Sunday, September 22, 2013

On Traveling, and Perspective

For Ben, and Robin. We love you.

Traveling isn't easy.
It's pretty exhausting, actually.

This is how it usually goes down for us:
I make three lists.
D, M, and 3.
D = all of my stuff
M = all of Michael's stuff
3 = all of the stuff we must take with us to manage anything and everything related to Michael's disability.

I pack for all three of us.
I load the van. Which, honestly, it's a good thing we have a van that has no middle seats, because even when we go away for a short weekend trip, we take A LOT of stuff. When we left yesterday for the cabin, we had seven bags, plus a cooler. These are not big bags. But still, seven of them, for two people, for two nights away from home.

Then, I load Michael into the van, and tie him down (not as mean and/or crazy as it sounds) and get his seat belt on and make sure he's all comfortable.

Then, I'm in, find a place for my purse, crank the A/C, and we're off!

Michael gets bonus husband points this weekend for wearing a hoodie so that I could comfortably crank the A/C, guilt free.

I drive, obviously.
Then, we arrive.

Michael and I were able to successfully pack mule all seven of our bags plus the cooler up the ramp to the cabin in one trip, and he didn't fall backwards, so that's a win.

This is the point where I ran out of patience.
Note: My patience used to run out when I was packing the van, so this is actually an improvement!

When we get to the destination, I unpack everything and make sure it's in its place. Because I'm the psycho who believes everything has a place - even on vacation - even in a cabin we're only staying in for two nights. I also believe everything's place is as close as possible to where that place would be at home. Hey, I like my routines, what can I say?

While I'm doing this, Michael brushes his teeth and takes his pills.
I turn down the bed.
He tries to go back to the van to get a cord to plug his phone in. He is unsuccessful at getting the cord, but successful in cutting his knee open, so now it's bleeding. Luckily, there are band-aids in one of his bags from a trip long ago.

I'm about to cry. I feel it coming.
But, I don't. I take a deep breath, I think of my friend Robin.

Robin was a quad wife like me. Robin took care of all of this stuff, and more, for/with her husband Ben for years. With a smile on her face, an encouraging word for others, and her "Proud Wife" shirt. But Tuesday, unexpectedly and suddenly, at the young age of 52, Ben passed away. Everything changes for Robin now.

I don't want to look back at all this stuff I've written one day and hate myself for complaining about driving and patching up busted knees and feeling like a failure because I didn't remember the gait belt even though the home health aide packed Michael's bag and it was his responsibility and her responsibility and not my responsibility.

One day, I will be alone.
I hope it's not for a very, very long time.
But when that day comes, I don't want to have a life full of memories of feeling overwhelmed, and stressed out and alone.

We have lots of sweet memories of being a team and being a young couple in love and road trips and vacations that are awesome. I want to remember those.

So, I need to write about those.

See, that's the danger in your writing being your "free therapy." Because do you go to therapy to sit on a couch and talk to someone about how much you love your life? No. You go because you're burned out, or sad, or angry, or confused, or all of the above.

Michael raided the entire three bedroom cabin and stole all the pillows off all the beds (except the top bunk bed, slacker) and I got him all snuggled in the bed. We used the belt from his pants in place of the gait belt (I strap his legs together while he sleeps so they don't frog out) and I cleaned the cut on his knee and put a band-aid on it.

Caregiver responsibilities were over, so then I snuggled up beside him, laid my head on his right shoulder - a.k.a - my favorite place in the world, and he was snoring in no time, and I'm positive I wasn't far behind him.

I slept for eight hours, laid in bed for two more thinking about getting up. I got up an hour ago, and as soon as I'm done with this thought, and two more sips of my coffee which is now room temperature, I'll do it again, in reverse order.

I'll do it gladly.
Because there's nothing more precious than my husband.
I'll take good care of him.
Better care than anyone else would, no matter their advanced nursing degrees.
Better care than I take of myself.
And I only pray that I have the chance to do this until we are both very old people.
Life is but a vapor, y'all.

After going years and years without going to a funeral, I've lost four friends out of nowhere this year.
Monday, we will go to celebrate Ben's life.
We'll hug sweet, sweet Robin, who loved him with all of herself.

Shocking loss changes you.
But, only if you let it.
Or so, I'm learning.

Galatians 6:19: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."


Jaimie L. Moore said...

Good read, Dana. Thanks for sharing!

Stephanie said...

I love your honesty & desire to have a perspective full of gratitude and joy!

Thanks for sharing! xoxoxo

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