There are a lot of New Year’s Eve posts all over social media today, reflecting on the year going out. Seems like a lot of us had a….challenging 2014 at best.
I opted out of the “Year In Facebook” thing that people have been doing, where – because of algorithm wackiness – FB chooses photos that maybe aren’t the best representation of the user’s year. For me, most of my indelible images from 2014 don’t appear on my Facebook feed:
- Having a complete breakdown in the E.R. at Melrose Wakefield Hospital, where we sat with my totally discombobulated and frantically addled mother-in-law for over 12 hours. Dementia + UTI = insanity on a level that I still cannot find the proper words for, some six months after the fact. After 3 ½ years of being a primary caregiver, this is the day that broke me, utterly. It was the day I stopped pretending I had it under control.
- The big bag of food left on our porch, from our chef friend Sean. The Styrofoam cooler with a couple of nights worth of meals from my childhood friend, Christine. So many times, when someone is in crisis, we don’t know what to do, and so we say: “Let me know what I can do,” and what I can say now, from experience, is that when you are in that kind of maelstrom, you don’t have an answer for that. It’s not that caregivers don’t need help when you don’t hear from them after you’ve made that offer; it’s that caregivers are just stressed beyond belief and cannot even summon the words, or the courage, to request help. Simple gestures like those of my friends made all the difference to us this year.
- My husband sitting in the leather, Mission Style recliner, learning to tie knots. By early summer, we had to seek placement for my mother-in-law, as her Alzheimer’s had progressed to the point where her needs far exceeded our abilities. In the days following her move to a memory unit, we walked around the house in a fog. When it cleared somewhat, we realized that we could DO STUFF. So Kevin took sailing lessons on the Charles, and taught himself knots. Me – I’m still trying to figure out what to do. I keep going back and forth on singing lessons. So there’s that.
- Visiting the E.R. at Melrose Wakefield Hospital AGAIN, because this time I was walking down the street, minding my own business, when I tripped and faceplanted right on the sidewalk near the Mexican restaurant where we go for take-out. I mention this only because in all my years of fairly severely alcoholic drinking, I never faceplanted. I mean – never. I certainly vomited in public, had screaming fights in parking lots, and maybe made out with people I wasn’t supposed to, but I NEVER FELL ON MY FACE. This year? 12 1/2 years sober – I smashed up my nose and my upper lip and learned just how much it costs to take an ambulance to the E.R. for a couple of Extra Strength Tylenol, once the staff figures out that your nose isn’t broken. Good times
I don’t want a tidy little social media package describing my year because it was anything BUT tidy. It shook me in places I didn’t think were shakeable – or rather – it shook me in places that I didn’t even know were there to be shaken. But there was grace, too, and laughter. And some new friends. And, of course, wigs.