By Christopher Green
This is something new for me, talking openly about this feeling of hope. I have been eternally hopeful for most of my life, carrying with me, a Scarlet O’Hara like optimism that tomorrow would be a better day and that I would always be able to handle anything that came my way.
Some might call it spirituality based on divine hope.
But, after my last bout with lung bugs, my hope was basically shattered.
Since Laurie’s mother was deteriorating and ultimately passed on soon after I came home from the hospital, I have tried very hard to keep my doubts, my fears and my diminished hope from her. Dealing with her mother’s death was more than enough to have on her plate.
As a matter of fact, she is learning about this challenge to my hope quotient for the first time as she proofreads this post. I had my doubts starting last year and was concerned that I would not be able to muster enough inner strength to keep dealing with all that challenges me anymore.
Starting this blog was a big step in recapturing that hope. I felt a little lost and left on my own. I hear stories about how families rally around people in trouble and yet it was a few people outside of my family who propped me, and, by extension, Laurie up when we needed it the most.
Two people have been there for me when I needed them most. One is my friend from California, Peggy. Gracious and kind and generous to a fault, she was there to listen when I needed to vent.
Another Good Friend, Brenda, I have talked about her before, is going through her own family troubles now and I know she is strong enough to pull through and be better on the other side no matter what. She is a survivor.
But, because of her troubles, I have come to the conclusion that I need to stop relying on her so much. She has so many other things on her plate that it is not fair for me to ask her to schlep me over to the Cleveland Clinic. I owe her a lot. But, I believe she needs me to step back from her life so she can concentrate on everything that comes with being the rock of her extended family. I will always be grateful to her and I will miss her friendship.
At this point, I feel a little like Blanche riding that Streetcar named Desire while depending on the kindness of strangers.
Brenda gave me hope and faith in basic human kindness when I could not muster it myself and felt that I should not turn to Laurie. I have been more than a burden to her over the decades and believed she really needed the time to grieve the loss of her mother, so that we can get on with the rest of our life together.
We are both in a better place now. Laurie is more confident than I have ever seen her before and now, that she feels professionally secure, she will be able to take paid time off to take me to the Clinic. And I am sure my nephew, Elliot, and his significant other, Margaret, would pitch in, as they have so many times over the last few years, if I needed their help.
This past Christmas was one of the best holidays I have had in a very long time. My sister and her husband put together a meal that would rival those put out by any host at the Food Channel could muster. But the bonus part about my relationship with them is that they have patiently answered my medical questions over the years and have always given me good advice.
Remember, it was my sister who steered me toward the good Dr. Sharma. You might remember that he was the physician who was able to finally, properly diagnose my condition.
Every time I have been in the hospital over the last 10 years, they were always there to give me comfort. Having family who are health care professionals helps me by proxy.
So why was this Christmas better than the last several? Well, first I have to signal back to last year when Laurie and I went to their house for Christmas. We all laughed and giggled and then sat down and watched the movie, Polar Express. I was so relaxed, so peaceful that I did not even heckle the movie. It was a nice way to shake off what was left from my 18-day stay at Fairview Hospital. After all, I was still struggling at the time and almost could not make it up the steps.
However, this Christmas, my brother Steve came up and we came together as a family at my sister’s home for dinner. Elliot and Margaret were there as well to add that youthful flavor that all family celebrations should have.
Marvelous food, good company and even pictures of the three of us when we were young were passed around to laugh and reminisce about. And it was served on our mother’s dining room furniture. I think this is the first time since the early 90’s that we all gathered for the holiday at one of our homes.
Speaking of which, the long and winding road that started with laying down laminate floors in our home back in the summer of 2009 is ending up with a new bathroom, a greatly expanded living area and a good size laundry room. The house is all on one floor, so it will be perfect for us as we pad off into our golden years.
Having your house in a constant state of flux for almost two years is wearing enough for healthy people, let alone a person like me with chronic illness. Tobi, our wonderful jack-of-all-trades guy who can pretty much realize anything Laurie and I can conceptualize, is putting the finishing touches on this, our last big inside project.
I have to tell you it has been hard to work, hard to concentrate and even harder to find that inner peace I need over the last year with all the commotion. It was fine when I was concentrating like a laser beam on performing as best as I could for those tests. However, after the good news, I had to dig down deep to find my missing hope.
Therefore, I am back in the saddle. All this is coming together. Betty is gone but not forgotten and Brenda, well she is pretty much out of my life for now. Isn’t life strange and wonderful that people come in and out of our lives to enrich our journey and then, for whatever reason, move on?
In the end, that leaves Laurie and me where we have been since 1988. We were not always on the same page, but I see that all the turmoil that roiled our life since I was declared disabled back in 2001 has made us both stronger.
There is still a lot of shifting through of all the stuff we accumulated over the years, but now, thanks to Tobi, we have places to store the stuff we want to keep without renting out a garage somewhere. (Personally, I think that is a sign of how corrupted our society is that we have to have so much stuff that we need to rent a place to stow it all.)
I am ready for tax season, scaled back, of course. I am ready to write for the blog, but also get back to writing fiction. And I have rediscovered my love for making music from an old friend of mine who last New Years’ talked me into buying a guitar that didn’t fight back while I was trying to play. Thanks for the help on that one, Scott. If you have not checked out the songs I have put up on YouTube, please check them out.
You can start here:
You can find the rest of my “performances” by clicking on the eight videos area above the display screen.
Next installment, the first for 2011, will be all about my early drinking years.
Peace to all who read this blog and good cheer to all who need it.
I guess it is true about me, that hope does springs eternal even if it takes a detour now and again.