Head under water, and you tell me, to breathe easy for awhile. The breathing gets harder, even I know that.
I've had a couple of posts spinning around in my head. One is about work, and one is about my Mom; and they are strangely related.
Every day at work over the past few months, we've all been waiting. Waiting on the fate of our company. Waiting to be told how it will effect all of us. Waiting to hear word about how long all of this will take. Waiting. I know I don't have any control over any of it. I've tried not to think about it, but it's hard to avoid. It creeps into my dreams. I took a few days off recently, left my blackberry behind and avoided the Internet and the news like the plague. Yet, on Sunday night, I dreamt that I was being laid off the following day at work. My boss handed me five checks, all for random amounts - $7.19, $238.20 - and he couldn't tell me exactly what they were for. Then I had to leave my blackberry at work and forgot to pull all my personal contacts off of it, so I couldn't call any of my friends to tell them what happened. Not the greatest night sleep, to say the least. My friends and family ask me periodically how things at work are going, and I'm not sure if it helps or causes more anxiety, because I'm still waiting. There's not much to talk about and not much I can do to prepare for it. What will happen, will happen, and I'll just have to deal with it when it comes.
Recently, my good friend Marisa lost her Father unexpectedly. He went in for open heart surgery, but there was no reason at all to think that he wouldn't come out of it just fine. Despite needing the surgery, he was otherwise healthy and strong. The doctors were not concerned. I was assuring her that everything would be alright, and telling her about how routine these surgeries are. His actual surgery went fine, but afterwards his blood would not coagulate, and they lost him. I was so sad for Marisa and her family, but I can't say that I was truly surprised about what happened. It's almost like, in the back of my mind, I was almost expecting it.
I lost my own Father of cancer when I was eleven years old. I think that having gone through losing a parent at a young age, my illusions of forever were shattered very early in life. I knew the reality that people do die. No matter how much you don't want them to.
My Dad didn't ever admit that he was dying though, even when he was very, very sick. Whether it was because he didn't want us - his kids - to know that he would die, or whether it was because he himself didn't actually believe he would die, I'll never know. My Mom tells a story about a time very close to the end of his life, when he was lying in the hospital bed looking worse than he had ever looked. My Mom and the doctor were talking, when my Dad looked at them and said, "Well Doc, I think I'm finally getting better!". That, to me, defines hope.
Thankfully, my Mom knew better than to let us live in a fantasy. Even as our Dad would talk to my sister and I about all the things we were going to do when he got better, our Mom prepared us for the fact that our Dad would most likely never get out of the hospital. I remember vividly the day my Mom picked me up from after-school care and drove to a park where she told me that my Dad had died. I knew, before she even said anything. I knew. I'm not sure whether my sister, at eight years old, knew like I did. I was there when my Mom told her, and I still cry whenever I think about that moment. She came home, excited to show Daddy her Brownie buttons. I was crushed that she was about to be consumed by this sadness and I couldn't do anything to stop it.
I think that because of this, there's a part of me that expects the worst.
My sister wrote recently about an incident with our Mom. Our Mom never remarried after our Dad died, and she lives on her own about an hour from my house, ten minutes from my sister. She'll be turning 75 next month. One Saturday, our Mom was supposed to attend a Family Fun Run and Carnival with my sister, but had called my sister in the morning to cancel because she was feeling dizzy and thought she should rest. On that same day, I had been trying to call our Mom, but her phone was busy all day. By the evening, my sister and I were worried, and debating what to do. I was an hour away, and her husband was out of town - making it difficult for either of us to run over there and check on her. It wasn't unheard of that our Mom would leave the phone off the hook and not realize it. We decided that my sister would go to her house after dropping off the kids the next morning. I don't think either of us slept that night.
The next morning, I kept thinking... I'm sure everything is just fine. But, in the back of my mind, it was there. The possibility that things were not just fine. I would not have been surprised if my sister had called me to say that she was not alright. I was almost expecting it.
Thankfully, things were just fine. Our Mom didn't even realize that the phone was not working. I didn't find out until later, that my sister was terrified as she was walking into our Mom's house. It just didn't occur to me that she wouldn't also be somehow prepared for the worst. My sister says in her post that she feels like we are living in a state of fear. And we are. I fear that we won't be able to get our Mom to move into an assisted living when the time comes. I fear that she will cut her life shorter than it could be by not taking care of herself. I fear telling my kids when their beloved Grammy isn't with us anymore. I fear going through years and years of my Mom's collections after she is gone.
But as far as my Mom actually dying, I feel like I'm waiting, and I hope to be waiting for a long, long time.