Sunday, January 19, 2020

How It Should Be

The saying in the photo over there must bother me because I found myself purse lipped breathing as I read it.

I think it bothers me, other than what human being doesn't it bother, because I grew up watching adults do things that were harmful and wrong and not how it should be. That made it too painful to process life as it was. I coped by disassociating, shoving down feelings and abiding anywhere but in the here and now. Even typing that brings me back to when fear and breathing were the same thing.

I can spout out loud, "It is what it is" a gazillion times, while underneath that I am muttering, "damn it anyway."

It's such an old story line of mine. Will I ever shake it off? Learning to process life as it is feels like a trick that will end with someone thumping me a good one when I'm not looking. And shame on me for not seeing it coming.

And yet.
And yet.
Retraining my mind will continue.

Thursday, January 16, 2020


It's cold here. Bitterly cold. -53C with windchill last night. Windchill has kept us at highs in the -30s most of the week.

I'm not supposed to be typing right now because I injured my rotator cuff when I was in the airport 3 weeks ago. I stepped onto one of those moving walkways and failed miserably at trying to gauge how to walk off of it safely. Damn, that hurt.

I was off work last week in the hopes of getting better. Monday of this week was a fog of a day returning to work. Tuesday was better. Then I saw the physiotherapist yesterday and, after she put my shoulder joint back in place for the second time in less than a week plus my shoulder blade and a rib back where they should be, she suggested I take several days off to just sit and heal. Strict orders how to keep my shoulder aligned and such.

I better stop typing. I like to think I'm a compliant patient. Best not wreck that thought.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

For The Soul

I've been holed up in my office for several hours trying to make order out of (paper) chaos. Trying to decipher receipts from outdated notes to self. Coming across notes that make no sense and ones that I wish didn't. Notes with just numbers on them, for example, to the partially written timeline of someone's lies in preparation to give a required statement to the authorities. Sigh.

Am I a Luddite because I still use a paper, coil bound date book to record appointments and such? A bigger one for my desk and a purse size one to carry about? I have no desire to use my phone's calendar function to replace them.

In my cleaning I've come across memorial cards of those in our family who passed away last year.  I tucked those away in the box of things I deemed keep-able. Under my desk was a pile of snot rags and papers that built up into a tiny volcano-like hill after the small garbage can was full. It's been remarkably easy to throw things under my desk. Beside my desk is another pile of papers and books. If I spun my office chair around like one spins a globe I'd find things to clean no matter where I stopped. Does cleaning it mean I suddenly care?

The death of my sister in law a week ago has me swinging between who cares about anything anymore and it could happen to me tomorrow. It's prompted conversations with loved ones about wishes and important papers. The need to have those papers in one spot. Preferably not under my desk in a pile that makes it indistinguishable from the note to remember to pay a parking ticket or the Christmas letter to neighbours where I remind them that, although we can all see each others' lights on at night, we can't see what goes on in each others' lives. And ours has been particularly hard of late.

I type a bit here and then turn to tackle more rubbish.  I find an empty envelope that says Important information enclosed. On the back is an old grocery list. There's a sheaf of papers from a weekend Dearest One and I spent one on one with a psychotherapist. I find a list of appointments to book. Occasionally I find things that have me swearing under my breath.

Bit by bit I have tackled two volcanoes. My feet no longer kick bits of things out of the way when I type. I can look to the right and see the floor instead of a sea of books, papers and things to recycle.

One of the last bits that went into the keep-able box was a six month old sample pack of anti-aging skin care products.

Someone needs to invent one of those for the soul.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

The Other Side

We were up at 4 this morning to catch a plane. I crawled into bed shortly after we got home and woke up past suppertime. So ya. It's past midnight and now sleep is elusive.

Our house looks like we got up in the middle of a meal and left. Although honestly, it looks like that most everyday. Housekeeping is not my strong suit.

I'm not sure what my strong suit is. Maybe it is showing up. Not always in person, but in heart felt companionship, during hard times. I look over my texts and other forms of messaging and there's a lot of hurting people in my life right now. And I hurt along with them although my pain is not theirs. Theirs is the kind that cuts to the bone. Death and sickness has a way of dealing that card.

I was looking forward to what seemed like endless downtime for our Christmas holidays. I even took several extra days off so I could luxuriate in them to the fullest. I decided that I was not going to fill my days with must get done lists or I've failed as a human being kind of thinking. I would putter and read and relax. Who knew, maybe I'd even find time to write.

We had a death in the family mid December. A teenager. I just caught myself beginning to purse lip breathe as I typed that and remembered that my therapist suggested that I try to open my mouth and let my breath out instead. She said purse lip breathing was akin to trying to contain feelings. I've been doing that a lot lately. And now tears are pooling as I breathe out my feelings. I can't even go back and read that sentence without starting to purse lip breathe all over again.

A family wedding was scheduled for New Year's Eve and I found myself telling coworkers that I'm more of a funeral person than a wedding one. (Make of that what you will.) Even so, we booked tickets to fly to the nuptials. I had yet to book hotel rooms or car rentals with 4 days to go before we boarded our flight.

On Christmas Day we got a call telling us Dearest One's closest in age sister had suffered a brain aneurysm and was in ICU on life support. I don't know why a person gets surprised as if we are immune to tragedy. We'd already had 3 deaths in our family in 9 months. Surely that would tell us bad things happen to everyone.

The next morning we got up and made plans for our day. I wondered aloud if we should fly to be with family. This particular part of our family has isolated themselves from the rest, or at least it has felt that way, ever since they moved away three decades ago. In our early days of marriage we spent a lot of time together. Dearest One made a phone call and shortly after lunch we dropped what we were doing, packed our bags and were on a plane going in the opposite direction of the wedding.

We found our family members in the waiting room of the ICU. The last time I had seen my husband's brother in law was in the 1990's. It was a joy to greet his children, most of whom I hadn't seen in decades. There was even a great grandchild to meet. We sat among them in the little quadrant of the waiting room that we took ownership of as ours.

Communities built in microcosms are one of my favourite fascinations. For many days there were several families gathered in our respective areas. We'd nod to each other, sometimes sharing the bare essentials of who was on the other side of the locked entry door of the ICU. I took notice of the matriarch across from us who made sure every member of her extended family was fed before she went in to see her husband. Foreign languages were spoken all around us and for a few minutes, with everyone in one family hugging and having a semi reunion in the waiting room, there was a celebratory feel.

But mostly faces were grim with a dash of hope. Or hopeful with a shadow of grimness. Progress came in minute improvements. Or was dashed in the same blink of an eye.

We spent nine days holding vigil from morning until night at the bedside of Dearest One's sister. She turned 61 years young while we did so. There were family meetings with her medical team. Holding out hope. Fearing the worst. Feeling guilty when we felt no hope. Putting on a brave face. Mostly shock that this was reality.

Yesterday we gathered with the medical team late in the afternoon. We knew it was time to cling to a different kind of hope. The forever kind.

Machines were turned off. Medications were halted. Tubes were withdrawn. The end came mercifully quick.

Seven hours to the minute later her great grandson entered the world. We'd like to think they passed each other on the way.