Lately, I find myself wishing I could hire someone to take care of us for a couple of weeks. Nothing too crazy, just someone to cook, clean, do our laundry and maybe even wrangle the kids for an entire weekend so I can finally catch up on some sleep. You know, the kind of thing that extended relatives did for each other before we got too busy (and too spread out geographically) to help each other.
It’s been a tough couple of months around here. Too much mortality, with my sister-in-law in Serbia dying and Ken’s dad being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer right around the holidays. That kind of stuff can just take it out of you. At least it does me. This from someone who’s lost a lot of people, starting with a childhood friend when I was 18, followed by my dad dying when I was 22. As a friend used to joke, death used to be my pick-up line.
But it’s an entirely different thing when you’re slugging through it with a hubby and kids instead of sousing yourself out at the local bar with your buddies. Way more exhausting, because there’s just never enough downtime to deal with it all.
The other thing I find exhausting is pretending everything’s all right. Which is kind of what Ken’s family is doing with his dad’s cancer. And while I’m trying to step out of the equation and support my hubby here, I have to admit, these kinds of dynamics drive me bonkers. After all, I spent the alcohol-addled 20s after me da died learning how to unlock all that crap hidden within. Since then, I’ve become a pretty staunch believer in speaking the truth, voicing what everyone’s thinking but not saying, and generally putting way too much energy into trying to solve life’s problems.
Just ask my long-suffering hubby (a.k.a. the best thing that ever happened to me). I might complain about him, but I also need to give him the respect he deserves and let you know what a rock star he is. Solid enough to accept all the conflicting pieces of who I am, even when I’m being a pain-in-the-ass as I try and figure things out. Talk about unconditional love.
I wish I could be more like that, more accepting of others and who they are and less judgmental about everything. Ken’s got a much stronger sense of Live and Let Live than I do, and I’m constantly trying to emulate him on that one.
So let me try and let him and his family grapple with illness their own way, while I deal with my own sadness by writing about it.
So much for humor, huh?
Last week, I wrote about how I took Ken’s car through the car wash as a way of doing something nice for him. What I didn’t write about was that the kids were with me, and the car wash about gave Gabriel a stroke. He’s only 2, after all, and way-too-easily freaked out by shooting water, strange hoses and shaking cars. So much so that he still talks about that car wash almost every day. In fact, he keeps asking me to drive by a car wash any time we’re out and about. He doesn’t want to go inside one, mind you–he’s very clear about that–he just wants to pass one. Drive by and try and deal with the trauma that car wash inflicted upon him.
So I’ve come to think of this blog as doing a similar thing. A sort of stepping back and reassessing the things that make us afraid. The daily drive-by the relationships that make us crazy, the things that give us hope, and the people who give us love. Amen.