The Week I Cried
I haven’t written here about all that’s going on with my life right now. There are many reasons why I haven’t written yet there were many times I wanted to open my heart and share with you. If you haven’t noticed I haven’t been online much lately. Some posts have gone out which were pre-scheduled. Some were works in progress that I hastily finished up to keep the blog looking fresh. And many of my social media posts were pre-scheduled as well. But, personally, I’ve been away.
I’ve been away for about 8 weeks, away from blogging, away from homeschooling, away from home, away from my normal life. That’s because I’m living a new normal. It’s a change in the fundamental way my family and I will be living over the next foreseeable future.
8 weeks ago when I called my parents at about 9 p.m. mom told me something was wrong with dad and she couldn’t get him to go to the hospital. I asked if she needed me to come (they live about 4 hours from me), and she said yes. So I packed, drove through a snow storm, sleet, rain and fog to arrive at 2:30 in the a.m.. As soon as I walked in the house I knew something was wrong.
My dad was laying in the floor, mom was in a panic. She had called 911 and about 15 minutes later the squad arrived and my dad was transported to the Emergency Room. They diagnosed him with congestive heart failure and possible pneumonia due to an unknown infection.
That’s where it all began. Siblings were called, and tests began. Within a short amount of time we came to understand that dad was a very sick man. Out of respect for his privacy I won’t go into details on specifics, but multiple serious health problems were involved and each, in and of themselves, could lead to death.
To date, he has been in hospital for 60 days, in 4 different hospitals, he has had 4 different infections, one major surgery, with 3 weeks in ICU. We have a long way to go before he will be considered recovered and we are yet to know what long term deficits he may have. But we are hopeful for a complete recovery.
What we, my siblings and I, have come to see is how much help both parents need. A year and a half ago, mom went through her own major illness and wasn’t expected to survive, but through God’s mercy she did. So for many weeks I have stayed with mom and supported her through dad’s days in hospital many of which were not only out of town for her but outside of her home state. I’ve learned, I’ve grown and I’ve tried to be strong for them both.
Then I came home this week. It’s literally only the second time I’ve been home for more than a day or two since this all began. As soon as I saw my husband I fell apart. I crumbled. I’ve cried all week. My nights are long, I can’t sleep and the overwhelming emotions that I’ve held in over the past 8 weeks came pouring out of my soul.
I cry for the overwhelming physical and mental struggle that I’ve watched both my mother and father go through. I weep for the pressure of bearing the weight of decisions that were life and death. I sob for the emotions I held in during the scariest or worrisome moments. I lament for the things I have seen and done during these weeks that I had to hide in my heart until I had a safe place and time to release them. And, I cry with joy that even though we have much yet to go through, the Lord has seen my father through the worst of it.
My New Normal Life
I joined a caregivers support group. What I’ve learned is that my feelings are normal. I’m grieving. Yes, grieving the loss of the parents I had as I embrace the parents they now are. I’m grieving the loss of all the other normal things in my life as I begin to accept the new normal of what is.
This is my new normal. Caregiver. I’ll be spending time away from the home I have with my husband and son, and I’ll be I’ll be spending 3-4 days each week in my childhood home. I’ll be driving 2 hours each day, waiting with mom at the hospital and advocating for the best interest of my dad. I’ll be cleaning and doing laundry, I’ll be trying to assess their home to determine what needs to be done to make it accessible for aging in place. I’ll be working alongside one of my sisters to manage their finances in the time while my dad is unable to do so. I’ll be trusting others to care for and homeschool my child while I’m away.
And, I’ll be learning. There is so much to learn about caring for aging parents. It isn’t the same as caring for a child. When caring for a child you make decisions and move forward with them. They are, in fact, adults. They deserve to be treated by you and medical staff with dignity and respect. Their opinions and decisions are important and valid, even if you don’t agree. There is information and knowledge that any caregiver needs to know about their parents wishes, their medical insurance, their medical history and even their financial situation. I’ll continue to be learning a great deal as we move forward with the new normal.
This Marriage Moment comes from watching the love shared between these two who are one as they’ve walked through the road of struggle; neither wanting to give up, neither wanting to let go, choosing to fight for more time to spend together.
They are an amazing couple and their life and love have inspired me for all of my life. No one can say they have had an easy life together. Like most, they’ve faced many struggles. But together, they have made it through 58 years of marriage and are still working toward the 59th.