Yesterday some friends cut me a big break. They declared it Audrey Day, and we did things I wanted to do. We went to Casa Orozco, which is probably my favorite restaurant in Livermore. And then we Geocached in downtown Pleasanton, walking up and down Main Street enjoying the beautiful California weather, hunting for little treasures. When it was too cold to continue on, we had dinner and headed for home. We watched The Big Chill (A first for the Youds and Jeremy. A thousandth for Jon and me. It really needs to be viewed a second, third and fiftieth time in order to garner maximum appreciation.), enjoyed Jen's newest concoction, the ever-fabulous Kumquatini (made with official Youd-grown Kumquats), and hot tubbed. All in all it was very relaxing. A day without frozen pipes or insurance premiums or the word 'tumor' or guilt at the fact that I haven't vacuumed in two weeks. While I doubt that Audrey Day will become an annual thing, I have to say that I will cherish it for quite some time.
A new hobby as of last December... Keep your eye on the number in the right column, baby! It's goin' up all the time.
.Monkey & Wife
It could be that the start of a new year isn't relaxing for anyone, or that my sporadic urges to be organized throw off any kind of momentum, but I'm tired. Fatigue seems to be born in my bones each morning. I slap the snooze button like I've always done, but because I'm resigned to the fact that I must wake up soon, I don't go back to sleep afterward anyway. Rather, I think for ten minutes about things, jumpstarting my brain like a motorboat.
Professional liability renewals, instant oatmeal, my brother's anniversary, my aunt arriving from Illinois, no gas in the car, sunglasses, keys, Jon leaving for Baltimore, traffic, receipts, cell phone, Endocrinologist, pedicure, frozen pipes, electric blanket...
My thoughts stream together at a constant rate of flow, a speed I can handle but don't enjoy very much, like a wave of lethargic fruit flies. I hear the hum, almost a lullaby. And if I didn't have the responsibilities associated with wifedom and employment to hold me up, I'd succumb to the tired buzzing in my ears and sleep forever.
Last week we took my mother to the emergency room because her headache had escalated out of control. I watched her face contort under the pressure and pain, I watched her writhe on the cot in the ER, hot and cold, tired, confused. We were there most of the night. The CAT scan revealed a tumor swelling and putting pressure on her brain. The emergency surgery took place almost 18 hours later. During that time I did not sleep. I had things to do, people to talk to. Someday I'll be able to describe the way it felt to be squeezed by anxiety and suffocated by adrenaline, but not today. It hurts.
I went 3 days with only 6 hours of sleep total. And I only cried three times. Once in front of my brother, who responded with the caring embrace of the man I am certain he will one day become. Once on the phone with my aunts when I called to let them in on the situation. And once in front of Amy, who made me hot chocolate and held my hand while we watched The Philadelphia Story; she was my angel. Jon flew home early and met me at the hospital, and he was my hero.
Here I am, one week later. No doubt I'll survive this, either. Mom is at home, healing. Jon is coming home from a make-up trip to the east coast tonight. Work is rough, but I'm rising to the challenge. At her house, Mom is surrounded by a literal garden of encouragement - almost three dozen flower arrangements from family, friends and clients. People are amazing. Miracles do happen.
I brandish my optimism out of self-defense.
No, I say to the demons who dance around me spitting what-ifs and might-have-beens at my feet. No, we're all okay, and I'm going to be a better wife because of the patience and strength I've learned, and Mom will value her life more, and my brothers will treat each other better, and...
The Positivity Sword is heavy, and if I'm not careful, it could come all the way around and cripple me when I least expect it. After all, it's a tiring thing to lie about the way I feel, about the way I expect the next few weeks to go. Hefting the words people want to hear it tough, and I've been doing it for a week now. Pat answers. Mom is better. That's true. She's not raring to go, on top of things, owning her life like a multitasking tornado. And that's what I want to see again. Mom as the boss. Mom as the pinnacle of self-reliance and personal achievement. That's when she'll be all better, and that's just not going to happen any time soon. But when I start telling myself those truths...
Last night I took a hot shower. Water pierced my hair to the root, steaming at my scalp, carving its way behind my ears and down my neck, or over my forehead and washing down, over my cheekbones to my chin. The water coaxed the tears out of me. I wept in that shower, cradling my own face in my hands. My shoulders shook, my legs gave out. I was there until the hot water was gone, and the cold took over. In a flash I was up, out, dry, and doing laundry.
Apparently the fine line between weepy mess and able homemaker is a cold shower. But I didn't laugh at myself. I didn't belittle the ten minutes I'd taken to let the scary truth take over. I didn't call it childish. The Positivity Sword was down and leaning in a corner. My mouth was closed. The dull hum of the thoughtful fruit flies had returned to my head, and I was sagging into my mattress, languishing under the warmth of our electric blanket.
... car wash, book club, Carrillo Architectural Group, additional premium, Hawaii, paycheck, grocery shopping, play practice, lint trap, dentist appointments, baby pictures, water Mom's plants in the morning, eat breakfast, The Patron Saint of Liars, cat food, publication...
And then, thank God, I was asleep.