Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sad Anniversaries

I am feeling down today.  Blue.  Under-slept and over-tired.  Getting absolutely nothing done.  Reading, eating cookies.  Not answering the phone, just not feeling social enough.

And that shower I was going to take this morning?  Not yet, my friends (be very glad computers aren't equipped with smell-o-vision).

And it wasn't even classic peri-menopausal insomnia keeping me up last night; I just didn't let myself go to bed.  Because, don't you know, if you don't go to sleep, then tomorrow never comes.  Convenient little trick, isn't it?

What?  That doesn't work?  Yeah, I kind of figured that out myself.

I was wondering why I was such a hot mess right now, and then realized, of course, it's an anniversary. And not a happy one.

On this day, December 7th, last year, Dad went into the hospital for back to back check-ups with his cardiac and vascular doctors.  I had cleared the whole morning.  I didn't get home until nearly midnight.

When the vascular doctor could find absolutely no blood flow to his left leg, and his cardiologist looked at his echo-cardiogram, it was clearly all going south.  Fast.

There was an operation. There were events and procedures.

When they sent him home a few days later, it was to die.

We were told to expect him to last a few days, a few weeks at the absolute outside.

It was not an easy or happy holiday season last year and all the festiveness circling round me this year is leaving me likewise cold.

In some ways it’s even harder.

Last year there was my father's constant needs to be met, his acute care to engage in; my brother and sister charging in to spend final, precious time with Dad; my devastated mother to comfort; a swirl of practical activity as we prepared for his last few final days.

And then?  He lived three more months. The whole winter.

My father spent last winter, the whole fucking winter, dying. Very slowly.  (Sometimes being strong can work against you.)

And now, to me, winter = death. And I don't want to have anything to do with it.  I want to stay inside and hide.

But I have children.  They need to come and go, and can’t do it alone.

This cold blustery weather brings me back to all those freezing late night trips across town to buy the adult diapers that my mother informs me they are out of at 11 pm.

Those 2 a.m. trips to pick him up off the floor when he had fallen, getting out of bed and walking to the kitchen, which his doctors had assured us was an utter impossibility for one so frail and infirm.

They had no idea what a stubborn, willful man my father was.  If he wanted to go to the kitchen, he was walking into the kitchen, damn it, dying body or no.

And then he was no longer capable of even that.  And then there needed to be round the clock care.

And then, finally, for his final three days, he was in the caring shelter of a hospice in the nether regions of the Bronx.  I hated the long ride out there on traffic choked streets through those blasted, blighted neighborhoods more than anything in my life to that point.

In the gray March chill of a clinging winter that would not loose hold, I said farewell to my father.  To the ragged, skin-stretched skeleton that was what was left of him.

I am not looking forward to these next three months, re-living those days.  I wish for an end to this awful year of bereft firsts.

I am wishing I could just fly south, like birds and butterflies. Flee; fly free of winter; skip out on all this.

But I have children, here.  A husband.  An elderly, sad, increasingly lost mother.

And these ties that bind also offer what solace there is. They are my warmth, my light; my summer-in-winter.

And if I hold them a little too tightly tonight, with my eyes shining a little too brightly, I hope they will understand.

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