“Life is Pain…”

“…Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Such a cynical quote isn’t it?  But the last couple of weeks have been filled with so much pain that at times I wondered whether it was true.

As I noted previously, my beloved father-in-law passed Friday, March 23 just after midnight.  Because he had recently been switched to a direct morphine drip I presume he was feeling little to no pain.  And of course now he’s completely pain-free thank goodness.  The pain is ours.

For a number of reasons I selfishly wish Dad was still here.

First and most important – I love him.  He leaves a huge hole in my heart with his absence.

Second, his son loves him.  Hubs was able to mourn some at the funeral but he is a man after all and he keeps a lot of what he’s feeling inside.  At least until I’m asleep and he’s able to weep without bothering me.  Pffft!  I’d gladly hold him while he sobs his heart out but for some reason he hasn’t broken down in front of me more than a couple of times and then quickly regained a semblance of control.

My mother-in-law lost her best friend.  Witnessing her devastation has been heartbreaking.  And (selfishly again) in her loss I see a foreshadowing of events to come for myself and my best friend.

Every day I miss him.  I miss knowing he is there, merely an hour’s drive away.  His laughter.  His sarcasm.  His delight in family and the memories they revisit whenever we’re together.

While I recognize my selfishness I also know he is in a better place, without pain, without fear and finally, at peace.  That soothes my heart.

On top of the grief and family stresses of this time, I began feeling off later that Friday morning.  Shortly after receiving the call we  rushed up to the hospital to wait with everyone for the funeral home to pick up Dad.  It was around 2 am when we left the hospital and stopped to grab a bite to eat.  What can I say?  I married into a Jewish family; food is always – and I do mean ALWAYS a part of our gatherings.  The Denny’s was around the corner from my in-laws’ home and everyone went back there after.  An appointment with the funeral director had been previously set before Dad passed for later that day, and everyone wanted to go so we all spent what was left of the night with Mom and my SIL.

When Mom woke us around 9:30 after a restless few hours the smell of fresh-brewed coffee drew me to the kitchen.  It was going to be a long, long day so I loaded up.  That’s when I started feeling a tightness in my chest.  It was a cross between tightness and a tickle and I kept having to cough.  When I did the coughs seemed to explode in my chest like little starbursts of pain.

The cough persisted through the day but the grief overshadowed it and I did my best to ignore it.  Later, when Hubs and I had returned home we made a quick run to the grocery store and I stocked up on cold medicine, expectorant and throat lozenges.

Saturday we drove back up and got a room at the motel next to the Denny’s.  One of those ubiquitous operations found along every highway and considered cheap by most folks, it was the only local place we could have our dogs with us.  We requested a handicapped accessible queen room because of my knee.  What we got was little bigger than a closet with a huge bathroom attached (LOVED the walk-in shower).  The bed was most definitely NOT a queen and by the time it sank in it was too late to complain. 

We made the best of it.  When it became clear we were risking one of us falling out in the middle of the night, Hubs bunked down on the floor giving me the bed, which was only marginally more comfortable than the floor in my opinion.  Most of the night I shivered and ached all over.  I chalked up my feeling worse on Sunday to the poor sleep Saturday night and I kept plugging along.  We got through breakfast with our youngest daughter and her significant other, then headed over to the folks’ house where other children and grandchildren had arrived.  None of them had eaten so we followed them back to get food and then played follow the leader to the cemetery.

I spent much of the funeral watching out for family members, hugging many and passing Kleenex to those who needed it.  All with tears streaming down my own face.  There was a lot of hugging and crying as you’d expect.  By the time we returned to the house for the wake I think I was lucky to be standing.  I made myself a sandwich from the buffet trying desperately not to spread my germs and was able to eat about half of it before I had to stop.  After asking Mom if it was okay I slipped downstairs to her little apartment, crawled under her bedspread and collapsed.

But I could not get warm and rather than real sleep, all I attained was a sort of doziness as I shuddered and shook and curled into a fetal ball trying to stop shivering.  I don’t know how long I was there before someone slipped into the room – my brother-in-law from North Carolina.  He jumped a bit when I poked my head out from under the spread and started to take his laptop into the other room.  I told him to stick around, he wasn’t bothering me and if he went out to Mom’s living room the pack of dogs there would give him no peace.  He stayed and caught up with whatever it was he needed to work on. Later after he left someone else popped in briefly but I didn’t move and they went away.

I finally gave up on sleep and went back upstairs.  I was still freezing.  I’d purloined a sweater from the coat rack in Mom’s apartment thinking it was hers.  When I let her know I’d borrowed it her eyes got soft and she said “It was Daddy’s” and I should keep it.  Daughter A was standing there and she leaned in, burying her face in the knitted fabric, inhaling because it smelled like Dad.  Eventually we said our goodbyes and we headed home where I downed a healthy dose of Nyquil and crashed.

