And then September happened and everything just fell apart. Steve became seriously ill on my birthday (September 9th) and entered the intensive care unit the next morning. Within the span of a week-and-a-half I was reinstated as his power-of-attorney-for-health-care and I had to make the fatal and horrific decision to stop life support and let him go… while still in shock I reached out to my sister-in-law just at the moment she was calling me to let me know that her brother (and my brother-in-law) Mike had died suddenly four days after Steve. That had to be the most surreal conversation I have ever had in my life – the two of us trying to come to terms with the fact that BOTH our brothers were suddenly gone.
School became a blur, even as I had made the decision to graduate in December (something that didn’t happen) and scraping together the money for my brother’s final expenses and some large expenses coming due at the same time wiped out every extra cent I had without the possibility of any more self-generated income. I suddenly became a dependent again – something I can’t begin to describe. Ever since then I have lived in the margins of my mind – equal parts focused and determined and desperate and grief-stricken. October and November blended into each other, the holidays came and while there were moments of great contentment and joy a part of me felt out-of-sync and emotionally absent. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew there were solutions to be divined and made tangible but they were always elusively just out-of-reach. I am left feeling helpless and free-floating in some abysmal mire waiting for the mental fog to clear even as I reach for just about any substance to keep my mind altered.
Now as the clock ticks off the last hours of the year I am again faced with new situations that I would truthfully just rather not deal with but for which there is no other choice but for me to act in a responsible manner. Early next month my sister, Angela will undergo eye surgery to restore her vision. The concept of Angie as blind and frail at 49 years old never pinged my radar but as of this Thanksgiving reality came home when she came for dinner and it was obvious that her health had taken a serious downward turn. The prospect of one more caregiving role is almost too much for me to contemplate but here I am.
If I should dare look away from this situation and focus on my own life I am left contemplating the fact that my car is now seriously on the fritz – needing both a new thermostat and tires. I am so far behind in my schoolwork I have decided to not enroll in any more classes until I can complete the legion of incompletes currently on my transcript, even though that means I will have no health insurance and only six months before the first of my student loans need to be factored into my expenses. For the first time since Erhard’s death not a single bill has been paid this month and I am not sure that there is enough anywhere to cover the cost, despite the fact that both kids and renteds have stepped up to fill the gap. I can’t even bring myself to gather up the bills although I know instinctively that I will have to have this done by Monday.
Yet as I looked around this morning after waking up hours later than usual because I was unable to sleep until past seven-this-morning I felt a security and contentment as I gazed around my cluttered, mismatched home and realized that I loved this place and my life and I had to ultimately prove that no, the world really didn’t end.
I know that I face months of therapy and assistance before my equilibrium returns completely but for right now, this moment, I am okay. I am safe within the cocoon of a loving, large, raucous family and extended family and that none of us are willing to watch the others sink. Sitting at my feet is a mixed-breed puppy too large to be recognized as the baby he still is, offering me his warmth and comfort and unconditional love. The house is dark yet the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle brightly just a room away reminding me of the riotous mix of colors and styles that make up the life and the living space I occupy. I have just gotten up and lit the candles in the foyer that keep watch over the memorial to my mother, brother, and husband. A little less darkness in a space that is far more used to light than gloom.
While far from gourmet there is food in the cabinets for human and critter alike (both dog and six-cats worth). Beyond my melancholy I know there is still joy and love enough for me and everyone I care about… even if reaching it is more laborious than I would like. I am content with my humanity, my spirituality, even my weight – which curiously hasn't changed much in the three months I have stepped away from daily measuring and recording – a small tidbit of trivia that actually makes me quite proud. I am not where I want to be but where I am is alright for now.
I have not given up on the idea and practice of interdependency even as I wrestle my ego into submission whenever I have to ask one of the guys for something – even something small. I have a role to play in this world and something to contribute even if right now I don’t know exactly what that is… and somehow, in some strange weird bohemian kind-of-way that knowledge comforts me. Life is broken but repairable. Just like the nooks and crannies and garage spaces I have cleaned out of late I can clean out the clutter of my loneliness and despair and make room again for contentment. Routine activities bring me solace. The simple acts of life maintenance remind me that I am really still alive – that once again, the world really didn't end.
I am not sure exactly what 2013 holds for any of us – there is always the hope that it will somehow be better than what came before, but no guarantees come with living this real life. If I could wave a magic wand over my world I would enjoin the spirits of the universe to bring us safely back here twelve months from now better than we ever were in the past – that all of us will find 2013 a cherished year. But I have no magic, only a ditch-digger’s shovel resourceful enough to find serendipity alive and well after the sweat and tears dry.