On an usual day at my internship, I was doing the usual things. I walked into a familiar room to ask the usual questions of a new resident. Mrs. M was lying in bed, staring at the wall. She was polite, efficiently answering my questions. And then I said the wrong thing, she corrected me, and my heart got stuck in my throat.
I had been told she was married, and had lived at home with her husband prior to falling and breaking her leg. True.
But 3 days into her stay, her husband died.
He kissed her goodbye after a visit, told her he would be back in the morning, walked outside, collapsed and died in the parking lot.
I didn't know.
And I was faced with realizing that I had said something that made this stranger cry, sob, shake. I had said something that hurt her.
She proceeded to tell me that she didn't go to the funeral. She couldn't bring herself to do it. She said she knew I thought she was an awful person for that. I disagreed.
"I know my limits. I knew I couldn't do that. I knew seeing him in a coffin would break me. I don't want to break."
I apologized, but she insisted that she didn't mind talking about it, with tears running down her face.
I tried not to cry, I really did.
Now I see her every day and we talk. And she tells me that she is thankful that I came into her room that day, and listened to her talk about her husband.
Sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes things happen, completely out of our control, nothing like we planned or could have ever imagined. No one plans to kiss their spouse goodbye and never see them again. No one plans to live 15 years after their spouse dies, and still feel the pang of the loss just the same as if it happened when the sun rose this morning.
Life throws shitty curveballs sometimes.
Her loss was tangible, palpable. It was sufficiating. Even now, I can feel it in my chest. It pulls on my face, weighs heavy on my shoulders.
I can identify with it. Can't we all, on some level?
Lately, loss seems to go hand-in-hand with lost. And fear. And rage. And hope. But mainly lost.
It was a few days before Thanksgiving the day we moved into our last rent house, when the last home we owned flooded. I was determined to have Thanksgiving at my house, even though "my house" was now "4800 square foot home that soooo isn't mine". I was close to a professional at this packing/unpacking thing, but my mom was going to come over and help me focus on organizing the kitchen.
There was a knock at the front door.
Expecting my mom, I called out, "Come in!"
I heard the heavy door slide open, steps on the wood floor entry, and heavy breathing.
I walked around the corner to the entryway, practically colliding with an older woman, much shorter than I. As we came face-to-face, she said "Oh, I am lost".
I had no idea who this woman was, but she was shaking like a leaf, fear like candlelight in her eyes, and she couldn't speak a full sentence. She carried her keys and was wearing a Kohls employee nametag.
It took a good 45 minutes to figure out how she had arrived in my temporary home. She was driving home from work, although I figured out that home for her was about 10 miles west of here. She took a wrong turn, got confused, and was then run off the road by a truck, ending up in our little neighborhood. My temporary home was the only house in a cul-de-sac in the back of the neighborhood. She didn't even recognize that we were just moving in; she couldn't tell me her name, her address, her phone number. Her cell phone was in her car, dead. Her purse: a wallet with no money, no license, a couple of crumpled tissues, a subscription bottle with one address, an envelope with another. I figured out that she lived with her adult daughter, that she was taking medication for dementia, that she had no idea where "home" was, let alone how to get there.
I talked with her, trying to calm her, telling her she was safe and everything would be okay. She continued to shake.
I called the police. They sent a very nice officer out, who was patient and understanding. He got a phone number for her daughter, who just seemed annoyed that her mother was lost again, rather than relieved that she was SAFE. The officer took her to both addresses. We let her car stay in our driveway until the next day. When I woke up the next morning, it was gone. I never heard from her or her daughter again.
She was lost. And while it sounds complicated and confusing, she simply found her way to my front door, walking in unannounced. Her path led her to safety, to a home where people are kind, caring, gentle. She was so confused, and there wasn't much I could do to sort things out for her, but I was able to calm her. I was able to tell her she had been found, however briefly it would last.
I find myself thinking of her lately, at the most random times. I woke the other night from a crappy dream, and her frail hands came to mind. I wonder how she is, if she still drives, if she still gets lost. I sympathize with her.
I feel lost. And while it certainly is complicated and confusing, I am trying to find my way to safety. I am trying to find things to calm me, ease my frustration and anxiety, guide me towards happiness and peace. There are days where this path feels endless-will I ever stop being lost? If I stay on this path, where will I turn at the next crossroads? What's the right thing to do? Will someone run me off my path, pull me in a wrong direction, distract me? There are days where I look in the mirror and see that fear reflected in my eyes like candlelight. I am out of control, topsy-turvy, barrelling through my days so I can fall into my cool sheets at night and fade into my dreams. The fear is overpowering, mindnumbing-I taste it like metal on my tongue. Concentration is impossible. Walking a straight line, carrying on a conversation-all impossible.
I want life to be easy. I want my path to lead to someone safe, warm, caring, kind. Someone who can tell me where to go, what to do, what path I'm meant to go down next. I want someone to hold my hand, calm me, whisper "It will be okay".
My mother does these things. And in my heart I know that I will be okay, no matter what. I know that things will work out, one way or another. It's the not knowing that is so hard. It's the not knowing what path to choose, what decisions to make...do I leap back in with a head full of trust? Do I hold my cards close to my heart?
For now, I try to swallow the terror threatening to boil over.
For now, I breathe in and out, slowly, deeply, focused.
For now, I focus on hope, on small joys, on that feeling of calm and peace I used to know.
For now, I accept being lost.
Well hello there. Yes, yes, I am still alive. I haven't forgotten about any of you, and I really do miss you guys. I miss reading your blogs, I miss tweeting w/ you, I miss your comments here, I miss sharing a chunk of my heart with you here, pouring it out, letting it take it's own shape as it settles. I miss writing, like I miss my old man dog. It's always in the back of my head, always this ache in my soul, that I'm wasting valuable time, wasting these thoughts and words, when I should be writing them down, keeping them close.
My semester was full of so many experiences, things I never thought I would face. I love my internship-I feel so comfortable there, and am thankful I get to be there this summer too. I don't even want to think about having to leave there in August. My classes have been challenging, yet I have loved the challenge. My independent study...well, I sorta dropped the ball on that one, but still ended up with an A.
I'm embarking on uncharted territory, for me anyway. I am in a new place in my life, one that feels worn in, beat down, but somewhat familiar. I have so much going on in my head, stifling my words, my writing.
So I fill my head with music, that other thing that is so much me. My ipod is overflowing, and I just keep adding more and more and more......music has always been such a large part of my life, and I intend to keep it that way. It's getting me through this time, along with wonderful friends and the most amazing mother I could ever ask for.
There is no easy way to explain my absence, my mood, my lack of BEING THERE for wonderful people here online. I don't want to drop out of people's lives; I was not made to be a loner. But it's exactly what I've done, and for that I am sad. There are many of you going through things right now that I haven't been able to support you in, and I am sorry. Please know I am thinking of you, praying for you, and loving you from afar.
I WILL be back here. I hope you will too.