Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guests, Not Tenants

I probably shouldn't be writing this, but, I'm a writer, or at least I like to think of myself as a writer so I felt the need to share. Maybe that make me more an exhibitionist than a writer, but I'll split the difference with you, if you'll just read.

The last month, has been a sort of barely controlled chaos. Not the kind of chaos that people like me thrive on, ones were we can make lists and prioritize and work our fingers to the bone until the chaos has been turned into order, sparkling beautiful order. No, this chaos is run by outside forces. Just as you get your mind around one thing and start to plan, start to make those lists, just then you get a new piece of information that blows those old plans out of the water. Sometimes, it is a new bit of information from the doctors, that the doctors looked over the new data and decided on a new course of treatment. Other times, it is a change in "the patient"s condition, which changes all the plans, all the treatment plans.

Monday, as I was driving back out to Podunk Town to see my uncle, my mother told me that my uncle's boyfriend had called an ambulance to take him to the local hospital because my uncle had gone from shaky, but able to walk with a walker that afternoon, to not being able to walk at all. Mom was rushing there behind me. We did the hospital merry-go-round because Podunk Hospital's MRI was down so late at night, so we went to Shitty Capital City's Hospital where a neurosurgeon with the bedside manner of a scorpion informed my uncle, his partner, my mother, and I, at 4am, that someone should have told us a long time ago that any and all surgical options were closed to him now and we shouldn't be talking to him but to a radiation specialist.

All the cancer docs talk to each other. My uncle gets moved back to Podunk Hospital, which is closer to his home, his friends, to his oncologist. Snow comes quickly and shows us that "closer" is a relative term, as I'm snowed into the trailer shortly after my uncle's boyfriend and my mom leave to visit the hospital. A Long unplowed driveway and unpaved unplowed roads mean I'm fucked. I so want to re-arrange things, for it to be easier for my uncle to navigate when he gets home, but I don't know where to start and, as he's kinda got that hoarder personality, I worry he'll get upset that I moved his stuff.

My second day of being stuck in the house and I'm getting a little antsy. Should have put in a movie or tv show on dvd but the couch puts me to sleep, though only when I'm not supposed to be sleeping. I took the garbage out. Then I decided to sweep the snow off the cars. It had already started on it's own, but I wanted to help it along. My thought was just to sweep off the car I would drive if I decided to drive anywhere. But then I started thinking about my uncle and my grandpa and how they wouldn't want their cars covered in snow, even if they couldn't go anywhere at all. And then I started crying. Oh, yeah, and then my neighbor showed up.

"Um, so you planning on going anywhere?"

Sniffle. "No, just needed something to do."

"Ok, well, if you don't feel like cooking tonight, you can come on in. I'm sure Candy [his wife] has plenty of leftovers."

Sniffle. Full on snot. "No, I think I'm ok."

Manly pause where he tried to decide what the hell to do with this crying chick. "Um, are you sure you're ok? Cause you can come on inside. Candy's inside."

Through full on tears, "Yep, I'm fine. Thanks alot though. Just gonna finish these cars then I'll go inside." Obviously, work makes me feel better.

Finally all the roads are plowed and I go up to see my uncle. My mom and my uncle's boyfriend are already there. My 'cousin' drives with me to the hospital and my uncle's boyfriend's mother and her bff show up just when we do. Talk about visitor overload, huh? Just before I arrive, my mom has a meeting with a social worker, who tells her that my uncle's insurance might not want to pay for the three day rehabilitation program which would teach my uncle how better get around, in and out of the wheelchair, as, while no one is saying it, is seems obvious that there isn't much hope that he is going to walk again. They may not want to pay because my uncle might not be able to do the rehabilitation, might not have the energy, might not have the ability. (To teach us how to do all this stuff, we'll have the home health care nurse, which is cheaper.) Ok, ok, ok, I'm along so far.

So that my uncle can have a bit of rest before his dinner, we (my mom, my uncle's boyfriend, my 'cousin,' and myself) sit in a waiting area. I wanted to start making plans, when are we gonna move this, where is this gonna go, how long before things are set up for my uncle to come home, how long before those of us who are taking care of him are settled in, can start looking for work. The last two are questions that get skirted around. No one will really look me in the eye when I talk about when I'm moving in, where we'll move the stuff that's currently in the closet so I can use that closet.

"Honey, I think that for right now we should think of ourselves more like guests at his house than tenants." That's when my mom finally met my eyes. I could see what she couldn't say, but I couldn't let it go unsaid.

"Because he won't last long enough for us to move in." She could only nod.

I got up and walked away. I made a few phone calls, but no one picked up. I was a bit relieved. I sent out a text and hir well-intentioned response fell flat. I wanted to talk to everyone but I also felt like no one could or would understand. "Now she's feeling more alone than she ever has before." (BFF) I need to talk but I'm not even sure what I have to say. All I know is that I hope I can stay strong enough, long enough to let this be about my uncle, about our family, not about me. And this was so much easier when I had someone I was physically intimate with. Oh my gods, so much easier.

I'm back at my folks house, in the Suburb of the Smallish Midwestern City. Mom needed to come back, replenish her supplies, as she had packed in a hurry for one night. I'm working on my 6th load of laundry.

I had an envelop with money that I was holding back when an acquaintance of mine finally got her own car, to help with car insurance or what have you. Not a big surprise, but that friendship kinda went kaput and the money is being re-purposed. Now the writing on the outside of the envelop says, "Funeral Outfit."

Sunday, January 09, 2011


For most of my life, I've wanted desperately to be anywhere else, doing anything other than what I was doing. When I was younger, this meant that I rarely got to enjoy what I was doing, as my head was always thinking of the life I'd have once I'd gotten where I wanted to be. In recent years, that's also been combined with wondering how my life might be different, better, "if only," if only I had stuck out that college, that job, that relationship. I always knew intellectually that most people went through this to some extent, but I'd never had someone really confirm it until I talked to a friend tonight.

I fell in love with Buddhism mostly because it was centered on the one thing I found so difficult - being completely present in my everyday life.

It seems to me that sometimes when you really want to be something, fit, intelligent, kind, prestigious, you might start out working really hard but you don't realize that you've made it until well past when you've actually made it, until you realize that the thing you worked so hard but still couldn't get quite right has now become second nature. A big reason I kept wanting to reach out to Sir was because I had started to realize that I had become many of the things he and I had wanted me to become. I didn't really know when it happened or exactly how it happened and I know it hasn't really lead to the life we/I had imagined it would, but, nevertheless, I was molded that way, it seems, when I wasn't paying attention.

This week, I am staying with my uncle, at his place in Podunk Midwest Mapdot. Someone has to give him two large syringes of antibiotics three times a day for six days. Seems silly to stay in a hospital with beds that only torture his weakened back and fractured ribs just to make sure he gets this medication three times a day.

So I'm here this week. And, depending on... well, a great many things, I might be moving out here, to my uncle's or someplace cheap and close. Yes, it's be because it is what is needed an what fits best for my family. But it would also be what I want. For all I might not have followed through on or achieved, getting up at 4am to hook my uncle up to a pump that delivers antibiotics through the chemo port in his chest seems to erase all that loserdom. I could be a bestselling, critically-acclaimed writer of literary novels, but if I didn't do this, I'd be a fucking loser. And, just like that, where I'm needed and where I am are the only place I want to be. And I truly don't care about where else I could be or who with or anything about where my decisions and actions might have led me because, while I wish it wasn't needed and I wouldn't choose why it's needed, there's no place else I want to be, probably for the first time in my life.