Saturday, September 28, 2013

ma mere/my mom

It hadn't dawned on me how challenging the past 28 hours were until I heard ma belle describe it to her parents. My in-laws/belles-parents are visiting this weekend. My mom was supposed to come over to 'have tea' with her mom as they seem to get along and have had an email relationship since the families merged through marriage (oh les Fran├žaise !). My mom couldn't come today because she had a pacemaker put in late yesterday afternoon. Originally I wasn't worried because I have every confidence in the Heart Hospital she was in - of course, it's the same one I go to. They are routine procedures and dozens per week are performed. She even returned home late last night. I visited this morning and she looked awful. This fact, and other details, are what ma belle shared with her parents. It really bothered me and let her know that it was private. I reflected on why I feel so defensive of my mother - me who will share details about anything - and realized that I wanted to protect her dignity. My in-laws, despite being related, didn't need to imagine her in a weak state. I am my mother's daughter and we both have a hard time asking for help. She certainly didn't want to bother any of her children so I'm very glad that when I called her after my morning meeting I decided to 'pop' by despite her saying she was okay. When we got there I could see the pain in her eyes but also the gratitude.
It's really affecting me as, it's late in the day and I've tired myself enjoying my in-laws. It takes a whole lot of mental energy translating French all afternoon and though I understand it fairly well, at the speed and rate they speak it, it's amazing I catch most of what's said. Then to contribute right back is no small effort. So, as I retreat back to English land, the intimacy I shared with my mother (her letting me help her) is hitting me profoundly. Here I am, all tubed up, with months to go, helping my 72 year old maman and I feel sad I can't do more.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Negative atheists

There are times when close loved ones are not the people to turn to when you're in turmoil. When you're a palliative patient, everyone suffers, especially the loved ones. So who does one turn to for help with the biggest decisions that will ultimately affect yours and their lives? A neutral ear, a therapist, they are not helpful either.
Sometimes loved ones are pulled and stretched in supporting the ill but they need their own support. I used to like to think I was the pillar holding up my partner but I can't be that anymore and her pillar has crumbled down. It's exhausting caring for 2 people in a marriage when only one can take care of all the physical (errands, laundry, cleaning, shopping, dishes, etc. etc.).
I work so hard at being positive that it also becomes tiring. Sometimes I'd like a refuge to feel sad a little bit but when that makes others' sad, it's difficult.
I know I'm no ray of (constant) sunshine but in my conscious attempt at being positive I find I'm becoming more intolerant of negative people around me. I have a friend who, thought I love her dearly, every time we get together (or on messaging for that matter) she will always throw out a negative criticism. Just once I'd love to challenge her to one visit without the negativity. I won't ask though because she believes she's a positive person. When I challenged her on it a few years ago it was met with anger. If only I had a tape-recorder.
Then there's the other acquaintance who's a staunch atheist who has to put down anyone and everyone who thinks differently than her or her science articles she puts in her FB feed. I wonder if she is somehow making up for her own lack of intelligence by hiding behind other peoples' research. She claims to be a know-it-all yet only has an undergraduate degree, not even in science. I am irked by this because whenever I struggled (months earlier) with the transplant issue she used a numbers approach. Her attitude was 'well, you could choose death' forgetting that that's the end result of the whole thing. Period. To her quality of life is not something to consider. She's very much a quantities person. Here I am "bitching" about her so I decided to delete her. I am so tired of being beaten over the head with a journal article. Her behaviour has been as bad as those fundamentalists she complains about: hitting people over the head with the bible claiming it's fact. Well darling, a journal article/study may be fact but it's not infallible. Fundamental atheists are just as bad as fundamental religious people: being disrespectful of each other, critical and resorting to name-calling!
As you've discovered from me dear reader I'm not "Religious" or even believe in a 'god' per se, but I am highly spiritual and believe that there is more to this world and to us than what we can see, hear and feel. Some folks label that agnostic, I'm fine with Spiritual thank you very much. I pray, I meditate, I make amends, I forgive and ask for forgiveness. I also hold a graduate degree, understand research methodology and basic science. I see proof of evolution all over the place and don't understand why it's even a debate. I also turn to biblical passages for comfort. Though they are most likely fictional stories, there is always something new I get out of them - not because it was written by some 'religious' group, but because as an introspective spiritual person who processes information, I recognize that each time I reread something, I'm a different person than when I was the last time I read it.
There's a saying that you can't put your foot in the same river twice. I used to teach that to my students (when I taught at college). Same with a story: the story doesn't change, but what we need from it does.
The Universe itself is alive and electric and I don't understand atheists who say they believe in fact and science but then don't also believe in the fact and science of physics, molecules and the energy that they create. I mean, what is prayer: sending a certain type of energy out into a specified direction.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Friday, September 13, 2013

So long as you live, keep on living.

