Yesterday was a hard day, but it was also a good day. A day filled with memories, tears, openness, and the divine.
I moved my mom to assisted living a few months ago. She was not taking care of herself, and because she was alone, lonely and afraid living in the home she built with my father, she developed late life alcoholism. She used alcohol to keep the memories of raising her family, of my deceased father, and her better health away from being front and center, because these memories did not bring her joy anymore. She could not see these memories as a gift she was given, but rather as something she lost. When I spent time with my mother she was missing, and the house and the memories were slowly killing her.
I put the house up for sale, it recently sold, and now I am left with dismantling my mom and dad’s lifetime. My sister is away at in patient rehab for alcoholism, and since she has not been in any shape or capable of helping in anyway I do this on my own. My husband helps, always ready to pitch in to lighten the load, but cannot share the emotional strain because he was not witness to growing up in this house, and the things inside do not hold any emotions for him. I sort through all the things my parents accumulated and I alone decide what holds value, and I pray I am doing a good job as I place their lives in plastic tubs with my name or my sister’s name on them. All the time I’m doing these tasks I am waiting for a text or phone call that is keeping me even more on edge and more aware about the sacredness of life.
I have a friend that is dying from cancer. I last saw her about a month or so ago, dropped off some essential oils I thought may provide some comfort and lift her spirits if even for a moment. She met me at the door, we hugged. She was thin but still incredibly beautiful. We parted ways a short while after with hugs and cheer, and talked about the next time we’d get together.
Thursday night I received a phone call from one of our mutual friends saying my dying friend had turned that corner that cancer killingly provides. It appears that practically overnight it has taken her around the corner with it, and has left her a mere shell of herself. My friend says she will text me Saturday, will let me know when I can come over to perhaps say goodbye. I received that text yesterday while I was sitting on my parent’s basement floor, reading my sister’s elementary school report cards and deciding whether or not to put them in one of her plastic bins. I race out the door, mentally preparing myself for this visit.
I am shocked when I see my friend. I want to fall to the floor and scream, but I do not. Instead I walk over, I hug her little body, and she says something like, “About time you got here, I’m dying you know. This is how we talk now, so get used to it.” That brings a smile to my face, and now I know my friend is still in there with her snarky wisecracks and sparkling blue eyes. And she has given me the gift of relief, relief to know that I’m certainly not going to say anything wrong in this group of women!
So us women chat, make her food she cannot eat, but loves to smell. Her big handsome son comes and picks up his mother and moves her from her wheelchair to the couch, and we all move like well oiled machines as we do our best to make her more comfortable.
My other friend leaves to run some errands, and now I am alone with my dying friend, and now we can get down to business. She tells me she is scared, that she doesn’t want to die. I hold her tiny legs on my lap and rub her feet. I don’t know what to say, so I just try to speak from my heart for once, not to guard my words to try and say the perfect thing, and I listen. My friend has taken her meds, and she grows sleepy, and I tell her to just take a nap, I’m not going anywhere. She closes her eyes, but opens them and says she’s afraid to. Afraid she is going to miss something, afraid that if she falls asleep this will be our goodbye. All I can say is “I know, I know, I know. I’m not going anywhere.”
I leave after a few hours, with promises I’m going to make homemade chicken broth, and I will bring it to her. That is exactly what I’m going to do once I pour all of this out.
On my way home after packing my mom and dad’s lifetime away, and after visiting my dying friend, all I wanted was to stop and buy a bottle of wine. I wanted to sit on my deck and drink and smoke my way through the evening. I wanted to sit with my husband and share the closeness he and I used to have when we would share our thoughts with each other over our drinks. I did not stop for that bottle of wine. I made it home empty handed, I came through the door, I sat down and cried. I then decided life was too short to hold so much in, and that I did not need alcohol to loosen the tightness that was inside of me.
I finally opened up about my feelings to my husband over all that I’ve been thinking about these last few weeks. My entire day was taking me to a place where I felt a connection to something bigger than anything in this world, and perhaps that is the Divine.
Through some great advice from women in this group, and through the fact I felt The Divine was with me all during that hard day, I let my experiences flow through me instead of locking them away and feeding them alcohol. I feel there is hope for my husband and I, and we finally let up on each other. I will finish up at my parent’s house today, and I will see my friend today. I will not drink, and I will fully feel everything I am supposed to feel. Thank you all you amazing women, I cannot express in words how much I am learning from you, and how much all of you mean to my recovery and learning to live life.
Happy Sober Sunday!