Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ask and you...

Elle sat with me on the plaid couch that graced our green-carpeted living room in college. I had learned that Cousin had been diagnosed with MS and I was shocked and very sad. I don't remember what was said before I started to cry. I do recall my friend curling around me, bracing us both against my sobs. She held my hand and made soothing noises and eventually got me tissues when the fourth roommate - a lovely girl who played softball and was boisterously delightful - joined us to hold my other hand.

I thought of that comfort and warmth when I tried to find a not-so-painful position on the chair that folded flat in Mom's hospital room. I wished that someone lived closer who cared about me. Who would hold my hand and smooth my hair and tell me that I was doing the best I could and that was OK.

There were moments of grace in that fourth floor room by the nurses' station. Times when I would feel myself panic and frantically offer prayers until my breathing evened and I could rest. There was one moment - on the first blood draw when I was in the room - that the nurse offered to pray when Mom and I were both in tears after 3 painful and unsuccessful sticks. It calmed us both, though the fourth stick also yielded no blood to fill the tiny vial. So I held Mom's gaze with mine and we recited the Lord's Prayer. By the time Thy kingdom come, the nurse had sighed and whispered that it worked. Mom and I were never alone and the knowledge of that did bring some peace. I went to church this Sunday to say thank you.

Then, on Monday, I winced upon seeing email from Elle in my inbox.

I meant to write her first - a feat I rarely accomplish. It frustrates me, frankly. Elle is wonderful - bright and loving and very funny. She's been a wonderful friend and I miss and love her a great deal. So I worry that my failure to initiate conversations indicates I don't care. And I do.

"I know you're busy." She wrote when I expressed my regret. Which was kind of her and I appreciated it, but it doesn't fix the problem.

I also have loved the supportive comments lately. But I feel they're a bit undeserved. When Aunt called last Friday, I didn't go right away. I waited until she called again a couple hours later with a diagnosis and I sighed after I hung up after promising to start driving soon. I didn't want to go. I'd just returned. I wasn't feeling well myself and had work at the office and at home. I wanted to have my weekend - mow the lawn, weed the flower bed, sleep. Write my papers, deal with my massive lists of things to do. I wasn't eager to return to the hospital and sleep on gross floors. (I was also grateful for my chair - I did sleep and didn't get sick as I did when sleeping on the floor. God bless private rooms and the chairs that fold flat in them.)

I stood in the shower trying to think of excuses. My car wouldn't start? My head hurt? I was so tired of problems that I didn't know how I could tolerate more? I shouldn't miss more work?

"I don't want to go." I told the dog as she perked up at the sight of the suitcase. But I got ready, loaded the car, captured the poor cat and we went home. I couldn't not go. My mom needed me and I had to be there.

"I miss you." She said tonight after Dad called me. "Mom said you were going to call." He said. "But you didn't. So I called you."

"Sorry." I sighed, tired but pleased to hear from him. "I was trying to get some work done and I lost track of time."

"That's OK." He said and we talked for a moment before I talked to Mom again. She sounded good this morning and the trend continued.

"I feel like I'm getting better every day." She confided happily. "I'm tired and I still hurt, but not nearly as badly. If nothing else goes wrong, I think I might actually get well again! Then I could go back to work and watch the girls more often and come see you. I miss you - I've been counting the days until you come home again."

"Just a couple more." I smiled. "And I haven't been gone long."

"It hasn't even been a week, has it?" She said, thinking back to when she was released from the hospital. "It feels like forever since I've seen you. I like having you around."

"I miss you too. And I'll be home on Saturday at the latest." I told her I'd talk to her tomorrow and realized I feel like I just got back - I've been too busy and tired to feel like I've been here long at all.

One of my collaborators asked me to look at a new project. I agreed - weeks ago - and am just starting to analyze some of the data today. If they hadn't planned a meeting this week, I would have let it sit for weeks longer.

Carrie asked me to revisit some of my results for a project she's writing up. It's clear that there's a problem, but I'm not seeing the source. And my brain gets so tired as I try to puzzle it out.

Friend's gerbil died today, the latest in a long list of awful events she's faced lately. And I hate that I can't do more for her. That I don't know what to offer and don't have the resources to figure it out.

I care. I want to help. I hate the feeling of constant pressure and failure. It is very difficult for me to know that I'm doing the best I can and that it simply isn't enough.


Cee said...

You are definitely not undeserving of supportive comments. It doesn't matter that you didn't feel like going again, or were reluctant to do so. You went. Actions matter more than thoughts.

As you said, you're doing the best you can in a fairly impossible situation - I don't think it's actually possible to balance the number of competing priorities you've got on at the moment. Your best is enough.

Anonymous said...

i agree with cee. you are a great daughter/person/etc.
you are in my thoughts and prayers.

psychobunny said...

Cee is right, you know. You do deserve supportive comments. And people can only see the behavior you show them. You went then and you'll continue to go in the future, because you are a wonderful, caring person. You can only do your best, but your best is better than that of many others. Hugs, and try to get some sleep, okay?

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