This will not be linear or in order of importance, just what has happened and is changing in my life. The first inkling I had that I was not holding it all together was the day I threw a framed Serenity Prayer into the bathroom wastebasket. Half of our Christmas decorations are still up, including some red lights woven through artificial greens above my 1930's oven.
My mother now lives in what looks like a Victorian mansion in Cape May, an assisted living franchise chosen by other siblings. Despite being her health care proxy in New Jersey, I've been told not to "interfere". Quite the tangled web. At first I was angry, then sad; now I feel mostly empty, just like her house.
The routine of the Adult Day Care Center for my husband and five workouts a week for me at the YMCA has been derailed due to weather and changes in his behaviour. Medications that were prescribed by his neurologist to help my husband sleep all night had adverse reactions. His emphysema has worsened, despite two medications prescribed by the pulmonologist, neither of which helps his shortness of breath.
Our younger son moved back home, which is basically good but both sons are deeply affected by the situation regarding my mother and their Dad. I was always the dominant parent while they were growing up, so I imagine it's difficult for them to see me not as strong as I'd like to be.
Every year we receive a Christmas card from a woman who once worked with my husband. Last year, she listed five or six people who died, then invited us to visit her any time in Maine. This year, she extended the same invitation, adding, "It's been a great year and no one died except an old cat."
Both cards made my husband and I laugh when we first read them, however some time this January during a brutal storm, our oldest cat, Noki, who had been sick for several months but had recovered stood by the side door and looked up at me.
I opened the door and without hesitation, he marched off to die.
I was able to avoid telling my husband this until one night when he directly asked where Noki was. Talk about heartbreaking. He sat sobbing like a small child and for four hours I said everything comforting I could muster, starting with biology; every living thing dies...until I realized my husband was reacting to deeper griefs from his past. That's when I said, "I know you don't believe in Heaven, but I do. I'm sure Noki is in Cat Heaven and the best of his nine lives were in our home."
My husband calmed down and fell asleep, while I went into a colder room where my mind raced until morning.