“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.

The Vineyard

Barbara Delinsky is one of my favorite authors.  I recently finished The Vineyard.  It tells a parallel story of Olivia Jones and Natalie Seebring, women from two very different generations but each are strong in their own way. 

Olivia Jones is a single mother of a dyslexic child, struggling to provide for her daughter not only the material necessities, but also the best possible education.  At the same time she’s searching for her own mother who left when Olivia was old enough to be on her own.  Olivia badly wants a family and even daydreams about discovering she’s the long lost [granddaughter, cousin, niece] of the Seebring family.

Natalie Seebring on the other hand is completely sure of who she is and where she fits in her family.  Having grown up in the Depression era she understands the value of hard work and has made the family vineyard her life’s work.  She also understands sacrifice, having given up the man she loved to marry a man whose family money would bolster the vineyard. 

Ms. Delinsky weaves their stories together along with a taste of the bittersweet, some laughter and blossoming love.  The historical snippets felt genuine and moved me while the descriptions of the vineyard and its management were interesting – I DO love my wine!  I’d highly recommend this book!