With all this time on my hands, I do think about life, it's purpose, love, and everything in between. I even find myself thinking about transplant options again. I admit, I cannot accept death. It's sad, I know. I am not in turmoil about it (all the time that is). I choose to live my days as fully as can be. Some days that means all I've accomplished are washing the dishes and watching another documentary on Netflix. Yes, that's it. With the clock ticking, that's what I'm doing. During the first few months I felt the clock so loudly that I pressured myself into 'making a mark'. I knitted a whole bunch of sweaters and booties. I refused to let my existence on this planet go unmarked, unnoticed. If I choose cremation (against my religion, but not my pocket book), I won't even have a headstone to mark my existence.
I had awareness when I was watching loads of "foreign" documentaries about people outside of capitalistic self-involved north america. Most people are born, die with no mark of their existence. This became very apparent as I reignited my genealogy search and realized that if you weren't part of a religion, your birth was not recorded. You didn't exist. Even in my desire to want to be recognized for existing and contributing to society, in 50 years it won't matter. My cohort will be dead, as will I. It's only a matter or time.
This used to get me down.
It is starting to become liberating. I wish I was completely detached from ego so that I can say I'm no longer saddened by the idea of disappearing once I die. I'm not fully there yet, however I am recognizing just how insignificant life is.
I think the reason it's still not completely liberating is all the pain my leaving the planet will cause to my loved ones. For good reason, if my wife were to die tomorrow, I would be lost. For more than the obvious reasons that she is currently my care-taker. She is my soul-mate that has really shown me what she's made of. I've been partnered to some caring, loving individuals. One of whom I got to visit with last week. No one but no one else has been able to be as stupendously loyal as ma belle. I am forever indebted to her and strive each day to leave her with something greater than if I was ripped from this planet without warning. I beautify our home, create things for her, feed her nourishing meals, make her favourite bread, laugh as much as we can in this situation and let her know just how strong she is. I don't list what I do for credit. I list what I do to illustrate that it's not what you "buy" someone that counts, it's what you DO for someone.
So here are some preliminary palliative reflections that I'm sure dear readers have been waiting for. Life isn't about what you own, what brand of car you drive, where you work, etc. It's about the people in it. If you have your health, you're golden. If you have your health and love, you are rich. You have almost everything you'll ever need. Yes, I hear you when you say we need money. We do need to pay our bills and eat. However, the reason you have most of those bills is absolutely superfluous. There is so much waste in north America (and other "developed" countries). There is absolutely NO reason that your dog needs a rhinestone collar or a pink coat, there's no reason you need to pay someone to paint your toenails. In fact, about 80% of the things we buy, we don't need. I've been at home for 8 months now (minus the maybe dozen or so outings during the entire time). In those 8 months I've saved so much more money than I ever could when I was living amongst you. Sure I save on car insurance, parking at work, work clothes etc. but I never spent much on clothes to begin with. I've been pretty frugal most of my life that it was an actual dilemma the first time I bought a Coach purse. It felt indulgently silly but I was responding to the part of the "brain" that's influenced by media and pop culture. I tell ya, now that I don't watch the news and am (not) aware about some singer do something called a "twerk" (?) I don't have those brain-cravings to "fit-it". If I can be accepting of myself, that's all I need. When you have low-self-esteem you fall into the trap of believing advertising that tells you you'll be happy if you buy their product. We mistaken want for need.
What I say isn't new. There are lovely FB meme's going around every so often, posted by my more aware friends, but when you're IN the rat race, it's hard to really comprehend the difference between want and need.
My needs for actual things have dropped so much in the past 8 months that I actually had a fight with my spouse who wanted to get me a new phone battery when it proved that it didn't hold a charge longer than an hour. My response to her was that a dying person doesn't need new things and it wasn't out of not feeling like I "deserve" it but that I really didn't NEED a new battery (especially since I don't go anywhere anyway). (As a therapist I also have a problem with the word deserve - don't get me started!)
My desires from people have shifted from things to time. I sincerely value the time my family, friends and acquaintances have spent with me. I gratefully value the visits from people across the world. It means more than a "thing" that I can't take off this planet anyway. Time is priceless. Well, OK, I agree, a flight is expensive, but that in itself is a gift that no one can take away and it's a gift for the both of you.
Love is what's needed in this world.
It is true, the problem with our "developed" society is that we've begun to love things instead of people. You never know when it's your time. You don't - you may think you do, but you don't. I thought I did, but I don't know. I do know, as science does, that my lungs are 'going'. I do know that I probably won't be able to go out AT ALL this winter, if I survive. I do know that I surprise people. They don't say it directly, but they can't keep it from showing up on their face: I look good. That isn't from a place of ego, but a place of knowing - that you can live to die or live to live. So long as I am breathing, I am not going to be defeated. Nor will I walk around like I am. Granted there are days I have zero energy and the most I can do is feed myself and watch another documentary (if I don't snooze half way through it) but why stop smiling? Why stop dancing? Why stop singing? Why stop living?
"As long as you live keep learning how to live" Lucius Seneca.