I’m Drowning

Something is brewing deep inside my heart. The emotional stew of stress combining loss, fear, regrets and great sadness. The feeling of loneliness can be excruciating some days. It is amplified here in the house where I live. All of it.

I have always been different. As a young girl I was constantly told I was too sensitive, that I wore my heart on my sleeve, that I should toughen up and not let people hurt me. I’ve always questioned “ why is it me that’s wrong? Why isn’t it you who’s not compassionate enough?” Maybe it has been a little both?

There were very few friends along my path, soul friends I can count two. Two friends out of my 64 years of life that actually reciprocated equally in friendship. One who was my friend from early toddler stage committed suicide in her early 20’s. The second was a young woman I rented an apartment to. She lived upstairs for 4 years. We hit it off instantly and I believed we would be friends until death.

It wasn’t to be. She bought a house in the country with her boyfriend and broke all communication with me. We didn’t argue, there was no animosity. Moving day came, she was gone and that was the end. It was heartbreaking, devastating and I felt betrayed. I still do. For a few years I would send her a happy birthday email but she never responded.

My world has crashed and burned a few times since those days. I keep getting back up brushing myself off and try again. Five years ago I was forced out of the house I had been given to take care of and maintain. Because after years of research I found my fathers family in Italy and made my first ever international trip to meet them. Yup, I scraped enough money together to make the trip. The owner was angry that I had the “audacity” to accomplish a dream and told me to leave.

At a hair appointment with a friend I told her my predicament and without a breath she said “come live at my house.” I moved in here five years ago. I have a bedroom and use of the house. My rent is cheap and all of my belongings are in storage. Including ALL of my art supplies. I sure do miss those. Hand made books in mixed media were my salvation and escape.

A lot of people have come and gone here at the house. There has been turmoil between them and some nice times. But I don’t fit in. In many ways we are completely opposite. They like guns, hard liquor and metal rock. I like bird feeders, a glass of wine now and then, Springsteen and Americana music. Their taste in food is very different than mine, their idea of clean is polar opposite. Meat is cooked very well (think of shoe leather) done, rarely vegetables, salad is a bowl of lettuce nothing more and grease coats everything. Walls, pans etc. Baking pans are black and greasy. Often I will hand wash stuff BEFORE I use it, like the glass measuring cups. I have attempted more than once to degrease but to no avail. The cabinet doors are so embedded with grime the only thing that will save them is sanding them or replacing them.

They think I’m weird and quirky. I am dismissed daily either in conversation or gatherings or whenever they are together. The phrase “family” is used regularly but it doesn’t include me. During conversations I am always interrupted mid sentence rarely ever able to complete it. To these people I am insignificant and have no value.

Recently I have become the target for a couple of them. Christmas dinner I was screamed at by a visiting family member, pounding her hand on the table and telling me to shut up because I had to repeatedly tell her daughters dog to stop humping my leg. Two weeks ago I was yelled at during dinner because her boyfriend was lying about our governor’s mandate to wear masks in public and I spoke up to correct the information. Yesterday I was berated because I picked a piece of apple out of a bowl made for dinner.

I honestly don’t remember when I felt so unwanted, uncomfortable or so alone. At the moment there are absolutely no other options. There is no way I can afford to move and no place I can escape. I’m miserable and though I try to find a moment each day to feel joy, find a positive, something to feel good about the weight just continues. It’s heavy and sad and lonely.

I even question my very existence, my purpose. It’s not that I don’t feel that I have anything to offer, I do. I’m happy with who I am but I’m wondering if who I am just isn’t getting lost in a world of unlike souls. How long before the raft I built falls apart and I drown?

Posted in Me in a Sea | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I miss writing, Mom

It felt so good to write, to release my thoughts and emotions. To put it on a screen and in a sense release it. Writing brought all the jumbled up conversations I had with myself out and organized. There was a freedom then that I don’t feel anymore now. These past few years have been stifling and oppressive, filled with worry and a feeling of not knowing how to navigate through my life. Work is a great distraction for me, I can focus on whatever my role of the day is and not have a thought about where I am in my life.

