The Elf Returns

I write this as someone that’s finding their way back to something they love.  I write this as someone that has been through a lot and wants to share their experience.  This is a heavy post.  This isn’t the typical posts of the past (I promise they will return, I just felt I needed to get this out of the way).  I wrote this as much for the people in my life, as I did for the people that read this blog (if you remain).

Blogs come and go.  Most of us have subscribed to one and seen how quickly they can be abandoned.  Sometimes life draws us away from the things that have become part of our routine.  Some people abandon it simply because they don’t care anymore.  Their fun was had and now it’s time for something else.  I never felt that the latter was the reason I stopped blogging.  It wasn’t because I didn’t care.  In the time since I started this blog, I’ve had a great deal happen in my life.  I sat down and started this post three or four times, before finally deciding this would be the final draft.  It’s difficult to put into words, all that I have experienced.  Even still, I feel I do myself a disservice.  My life has been hard.  Not with as much difficulty as my mother’s but still, I had my own struggles.

The year 2015 was a quagmire of bad luck and doctors’ appointments.  My mom began paracentesis treatments twice a month, lasting from early in the morning until one or two in the afternoon when she would be released to go home.  One of the more difficult aspects of these treatments was that she could not stand on her own.  She had fallen and fractured her foot on July 4th and then another fracture at Dialysis to the other foot.  It was a battle to get her admitted to therapy (insanely difficult, you couldn’t go to the rehabilitation center unless you could stand).  She worked hard to get to the point of dressing herself each day.  To be able to stand and get on the toilet.  She smiled because she was our little fighter.  And despite that cherubic smile, her resolve was deteriorating.

From December till March, my life was a game of running back and forth.  I spent my time split between my grandmother and my mom.  My father would get her dressed, on the bus to dialysis, and then get her off the bus.  It was often that I cooked her lunch, sat up with her and tended to whatever she asked me to do.  Sometimes I would sneak in a nap if possible or play on the computer.  Ever since my mother’s fall, I had developed this overwhelming fear that she would fall again and this fall would cause irreparable damage.  If I heard her wake, I would rush into the other room.  If she tried to sit up in her wheelchair, I would hurry over to lock the brakes.

My nights were spent at my computer but not always playing or writing.  I was listening, waiting for the moment I would hear her call for me or hear her grunt, as she tried to sit up in bed.  She was always in pain. No matter what medication the doctor prescribed, the pain was an agony that wouldn’t spare her.  Sometimes I would have nightmares that she would fall.  I could hear her scream in my dreams.  We managed to get her through therapy and was preparing to start her on the next round of therapy.  Everything was going great.  And then the accident happened.  Her wheelchair tipped over on the way to dialysis.  It wasn’t buckled in properly.  Or something had slipped.  There was no real explanation.  She had hit the window and the force of the throw had aggravated her old injuries.  Both feet were fractured again.  She would have to start over.  The transportation service paid her medical bills, simply because my dad caused enough noise that they knew the driver had been at fault.  We might have taken legal action against them, but there were complications.

I remember sitting in the emergency room with her and feeling hopeless.  It was clear in her eyes, in her expression, that she had fractured more than just her feet.  Her fighting spirit was waning.  She was back to using the transfer board.  The large boot she had been prescribed was on one foot and a splint on the other.  The medication numbed some of the pain but not enough to make her comfortable.  There was always yelling and crying, and exhaustion.  Everyone was tired, my mother most of all.  My mom didn’t sleep well anymore.  If she managed to sleep for more than two hours, it was a miracle.

I went to Florida for a few weeks and came home to a mess.  A great many things transpired in the time I returned home.  It was a confusing mess of accusations, misinformation, and opinions that left many feelings raw.  To make matters worse, my mother’s health wasn’t doing much better.  She had been prescribed stronger medications and while they did supply a temporary relief, they were soon too weak for the pain she was experiencing.  I was back and forth again, staying with my grandmother and spending the rest of my time with my mom.  My mom was receiving paracentesis once a week.  She passed on April 24th, only a few days before my brother’s birthday.  Somehow my family members always manage to pass on or near birthdays.

The time between her death and the funeral is a morass of confusion and bitterness.  I’m not going to offer a lot of detail about what occurred during this time.  Some of it was my own fault.  I didn’t know how to cope with her death.  I didn’t know how to cope with anything.  To be honest, I didn’t get to mourn her as I should have and that created for me a great deal of anxiety and eventually, depression.  I didn’t have my first good cry until the evening after the funeral.  The mourning didn’t last for long.  I found myself back and forth between home and my grandmother’s house.  I’ll just say that things weren’t exactly amicable between some of my family.  Again, I created some of this mess.  I didn’t really consider how stressful my life had become until after it had all passed and that I should learn to leave some things unsaid.  I lived on pins and needles for a while.  It was like walking on glass.  One wrong step and I’d fall through.  Or at the very least, cut myself.  I feared that I would antagonize someone by saying the wrong thing.

I found myself in an awkward position, as I returned to what was left of my old life.  It was like surveying a cluttered room.  I stood there and examined what was left, what I should pick up first, but instead I was overwhelmed and wanted to just lay in the fetal position.  I had all the time in the world, the possibility of accomplishing anything I desired.  And yet I desired nothing at all.  Every morning was like a nightmare.  It was like one of those dreams of being somewhere unfamiliar and wondering how you’ll ever get home.  I didn’t know where I was supposed to go or what I was supposed to be doing.  For thirteen years, I had taken care of my mom.  Given up college to care for her.  I found myself, for the first time, feeling truly alone and lost.  I was no longer the caregiver.  Who or what was I, now?

I never really spoke with anyone about what went on within my own head.  Of how I felt like I was living my own little purgatory.  Reading had lost its appeal.  I would open a word processor and stare at the blinking line, wondering what I should write.  Video games didn’t interest me as they once had and that frightened me a little.  I didn’t want anything.  Instead, I spent my day just wandering around the house, flicking through my Facebook wall, and told myself that maybe it was time to get a job and do something with myself.  Or return to school.  I had, after all, told my family (with enthusiasm) that I was going to return to school.  Yet, it felt like it was unobtainable.  That I didn’t deserve it.  Some of my friends were immersed in their own lives, forgetting me/my brother and most of my family had returned to their usual game of “don’t call.”  I was starting to feel like a big puddle of nobody.

It was in the summer that I finally realized the conflict I had been struggling with for the past few months.  I’d lost my purpose of the last thirteen years.  The solution, of course, was to create a new purpose.  Something to keep me occupied and something I would enjoy.  My initial thoughts of college were to get a degree as a librarian.  I’ve always fancied the idea of promoting literacy (and yes, I know you don’t have to be librarian to do that!).  I realized, after much consideration, that I could tire of that career path before ever obtaining the degree.  Instead, I decided that I’d prefer to pursue a degree in English, preferably in Fiction.  Writing has always been a hobby that I’ve wanted to expand into a career.  College courses would give me the knowledge that I’ve been so desperately seeking for the last few years.

And so, I enrolled in college.  I’m attending my second semester, doing well, and loving my courses.  There are moments that I pause and think of how unbelievable this past year has been.  It feels like that life was never mine, that I’ve been meandering through some strange dream that faintly resembles a life I once lived.  I wish I could say that everything has become for the better, but I still have moments that provide me with some anxiety.  Things are still not mended between some of my family.  And they still do not pay us a call unless we initiate communication first.  For a long time, it’s just been the three of us. I suspect it will continue that way.  Now that I have a somewhat more manageable schedule, I will start posting to the blog more.  No more of this heavy, personal stuff.  Unless it’s something awesome and fantasy related.  At least I’ve found my path again.