To say that the summer of 2013 will go down in history as my worst ever would be the understatement of the century.
I lost my high-paying, executive-level job in May to a combination of a stress-induced bipolar crisis and corporate politics. This was followed shortly by my elderly sister’s disastrous fall here at home which led to two months in a skilled nursing facility; and now she is declining at an alarming rate as she sits in an assisted living facility, hating life, refusing to walk or even wheel herself around the building, and becoming more demented and depressed by the day. Now my husband’s got cancer, and I can’t save him from it anymore than he can save himself.
Okay. One crisis at a time. Breathe……..yes, I can do this. My own illness is hiding under a rock someplace, I’m stable on medications, and nothing I’m experiencing is the least bit unusual for someone who will probably be widowed by the time the snow flies.
But true to form, my sister’s drama is unfolding all over again and our attention has been diverted yet another time to her and her issues. Will and I visited her at her new apartment today, which may not be “home” yet, but it sure beats the hell out of a semi-private room in a nursing facility! But of course she hates it there, and the complaints are the same ones she had at the rehab—some of the staff don’t like her and are “mean” to her, the food isn’t appetizing, and everyone there is “too old”. (Meanwhile, I saw a woman old enough to be our mother WALKING to the dining room while my sister wouldn’t even wheel herself down for dinner…..nice little bit of cognitive dissonance there.)
OK, I’ll admit that I’ve been a little irritable today, partly because of the heat and the fact that I couldn’t go to sleep till after 5 this morning and the other fact that people are fucking stupid. Individually AND in groups. But after my queasy, exhausted husband and I had driven 70 miles with her TV, her Bose radio, and her portable oxygen, she sat there staring at some ridiculous Reagan-era movie about teenage witches that was playing on a borrowed VCR. As she rocked herself back and forth, back and forth, running over her oxygen tubing over and over and over again, my anger began to build.
Finally, after watching her do this for the better part of an hour, it got to be too much: “So, what—are you going to just sit in that wheelchair and rot now that you don’t have to go to physical therapy?” I said just a little too loudly. “You can walk. I’ve seen you do it. Why don’t you walk instead of sitting in that stupid wheelchair?”
Her response was both petulant and defiant, a combination she KNOWS will rip the lid off my gunpowder temper and create an explosion. “Because I don’t want to,” she shot back.
Well, that tore it: “Oh, I get it,” I spat, practically hissing like an angry snake. “You’re going to let yourself go to hell all over again, and then you’re going to get pneumonia again, and then I’m going to lose BOTH of you right around the same time! Is that what you’re trying to do, make the crazy lady go totally off the deep end? What kind of bullshit is THAT??!!”
Did I ever mention that I’m not particularly good at adapting to change?
All I need is for the two best friends I have to die within a short time of each other……..I tremble to think how truly awful these losses will be under even the gentlest of circumstances. But to lose them both close together would undoubtedly call into question the necessity of my continued existence. Not to say I’d do anything about it, but I sure can think of worse fates…..namely, going on without either of my anchors to hold me fast whenever I start to veer off course.
And yet, as clichéd as it sounds—and as much as I hate it—I know the winds of change blow over us all: the just and the unjust, the loved and the unloved……the ones whose lives are just beginning, and the ones whose lives are about to end. The only constant in life IS change. I only ask that God grant me the serenity to accept it, no matter what it costs.