I wanted to write about my mother who passed away two weeks ago. She died a very slow, painful and agonizing death at the age of 90. The past year especially was unkind and I really had to pull every bit of strength I could to make each visit special. She loved being outside and during the summer I’d get her in a wheelchair and walk her around the little park like areas of the nursing home. She had gone blind about three years ago so as I walked her around I’d describe what I saw and heard. Mom loved the feeling of sun on her face and the smell of fresh air. Once I picked a flower and handed it to her to hold. We put it in a little cup next to her bed so she could smell it. Those tiny moments were special to her.

She agonized terribly over the fact that she had two out of five daughters that refused to visit her. They have been holding anger against her for decades and try as she might to apologize for whatever they felt her wrongs were, they wouldn’t budge. One sister in particular only went once and she wouldn’t go alone, she had to have the other sister with her. That was months before mom died. In the two weeks or so before mom passed it was clear that she was progressively getting closer to her journey on earth ending, regular emails were sent updating everyone. Nothing from the one sister. Mom waited, and waited and waited for her, she never came.

It was excruciating to watch mom suffer both physically and especially mentally. She wanted forgiveness, she wanted the daughters she loved so much to be there, to say goodbye, to say how deeply sorry she was and how deeply she loved them. Two days before her death I had gone up to see mom and as always I bent down and kissed her cheek and said “hi mom, it’s Jacquie. I love you.” Mom spoke her last words to me then, “I love you”. On her last day my one sister and I were there for a few hours, she was unable to speak and slept so we decided to return the next day. Two hours later we got the call that mom had passed, holding the hand of her favorite nurse, Jessie. I was overwhelmed with the thoughts of “I should have stayed”, two hours that’s all it would’ve taken me to be there for her when she left this world. Maybe that’s what she wanted, to go alone, I’ll never know.

What I do know is that in the last few years of her life I did everything I could possibly do for her. I gave her the respect and dignity she deserved and I told her I loved her every time I saw her. There are no regrets for me. Not a single one.

I want to write about how much I miss her, how sad I am that she didn’t get what she so desperately wanted from my two sisters but even getting this much out has been a struggle.

Posted in Me in a Sea | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slowly slipping away

Back in January the Doctor estimated my mother had about six months left on her earthly journey. We’re halfway through the sixth month. After she had the stroke late last summer her brain function has ever so slowly drifted off into bouts of delusions and disconnects. We put her on hospice care at that point.

In 2017 mom lost her eyesight and most of her hearing. The woman who loved music, reading and knitting was left with just sitting or laying in bed. Day in and day out my mother is now just an empty shell of a human body. Her greatest joy is to go outside in a wheelchair and feel the sun on her face. As luck would have it, we here in western NY have had a very chilly and rainy Spring. So the outside trips have been limited. Sometimes we take her downstairs to the cafe for hot coco and a slice of lemon cake. Just to get her out of her room. A change of pace and relief from the boredom.

There is no quality of life for my mother. She prays to God that he take her, she tells me she’s ready to go. I used to get upset when she’d say that but now I just tell her that when the time comes she can go. We will be okay, we’ll miss her but we will be fine.

I went to see her two days ago (work and distance keeps me from going more often). She had miraculously eaten most all of her lunch! The staff doesn’t feed her and if she has to struggle to get food in her mouth she won’t eat. That days lunch was quiche, perfect for her to handle and she likes quiche. Win win. Anyway she was telling me about some awful argument she had with a woman that morning. She said she had asked the woman about “Mr yellow and Mr purple” something about which was double and which was single. Mom said the woman was yelling at her to stand up and when mom refused they got into it. Now mind you, this is the delusion factor and not reality. She also told me that when she came down the stairs in the morning something of hers was missing. My mother can’t walk, say nothing about using stairs. My assumption is that this was all a dream but to her it was very real. Just like when she said that she had filed reports to the FBI that “they” weren’t given food and if they did get fed it was food taken from the trash bins.

My mother is not living any resemblance of a quality of life. I don’t know how the staff does it because I can barely make it through an hour with her. My mother was always kind and polite. The brain damage has changed her so drastically. It’s excruciating to watch her slowly slip away into a place that is so very dark. A place filled with arguments and evil. I wished out loud that she would dream of being out in the pastures or gardens tending cows or picking berries, happier delusions that might calm her soul.

I know her journey is almost over. I know she is leaving soon. What I don’t know is how her body continues to function. I believe God is still preparing a place for her but but waiting and watching from here is painful.

Posted in Me in a Sea | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment