Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Struggle is Real

You came up in conversation today like so many days before, only today, I cried.  One minute the conversation was about me needing new eye glasses and the next minute we were talking about how hopeful you were that you just needed new glasses.  You see, it was September and you had started driving again after not being behind the wheel for six months.  You loved that you were driving again.  Even though the doctor said you should have a licensed driver with you in the passenger seat, it gave you a sense of independence and more importantly, it made you feel whole.  It gave me hope.  It gave all of us hope.  Then in a proverbial blink of an eye, you asked someone else to drive.  You went to the optometrist for a check up and a new Rx but the new glasses didn't seem to make much of a difference.  You were disappointed and I was uneasy.

I went away for a weekend in October and when I came back, you told me you had fallen and  made me promise not to tell. I convinced you to call the doctor and you moved your six month follow up appointment up by a week.  We all assured you the check up was for your piece of mind and that the news would be good.  We talked about you returning to work, living alone and having me close by if you needed me.  We made plans for the holidays, talked on the phone and ran errands on the weekends.  On the day of your appointment, we found out you had another tumor. This one was small and in an entirely different area, a walk in the park in comparison to the first one.  Your surgery was a breeze.  You spoke to me hours after surgery and you were back at home in two days, not two months.

By Thanksgiving you complained of no vision in your left eye.  Gaylynn got you a fancy eye patch and we all had dinner together.  The beginning of December, you started radiation.  You fell on Saturday afternoon and again Saturday night.  We went back to the hospital only to learn you had another tumor.  This one was more like the first than the second.  We weighed our odds, listened while the doctors talked, prayed, listened some more then asked you what you wanted to do.  You chose another surgery.  Just one more, you said and so you did.  In pre-op the nurses recognized you.  You asked for an upgrade and frequent flyer points.

We celebrated Christmas with you in rehab.  We had presents in our pajamas and drank mimosas, just like we did every year.  You were happy when you looked at the tree and we took pictures.  The next day you saw the tree again and it was like you were seeing it for the first time.  You started talking less instead of more and my heart broke more instead of less. You went from rehab to in-patient hospice and from hospice, home.   We settled you in your living room and I called your name until you opened your eyes. We desperately wanted you to know you were home.

You died on a Monday in February.  There was a beautiful full moon that evening and I must have taken a dozen pictures of it.  The night was crisp and cool and perfect and I kept thinking of you and your Wolf pack and the full moon. For your encore, the day of your service was unseasonably warm and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  I came home that afternoon to find the first daffodil of the season staring at me from my garden.  I knew it was you.

Most days my heart doesn't break.  God has been good and patient and kind. I've found a balance that serves me well.  But today my heart is broken and the struggle is real. Tomorrow is 19 months since I last held your hand.  I miss your laughter, your face, your sarcasm, your unrelenting support of whatever I'm doing, your companionship, your poor choice in bars, your taste in music and a hundred other things.  In the end, I miss my friend, my partner in crime, my sister.  I just wanted you to know.

I love you,

P.S. Tin Cup is on T.V and I'm watching it as I type. I know that's you but thanks for making it obvious.

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