriage and to “begin” our lives together.  I am also definitely ready for the wedding to be over!  It’s turned out to be nightmarishly expensive!  Also, people have gone crazy about it from the stress.  I just want the spending to stop and the love to flow like it used to!  My poor mom and mother in law… I am saying special prayers for their health and sanity and happiness!  The amount of money we’ve spent on the wedding is staggering…and beggaring… I literally don’t know how my parents have done it!  The final payment for the venue is due a week from tomorrow and we’ll need to “find” another few thousand dollars.

I wish my grandparents could be at the wedding.  My heart aches a bit with their absence.  Lots of other people are coming but I will really miss them.  They have always loved and supported me and Fiance. They actually knew he was the one even before I was ready to admit it to myself.  I hope we can travel like they have.  It is something I aspire to and admire about them.  Fiance and I can’t afford a honeymoon right now.  I had initially thought the wedding would be  a certain price.  It is more then twice that now so there is no way.  Fiance still never got his passport.  I’m still mad about it too…

We are talking about buying a house.  I don’t know if I want one or if I would rather travel, or if I want a newer car… The AC on my car is out.  It will cost $700 to fix.  All the money I’ve dumped into that car… I could have bought something new for sure.  I don’t really have a plan after the wedding past paying off the wedding and not doing more wedding stuff!  Maybe we’ll get a cat… I still would rather have a dog.

It feels like I’m nearing the end of another chapter in my life.  I can see the white space just ahead.  I am apprehensive and excited about it.  I will release the cork and pop/shoot my excitement and my joy into that black space that I can finally see is filled with optimism.

 

I am Strong Enough to Hold How I Feel

I can’t keep avoiding my problems and distracting myself from them.  I need to start actually dealing with them.  My cousin and Maid of awesome had a mental/nervous breakdown.  She started crying on Saturday and couldn’t stop.  Monday, they (Cousin and her boyfriend) took her to the behavioral health center and checked her in.  She is still there.  She will be there until Tuesday.  She has anxiety and PTSD and depression.  I’m so glad she is getting the help she needs!!! I’m proud that she was strong enough to get help.  She has asked me to help her too.  I went and visited her yesterday during visiting hours.  Bright-side of being unemployed: I can be there for my cousin. Today I went to the family group counseling session with her and I will go back for visiting hours this evening.  I will do the same thing tomorrow. 

I feel so much about this situation.  SO MANY EMOTIONS!  I’m scared and angry and nervous and confused.  I want to be there for her but I HATE places like that!  I hate seeing people dealing with addition because my mom isn’t dealing with hers.  I’m scared that when I’m in a place like that they’re going to look at me and see how broken I feel sometimes and think I need to go in myself!  I’m afraid as she gets better it will force me to deal with my own issues. 

What if I’m really not strong enough for my life?  What if I’m not strong enough?

People always tell me I’m brave, and have courage, and how strong I am.  I don’t feel that way about myself.  How is it strong to be near someone going through issues? I ugess it is because so many people abandon others in their times of need.  I just don’t know how they do it.  I am uncomfortable going to these events with my cousin, but she needs me.  It doesn’t matter how I feel because it will help her if I’m there, so it’s just something I have to do.  I bought and wrote in 11 greeting cards for her yesterday.  Today I bought her lotion and chapstick.  tonight I am bringing her tweezers and gum.  I love her and want to help her rediscover joy again.  I’ve so recently accepted joy back into my life I am going to cling to it. 

I keep turning my face into the sunshine and lighting my candles hoping to burn away the darkness.

 

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

My mom met with the assisted living car facility today about my grandparents.  I was too nervous to call and see how it went.  It is a terrible situation and I grieve for everyone involved, even myself. My grandparents both have Alzheimer’s and dementia.  What is unusual is that they share the same delusions though.  They literally are in their own world.  Since my cousin has gone away to boarding school my grandparents and my parents have reconnected.  It quickly became obvious that all was not well.  My grandparents…. it’s just such a mess and I think only people who have experienced a loved one go through the trials of Alzheimer’s and dementia can understand how vulnerable they are now.  The worst part is that I miss them so much because even when we are together, they are not the same grandparents I used to know.  Sometimes they don’t even remember who I am.  I wish there was more I could do to help.  I just love them.  My parents are doing their best to help but they live 45 minutes away in another city.  They keep driving down to help twice a week but the rest of the week is consumed with worry about them.  The assisted living facility is only a block from my parent’s house and is super nice.  I used to volunteer there when I was in high school.  I hate the thought of them going to live somewhere like that because they’ve always been so independent… but I hate the thought of them alone in their big house more because at least in this place they will be safe and will have positive social interaction with people who won’t try to steal everything they have.

I pray for my parents and grandparents.  I hope that whatever happens the family will embrace my mom with love and support instead of blame, anger, negativity, etc.  I hope they disprove my fears and expectations.  People are SO awful!  Especially family!  I feel so helpless.  I just send positive thoughts and prayers their way and hope it is enough.  Still no job update.  Running out of money still.  I need a job before May 1st so I need to get an offer in the next couple weeks.  I will keep praying for the best and trying to brace for the worst.