Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Are You? Good Question.

One of the questions that is asked of me most often is also the one that’s hardest for me to answer: How are you?

It’s insane how many ways my life fits that question.

How is your health? How is your pain? How is your spirit? How is your grief? How is your attitude? How is your strength?

A friend texted me the other day and said, “How are you?” and I replied, “Honestly, I have no idea.”

It was the best I could do.

I have so many emails in my inbox from all of you asking how I am, and I really want to give you an answer. I owe you an answer simply because you care about me and I appreciate that beyond words. So I’m going to try to say something more than, “I have no idea.” :)

My health and pain? It’s been fairly rough. It was actually pretty rough before Dad died. That morning before anything in my world had gone wrong, my nurses were worried about my vitals and breathing and checking with the doctor about it.

Then that afternoon Dad died and it all went to hell in a hand basket.

But my vitals are good now and my breathing is as good as it knows how to get. I spent about 2 1/2 months throwing up multiple times a day and adopting an ulcer, but new meds are helping with that as well. {YAY!} I can’t eat much, but what I am able to eat I’m keeping down for the most part. I’ve developed new allergies to new things, which is not uncommon when my system is as worn down as it has been. But, in all honesty, that’s more of a nuisance to me now than it is something I actually get upset over.

The pain has been high, higher than it used to be. But my nurses and doctors have been great and we’ve upped some of the meds as we’ve needed to. As has been the case for quite a few years now, when I take three steps back I only seem to take one step forward again, and for now I’m just waiting to see how big that one step is going to be. It’s hard to tell when the weather is changing between seasons because the fluctuations tend to make the pain and migraines increase as well.

So, I will do what I’ve gotten very good at over the years: I will wait and see.

How’s that for my body update in a concise nutshell? :)

As for the rest of it, I think I’m doing pretty well. My faith is strong. My spirit is strong. My attitude is the same it’s always been. I choose joy. It’s just that along with that joy is grief and heart break. I’m learning that grief and this reality seem to get harder instead of easier with time. And I’ll just keep taking that as it comes.

As far as the isolation part goes? It’s been different.

I accepted being homebound pretty easily, I think. I know that sounds strange... and believe me when I say that, at times, it has been both painful to my heart and a struggle to my soul. But the trust I have outweighs those things. I trust that God has it covered, He as ME covered, so I take the pain in my heart and struggle in my soul and I give them to Him.

Simplistic? Yes. But often simple is what works best for me.

Since Dad died, since I was stuck here during the time everyone celebrated him, I have felt more stuck. It feels less like a choice I made to hand it to God and more like a decision that I didn’t particularly care for. At the same time, in a completely opposite emotion, I feel like there is no place on earth outside this condo that I would really want to be anymore. I feel like there couldn’t be any place on earth more important than my dad’s wake. There couldn’t be anything more sacred than touching his hand. And if I couldn’t be there, then there is no place else to go.

I sometimes wonder if going back to familiar places would help or hurt. Heal or make it too real. If being at his final resting place would help me make sense of it or just leave me wanting. And then I realize all that wondering doesn’t make a bit of difference. Because what I need to do is embrace this life for what it is.

It feels as confusing to me as it sounds to you. Trust me.

But, confusing or not, that’s what being homebound feels like. Don’t worry, I’m not in some depression funk. I grieve Dad daily. Tears spill out of my eyes at the strangest times when I don’t even feel like I’m physically crying. But I laugh over funny things. You would laugh at me still making up ridiculous songs that I sing to Riley. [Don’t judge. We get bored.] I choose the moments of joy even when I have to search for them, and I give the frustrating things no more weight than they deserve.

I’m living life the same.

Only different.

Because it is different now. Dad’s feet are not firmly planted on the soil and that made the gravity shift for us a bit. And we’re all still adjusting.

But as my mom keeps saying, we are keeping our attitude of gratitude. And I am embracing my one little word for this year even more. My goal is to keep being gracious. To love generously. To accept love with grace and humility. To be gracious in accepting the changes in our lives with open hands... palms facing upward to receive all that is given. All that seems good, all that seems bad and all that is in between.

When I look back on what I wrote about the word gracious at the start of the year, I realize that – more than it describes how I have approached life – it describes how all of you have approached me.

You have loved me with grace and patience and abundance. You have brought joy to me and made me laugh and gave me the space to grieve as I need.

So, I guess when you ask me how I am, I will have to answer with grace and say that, more than anything else:

I am blessed.

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