After a midnight call, I was on my way to see Mom. On the phone I reminded her that returning to the hospital was not an option, but I couldn’t roll over and go back to sleep. If she was awake and miserable, I could at least hold her hand.
For a moment, as I drove through Dallas’s nearly empty streets, it almost felt normal. Heart-breaking telephone calls, late night drives and medical concerns have been a regular part of my life since July 2010. Not that I hadn’t gotten heart-breaking telephone calls, made late night drives and dealt with medical concerns before then. That’s just when they became my new paradigm.
If your current paradigm sounds kind of like mine, do you remember when it began? Mine started with one small piece of news. A friend’s significant other committed suicide. It’s odd that I remember this so clearly as the end of normal. Though my friend is dear to me, she lives in another state and is not a part of my day to day life. However, when I hung up the phone, that little voice inside my head said, “Put on your seat belt, you’re in for a rocky ride.”
The little voice was right. It seemed suddenly, every time the phone rang, there was bad news on the other end of it. My parents friends, people I loved almost as much as my parents did, began to fall like dominoes. My own friends began to get worrisome calls about their parents. Then my beloved Aunt Edie was diagnosed with cancer. By 2011 my normal wasn’t so normal anymore. We did squeak in a road trip in January, but after that, I was making frequent trips up and down I-35 to be by my aunt’s side.
Aunt Edie lost her battle in July of 2011, but my battle was just heating up. By October I was moving my parents into an independent living facility. I knew I was doing the right thing. It just wasn’t an easy thing. Then there was their estate sale and Dad had to be hospitalized and then we remodeled their house for the rental market and then…Suddenly it was October 2012 and I was planning Dad’s funeral.
As sad as I was to lose Dad, I knew he’d had a good life and I knew where he’d gone. We mourned him, but quite frankly, as 2013 started, I got a few months of near normal. My husband and I took a cruise with my best friend and her husband. I drug out my novel and started polishing again. But it didn’t last very long.
May 1st Mom went to the emergency room and has been in and out of medical facilities ever since. When I crawl in bed, I don’t really expect to sleep through the night. I may silence my phone in movies and at Sunday School, but it’s only muted, not off. And I hold it so I won’t miss a call.
Last night when I reached the nursing facility, they’d just given Mom a dose of something new for the nausea. We got her to lay down and to drink a few sips of water. I held her hand and soon she was nodding off to sleep. I slipped away and returned to my own bed. On the drive back, I reminded myself that this was not normal. The road back to normal requires a sad turn and I’m in no hurry to take it. But I do look forward to normal and I’ll never take it for granted again.