Monday I was feeling a little better, but Tuesday I was miserable again.  I called work and told them I’d been ill the entire time and was taking another day off to try to beat whatever bug I had now that our out of towners had returned home.  Wednesday we met some of our local family for a quick lunch and I felt worse again.  We drove by the doctor’s office after lunch but she had no appointments available then so I took the only one she had for Thursday and called work to explain … again.

All this time I’m swinging from being freezing cold to so hot it started to concern Hubs.  It’s a family joke that I’m always cold, never hot.  When Hubs is comfy I’m usually wearing sweats, socks and wrapped in a quilt.  And the coughing!  Dry hacking coughs that shook my body.  Thursday Dr. H reviewed my symptoms with me, examined my tongue, nose and ears and after listening to my lungs pronounced that I had walking pneumonia.  Well that’s just grrreat. 

Now, days later I hope I’m on the mend.  I’ve been back at work for a few days and while I’m still exhausted the cough seems to be better.  It didn’t wake me last night anyway and I’m taking that as a good sign. 

I didn’t get to mourn the way I would have had I not been ill and I’m sure it’s waiting for me.  Dr. H said that grief is in the lungs or something like that.  I don’t remember her exact turn of phrase but it was enough for me to look it up.  Chinese medicine suggests extreme emotional states can affect certain organs negatively.  The lungs are impacted directly by grief.  Go figure.

I want to thank my fellow bloggers who have expressed their support and sent prayers, positive thoughts and hugs.  I appreciate you all so very much! 

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Pour Me

TGIF!  No really, T. G. I. F.!!  It’s Friday!!  I should be exulting in two whole days away from the office.  Sleeping in!  Two days when I can do what I want, when I want.  Riiiight.

I usually love the weekend, hey I’m normal, sort of.  Shut up.  This weekend not so much.  I’d almost be glad if I could get some overtime and have to work.  What?  I said almost

Tonight my sister-in-law flies in late from North Carolina.  This visit has been in the works for some time so it isn’t a surprise.  I love my sister-in-law, truly.  I love her best from a distance, but I can deal for two or three days.  The downside of this weekend is that her dad, my father-in-law is in the hospital and he’s not doing well. 

M planned this weekend as a regular visit with the west coast family, but it’s turning into a “say good-bye to daddy” visit.  Which will translate to a weepy, mega-emotional weekend for everyone.  Sigh.

I’m not trying to minimize the grief I’m certain M is beginning to experience.  I’m dreading the emotional exhaustion I’m going to be experiencing when the weekend is over.  It takes a LOT of energy to support loved ones who are hurting.  And I want to be supportive, especially for Hubs.  He knows his Dad isn’t going to last much longer and it’s eating him up.  Dad is just so tired of fighting and hurting and getting hit with the next thing before he recovers from the last.  (He was recently in a nursing home after falling and fracturing his shoulder; while there he developed MRSA and is now hospitalized while they try to treat that bastard.  All this on top of pancreatic cancer.) 

In addition to being as supportive as I can, I’m grieving too.  As I mentioned in Dad’s birthday post, he’s the only real dad I’ve ever known.  It’s difficult to see the lovely, funny man I’ve known for more than 14 years begin to fail so dramatically.  I miss the guy who could fire back a snarky comment before I’d finished my sentence.  I see the grumpy, hurting husk he’s becoming and I sob inside, screaming silently, NO!  He survived prostate cancer for heaven’s sake!  And a heart valve replacement.  And MRSA multiple times before.   

On top of everything they say he had a mild stroke in the last few days.  And the super duper drugs he’s on don’t seem to be working yet.  Hubs wonders whether Dad is holding on until he sees his oldest daughter this weekend.  I wonder the same thing.  And what we’re going to do if that’s true. 

It’s going to be a long, long weekend.  Pour me a tall one.  Repeatedly.

Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan

I discovered Lost and Found on the uncataloged shelves at my library.  It has a black Lab on the front and that sold me on the book before I even read the back cover.

From the back cover:

“But then she meets Lloyd.

“A large black Labrador retriever, Lloyd enters Rocky’s world with a primitive arrow sticking out of his shoulder.  And so begins a remarkable friendship between a wounded woman and a wounded, lovable beast.”

Getting to this part in the story takes a little while, but it’s worth it.  Ms. Sheehan’s writing is moving and emotional; I cried along with Rocky at her loss.  You care about Rocky from practically the first couple of pages, which is something new for me.  It usually takes awhile for characters to reach me but I loved Rocky from the start.

And Lloyd!  Lloyd is such a sweetie and Ms. Sheehan gives him his own voice!  Lloyd remembers his previous human with sadness and pain, believing that he failed in protecting her.  As he bonds with Rocky he joins her in her unsettling dreams, understanding she needs “extra watching at night.”

Rocky’s relationship with Lloyd eventually leads her out of her grief.  She is able to move forward, not forgetting her loss but no longer clinging to it instead of living.  I realize I’m not providing a lot of detail here but I’m reluctant to give anything away.  In the end, they save each other.

One of the ways I rate a book is whether I like it well enough to have my own copy.  This one is going on my shelf.