November 26, 2013
Ten months ago today, Gery had his seizure. Nine months ago on Thursday, he died. Thursday is Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. It means so much to me because (long story short) my mother and two of my brothers (she was pregnant with the youngest) and I ran away from my father in Georgia and arrived in Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving Day. We were met by my favorite aunt and came to live with my grandmother. I had no idea then how very dangerous our lives had become or how dangerous the running away was, but I did understand three days on a bus, followed by baths and clean clothes and a lot of food.
It mattered to me to have my family together on Thanksgiving. Gery and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the past 8 years. This year, we're not. Obviously. One of my brothers can't come. Two of them will be there. "There," though, is not my house. We're going to my inlaws' for dinner.
This is no longer my favorite holiday. I don't know that I have a favorite anything anymore. Everywhere I go, I feel like I'm on the outside. I'm an extra. An odd number at the table. I drive myself and I leave alone. Nobody holds my hand, except Sarah, and even that is fading because she is a very big girl.
I don't want to be a burden. I don't want to be an outsider or an odd number. I'd rather skip it all. I'm not handling this well and I am irritating even myself because I can't snap out of it. I can't fix it. I feel like I'm whining constantly. Who wants to hear how sad and lonely I am when they're in love? Pregnant? Shiny new baby? Happy family of four on a beautiful snow covered Christmas card? I'm none of those things and I'm bitter.
The things I wanted and dreamed about and planned will never happen. I'm grieving the loss of my own life as much as I'm grieving the loss of Gery's. People tell me they think I'm strong, that I've handled this with grace. Maybe I have. Maybe the reality is that I haven't handled anything and here I am facing what I've ignored, which is that I am alone. It is extremely tempting to isolate myself further because I cannot believe that anyone would want to be around me right now.
I wish I could end this on some happy note, saying that I've realized something profound. I haven't. I'm depressed and sad and lonely and I'm struggling just to get up every morning. To provide any kind of life for Sarah. To connect to my family and friends when I want to close everyone out. I have hope that one day, if I keep trying, that I will feel like I'm in sync with this world again.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
It was very strange, getting up in the morning after the sun was up. Gery always left for work before me, but because neither of us were going anywhere, we slept in. I took Sarah to daycare so I could make phone calls, but I had to make Gery ride along with me because leaving him alone was just too much to handle. Even for the half hour it would take, I couldn’t have managed to leave him unsupervised after seeing him have those seizures. We went in, I tried to briefly explain things to the director, but she had questions and Gery had a lot to say.
I called the neurosurgeon to make an appointment. I was transferred to the physician’s assistant who would come to handle absolutely everything for me from Gery’s disability paperwork to my FMLA paperwork to labs and prescriptions and coordination of his many, many evaluations and appointments. She asked me to keep the phone by me so she could get back to me with an appointment time. I assumed it would be a week or so, since Gery was going to be seeing a big cheese. Wrong. The appointment was scheduled for the next day.
I texted Gery’s parents and sisters to let them know, and his mom said she would come along. I was grateful. My ability to understand all this was limited (though I asked a lot of questions, did a lot of research, and came to know much more than I ever thought possible), and she both knew the right questions and was another set of ears to remember information.
**Gery was not a reliable historian of the things that had happened that brought us here, and he was still unable to move information from short to long term memory. He was often confused and frustrated, and relied a lot on me and the people he was with to answer simple questions. I came to the point where I would not send him out with anyone who couldn’t keep him from getting agitated. Immediate family and extremely close friends, yes. People who could remember that he liked a steak burrito with hot salsa and no beans at Chipotle, and not ask him what he wanted. It sounds so silly and simple now. Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
I know I called my office and his and spent a lot of time setting up availability for us both to be off, but I don’t remember the details of the conversations. I know I talked to friends from college, to extended family members, and that when I went to talk to him about it, he was asleep. He started napping all the time. He had apparently been falling asleep every day after work – he would pick Sarah up, come home, and fall asleep. She didn’t tell me until after he was gone. Not that it would have made a difference for him; I wish I’d known that she was pretty much unsupervised for an hour every afternoon.
I woke him, made him ride along to pick Sarah up, and we came home and I made dinner. A normal end to an extremely abnormal day. The next day was even stranger.