When all else
It seems so silly now, obsessing over my arbitrary check boxes and self imposed goals. Spending my days agonizing over self improvement rituals and achieving superficial things like “buy pots for a garden.” Everything can change in one instance. That’s all it takes for time to stop. To be still, to freeze. To lose all sense of self, the world, the forest for the trees. The clock stops ticking. Your lungs stop filling with air. You can’t breathe, think, feel. Your muscles seize up. One phone call. That’s all it takes.
Time just stops.
And nothing else matters anymore.
It’s been quite the week, for sure. It feels longer than five days. It feels like an eternity. But I think we are finally coming through on the other side after weathering the storm. And, thankfully, the other side of the storm doesn’t involve a gaping hole of grief you will never get through, but a hole grief you learn to live with. It could have been worse, but the fear still grips me right in the chest.
I thought I was going to lose my mom this week. Nothing makes you feel so small, so insignificant, so alone, than the thought of losing a parent. It’s the racing thoughts of the questions you never got to ask them about their life—about who they are as their individual self, not as their role of “mom.” The things you never got to experience together because your own life is just now beginning. The things you forgot to tell them before surgery—and wondering if you’ll ever get the chance to. There’s not enough time.
I walked down that surgery hallway after they rolled her away just feeling defeated. Two in the morning. The whole world asleep, knowing that my own world—a mere sliver of the rest of the universe—feeling like it’s hanging on by a thread. I think about all of the times I was an awful daughter. Unkind, moody, distant. I’m just not very good at being close to people.
Her thread hung on though, thankfully. The doctor was sure to tell us that a traditionally easy surgery would be very high risk because of her myriad of pre-existing health problems. He told me that if I was the one on his operating table, I would be upstairs in a regular room eating jello after the anesthesia wore off. Not hooked up to wires and breathing machines in the ICU for three days. Not out of the woods. Hanging in balance. Worse off than yesterday, but exactly where I thought she would be. I appreciate his honesty. But it doesn’t soften the blows. It’s worse when you understand what the numbers on the monitor screen mean, I think. What a perfect example of “ignorance is bliss.” You see the numbers drop. You hear the medical jargon, and the nurses arguing with each other. And you understand their language, and you know it’s not good news.
People think there’s always time. That it is without limit. That you can save your forgiveness for another day and hold onto your hurt and keep a tight grasp on your anger to be released into the universe in that perfect moment when all of the stars align because the timeline that stretches ahead of you is infinite.
But it’s not.
We are, tentatively, making it through. I don’t feel like I’ve been able to really, truly breathe for five days. Little by little I find my breath as she reaches those “positive sign” milestones: no longer needing the ventilator, the oxygen saturation staying good. Blood pressure stable. Good kidney function. Limited heart strain. The first time she was able to stand. Being released from the ICU to a regular room. Getting her first real meal. The color returning to her face. Her voice returning to normal. But you hear words like wound vac, or blood clot and you’re right back in the deep end, unable to find your footing.
It’s not the first time I’ve cried over my mom’s health. I imagine it won’t be the last. I hope it means positive changes in health choices in the future as we move forward. I feel like such a small, scared child. I’m still a kid in so many ways. I need my mom, even if I’m not always the most outwardly emotional person and I suck at showing it. Even if I’m not one of those people that calls their mom for advice every day. Even if my first thought when something happens isn’t “I need to call my mom.” I, very much so, need to work on becoming a better daughter. Before I never get a chance to.
Perhaps being less flighty and aloof should be one of my Powersheets goals now. I’m not exactly good at being a good person. Growing tomatoes mean so little in the scheme of things.
I want to thank everyone who reached out to me during this whole ordeal. I received so many texts, calls and hugs as we waited tentatively for progress. I hope I can be there for everyone when they are in their own season of grief and worry. People I never expected come forward and offered to help in any way that we needed. I felt the presence of all of your thoughts and prayers. We greatly appreciate it.
That’s a blog post I never thought I would write.
All we can do is keep moving forward, come hell or high water.