Thursday, July 20, 2017

#34, July 8, 2015, From Whence Strength Comes

This is another transcription from the journal I kept during that last sad, wonderful year of Dave's life. It got lost in the order, however, the situation and feelings it describes still fit.

Today’s canticle: “It is not by strength that one prevails.” That is surely true of these times.

I watch Dave sinking every day, getting weaker and more tired, the light slowly draining from him and I feel like someone is scooping out my innards with a spoon. I can’t imagine a world without him in it.

I don’t even know why I’m crying. Feeling sorry for myself, for all we planned and will not have, for his pain and bone weariness.

He was so tired yesterday. Took him for a ride, but had little pleasure in it.

It feels like this will be his last summer, the last times he will feel a warm breeze or see green hills. I want to fill him up with it, but some days he just can’t.

And there is nothing to do for it. My own body does not betray me as it does him and I am thankful for that—I can walk through all the days and get everything done but it’s not a physical strength that makes it possible. It’s something else—the life force I still don’t understand—it’s a river of the Lord that runs through bearing me up with it, carrying me along without ability or consent. It takes me unwillingly where I must go. I move my arms and legs. I gasp and shout, but the impetus comes from without. I am surviving but do not like this one bit.


Friday, July 14, 2017

#37, July 14, 2015, Another Respite

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.
What kind of respite is this?
Is it a time like the last one, in which Dave showed signs of life and hope, only to collapse into months of weakness? It seems so. But even if it is only a breath of relief for us both, it is still that. Breath. And we are enjoying it. Rides that bring real enjoyment of the beauty of this verdant world along with the spirit of adventure that has so marked our lives together.

And today he has planned another—an actual day trip I did not think we would ever do again.

The canticles I read every morning provide melodic backdrop to all of this, too. Related experiences full of love and fear and rescue and faith. Reminders of God’s constant awareness and over-arching care. Whatever happens, I do not need to fear.

Image: Pixabay

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#36, July 12, 2015, Finding the Plateau

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

May and June flew by, but this month dallies. Last week and this coming week are stunningly free on engagements and I revel in them.

Last week, Dave was almost sullen—weak and tired and without smiles. Then on Friday, after the rehab gals sent him to the ER again, he perked up. Something stabilized, even before they did anything or gave him the fluids they eventually gave him. After we left the ER, we went shopping at the co-op and to a fish fry in which he ate all of his and some of mine. He was good, very good, and remains so through Saturday and into today.

And what do I do? I keep wondering whether these are his last good days. There is no relaxing into them. It feels like a long, slow descent punctuated by the occasional sunny plateau that provides a bit of rest. I am doing this very badly, but I don’t know what else to do.

Live each day? I live, but am still not loving except with whatever steadfast care I can bring. This is the most confusing season.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

#35, July 9, 2015, All Tied Up

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

 I am tied to Dave’s health condition and attitude on any given day and don’t know how to get untied without loving less at the same time. I want to love him and empathize, but don’t know how to do it without sinking down with him on the days he feels so sick and discouraged. 

His illness is not a straight line. Some days, he smiles even in weakness and some he can barely raise his eyes above the rim of his dizziness and weakness. I can’t make any of it go away. I can’t protect him. I can, however, walk with him, witness to his weariness and discomfort. I can show him that I will be here no matter what even when we are both afraid.

So, yesterday, when Knute came over and asked me how Dave was doing, I just cried. He, Dave, was so discouraged, so weak and tired of being sick. Then later, he took a nap, went to rehab, and was better. That’s when I got it. The minute he felt better, I did too.

That’s OK up to a point, but doesn’t include much trust in God. Somehow, it has to be possible to enter completely in while still trusting that God will be holding me. And He will. I know it. This is way past any of my own ability to lift myself out of it. I have to enter in, resting in God, and let Him hold me up.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#33, July 6, 2015, Pain

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

 If I allow myself to love, I am without defense. 

If I allow myself to love, I will be undone. 

I will faint and wail and know pain to my very core. I am starting to feel it already, in moments like hot lightening, like cruel killing explosions that blot out everything else but blinding pain. 

If I let myself love, I feel like I will not survive this.

Image: SCI Total Fitness

Monday, July 3, 2017

#32, July 3, 2105, Smelling Breakfast

Sitting in bed thinking about what it was like at Kathy's to smell breakfast cooking before I got up—the luxury of someone else doing something warm and delicious while I lay in, snug and still. I never thought that there would ever come a place when I would yearn for that—someone to take care of me in that distant intimacy. Now, if it comes ever again, it will undoubtedly be in some nursing home where I’ll have to share a room with another old lady, undoubtedly someone who snores and farts like an old dog. I like this better, I think.

Today is full of have-tos: cats, breakfast for Dave, Knute, and Bryan (my fault—it’s the only thing I know how to do and Bryan asked for biscuits and gravy), Dave to PT, some kind of supper. As easy as these are, I am not mustering any want-tos.

Instead, these days are perfect—sunny and 70’s. I want to be in this day. Maybe I’ll pick some of the easy blackcaps and make something sweet with them.

Trying to reach for something I want to, not what I have to, and can’t quite get my hand around it. But then, Dave must be sick, Bryan must be alone, Jean must drive to see us, Audrey must wake up without John again. The musts form life, I guess. The wants are only frosting. They’ll make me sick if I have too much.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

#31, June 30, 2015, The Breathing

The last day of June. Cool nights, warm days. Gentle. Beautiful.

Just spent a couple of days at Kathy’s in Milwaukee and on the first morning, fell on my knees in gratitude without completely knowing why. But it had something to do with the lifting of illness and of worry and of responsibility while knowing Dave was safe. And as I lay in bed yesterday, listening to him cough—he coughs so much now—I think about how he gets no break from it. I have the physical care of him, but he has the disease. He never gets to take a free, unburdened breath.

This is what I want—to find the beauty among all of this—the promise and the poem. It has to be here somewhere. Breath is not life, but in the breathing, in the beating of our hearts, life rises.

Image: from Motor Impairment