THE LULU CHRONICLES
I’m visiting my family in Memphis and this morning I woke to sleet, a tiny bit of snow, and icy roads, windshields and tree branches that looked like popsicles. I left Wisconsin for this? However, I have heard that at one point last night the North Country recorded a -30 wind chill. Makes Memphis seem quite balmy in comparison.
I’ve come south to help take care of my parents. Dad is in the nursing home and Mom was admitted to the hospital on Sunday. For 87-year-olds, they’ve been pretty healthy until recently, strong, and spry with a little kick in their steps. Unfortunately, the hounds of aging catch up with all of us eventually. My brother and I are trying to honor our parents with care and patience. As for me, I feel I’m useless at times. While it has been sixteen month since I lost my husband to cancer, I fear grieving has taken its toll. I find it hard to ‘muster’. I tire quickly and my coping skills are spotty at best. I think I’m doing all right then Boom! Something happens and I’m back at Day One trying to navigate the turbulent emotions of loss. This time the trigger was being in a hospital room again. The last three years of my husband’s life hospital stays were a huge part of the landscape. One whiff of that sanitized air and the post-traumatic stress kicked in big time.
Benjamin Scott Allen who lost his wife and two sons to HIV says in his book, Out of the Ashes- Healing in the AfterLoss, “No matter how far I go I still had to live with where I’ve been.” As the loss scabs over and I think I’ve beaten it or at least moved far enough along to not feel so raw and edgy, the truth is I carry it with me always. The loss is now a part of my fabric. The stress of watching my husband die for three years could not be more conspicuous than if I had grown an extra limb over those three years. It takes very little to send me back there—a smell, a breeze, the feel of certain fabrics.
With that said, I do believe I’m better. I have made strides. I am healing. I’m still learning what my new normal should look like. I’m more willing to admit my limits. I’m learning how to live alone and not be held captive by loneliness. It’s hard to separate the two but I must. Living alone won’t kill me, but loneliness can.
So here I am. Freezing in the South. Keeping the roads hot from nursing home to hospital and back again, and trying to be useful, supportive and as good of a daughter as my own loss will allow. If I am to be honest, there are times when I lay my head down at night and I wonder where God is in all of this. What does God want me to see, hear, and do? I ask, but the insulation in the room seems to soak up my words.
I haven’t turned the corner yet. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t. But, I will get there. I’m further than I once was. A tiny light has sparked within. On cold nights, I can feel the promise of its warmth. Maybe that’s what mercy feels like?
Wishing you extra blankets and another log on the fire.