My dear friend’s email gently reminded me just how long it has been since I posted anything or even commented on other posts. I have had a difficult month but her email reminded me that writing is a big part of my continual therapy and so I will catch up on what’s been happening during my internet absence.
This summer has been hard for everyone in my family as there has been a lot of illness and death in friend’s families. One of Martha’s coaches, 38, died suddenly and unexpectedly from an aneurysm, a man I work with, 52, died of complications from a colon issue, a friend 58, had some back pain and found out he is filled with cancer, Peachie’s best friend’s grandmother passed, not unexpectedly but certainly heart wrenching for those of us who were privileged to know her, one of Beaner’s friends from college died of an overdose And the list goes on and on. It seems we spent the summer either at wakes and funerals or running food to extended families.
And then I had a few delightful days when my sister and her daughter spent several days at the lake. Always a little melancholy without my mom there who loved this annual women’s week but still we had days filled with love and laughter and way too much junk food.
But during the visit my sister got a call that her husband’s brother’s son, Justin, was in the hospital because of some strange debilitating infection that no one could diagnose. Justin lives a couple of hours from me in what we call “the north country”, a sparsely populated mountainous part of the state. He was in a small community hospital more suited to birthing babies and setting broken bones than dealing with rare infectious diseases. Everyone kept asking why he wasn’t moved to the bigger hospital near me. His parents had flown up from Virginia to be with him and apparently they have very little monetary resources and were able to stay at Justin’s apartment, saving a considerable amount of money. We of course invited them to stay with us if they decided to move Justin to a better hospital. They declined. But then apparently the infection spread to Justin’s heart and he required open heart surgery. And so Justin was medi-vacced to a major medical center and his parents came to stay with us.
I have known both of them since high school so it wasn't like inviting strangers, although I hadn’t seen them since my nephew’s wedding years ago. What I didn’t know was that they were in the midst of an ugly, ugly divorce. So instead of being able to put them in one bedroom, they needed two. We have a very small house (about 800 sq. ft) with 3 tiny bedrooms, one bathroom, and a futon in the basement. This created quite an imposition for everyone but hey, their son was literally fighting for his life so you do what you’ve got to do.
For sixteen days we lived like this. They were at the hospital most of the day but when they came back to the house the tension was thick. They were both sick with worry and they would argue about everything, which was impossible not to hear in our house, and their anger and stress started to spread throughout my family. My normal nightly routine of calming was shot to hell and I couldn’t sleep. My daughters started staying other places but we were still stretched to the max just trying to get to our clothes or move in our tiny kitchen or just to take a shower. Nerves were becoming exposed and extremely raw.
Finally Justine recovered enough to go home to recuperate. His mother went with him and his father flew home. But the summer of loss and the stress and lack of sleep of those couple of weeks lingered for quite a while and was probably the reason my emotional reserves were so low when I was sucked back into that black hole of PTSD and the past . . .