Psst, remember to breathe…
The past few weeks have been intense, if only because you never know what to expect.
Which is normal, right? No one has that crystal ball and then there’s theories about paradigms and time-travel that I don’t even want to get all up in the business of.
So it started with a Doctor telling me that my Mom’s EEG came back with “significant damage to her brain…even if she wakes up…new baseline…”
And so the shields went up while maintenance crews started working around the clock on my emotional state. I called my Sister in from her work trip in South America. I sent out updates. And I prepared.
But this isn’t the first time and I doubt it will be the last. So maybe it’s time I put this down for myself. How we got here.
My Mom met a guy while my Sis and I were at the Grandparents one summer. He was 19, fresh out of boot camp and stationed at the base near us. So we came home to a guy living in our house who was only 8 years older than I was, but I didn’t care, I was finally going to have another guy in the house that knows stuff and can throw balls with me.
Couple of years later, they’re married and we move to the frigid North. I was the typical teenager trying to find his place in this world. I think at the same time my new Step-Dad was trying to find his place as well. Not a good formula for a relationship. But we both tried at different times and found some similar interests. I tried hunting but found him a little overzealous about finding the elusive deer, so I wanted to stop going and catch up with my friends. My Mom decided she would go in my place in order to appease everyone.
I was working my burger-flipping job that night when the call came in. My Step-Dad had accidentally shot my Mom while hunting.
My family and earlier events in my life had geared me for this. I became clear, focused, and planned. With family called in, I took the position of speaking with the Doctors at each update while keeping up with everyone’s questions and making sure my Sis was okay. I kept waiting for them to tell me she tried, but just couldn’t make it. She died on that table 3 times the first night.
That was 19 years ago.
I guess why I’m remembering all of this now is because I’m not a victim. Before the accident, my life could be labeled “difficult”. It wasn’t horrible, just painful in a lot of ways in that kids can be cruel. Since the accident, my life has been blessed in amazing ways.
Okay, so a constant barrage of mishaps, some light alcoholism, bad financial habits, a flood, several near-death medical visits for my mom over the years, a young dad (me), and an inability to find peace inside my mind. But overall, it’s been amazing.
And now, after 19 years of being a quadriplegic, they tell me her new “baseline” will probably not have speech. She’s already paralyzed from the neck down and she might never be able to communicate again!? Doctor said, “If it were my Mom or my Sister, I would plan to make her comfortable.”
Then a few days later Doctor pulled me aside and apologized. She was becoming responsive. She was beating the odds…again.
She wasn’t supposed to live past that first night. But she fought.
Her body continues to entropy over the years, but she fights.
She shouldn’t be alive today, but she is.
And through this all, I’ve held my breath. As much for the day that comes when she doesn’t make it as for the day that I need to get over it. You see, I’ve been holding my breath for 19 years while this amazing life has been happening around me. I’ve worn so many masks, capes, and suits of emotional armor to make most psychologists scratch their head. I don’t put them on to bury the emotions but to be used as tools and allow me to do what I need to do.
I have great mechanisms when working through the baggage I carry. Usually I know what is causing my blood pressure to spike, when I need to cry (though I can’t), and when I just need to focus on one thing and not everything.
Maybe that’s why I had to type this into the world – It’s time to breathe.
To let go of what I’ve done wrong, of the pain that I have experienced, and of the expectations that one day everything will come crashing down on me.
Just one breath at a time.