The other day, my husband and I went to visit my mother in law in the nursing home that she's been in for almost four months now. She is the mother of my first husband and I have remained very close to she and my father in law. About a year and a half after my first husband passed away she suffered a stroke. It was a mild stroke. In fact, she didn't even know she had a stroke. She started to slur her words a bit and I noticed she looked very tired and was dragging a little bit. I suggested to my inlaws that she should get checked out by her doctor. They ran a bunch of tests and it came back that she had had a mild stroke. She started to get better. Her speech began to improve but she still looked like she was dragging. She is only in her 60's and used to keep going from the time she woke up until she fell into bed. Always doing for other people. Cleaning houses for people, washing and ironing the alter linens at her church, knitting blankets for Birth Right, going to Seniors with my father in law and on and on and on. Then she had another stroke that left her a bit more incapacitated. She went to therapy several times a week and started to get a little stronger and was learning to walk with a walker. During this time, she had several falls. She broke her shoulder in one fall. The next fall she fell and cracked several ribs. Then she fell again and had to get staples in her head. The last time she fell, she compound fractured her ankle which is why she's currently in a nursing home. My father in law can't care for her at home and there are too many steps in their house for her so she couldn't even make it into the house at this point.
My father in law has been having his own health problems for many years but has been doing well with each procedure he has to correct the problems. A week ago, he had two stents put in his leg to fix a blocked artery. The recovery has been much more difficult than anticipated so I've been going to see my mother in law more often and have been bringing her clothes and washing her dirty laundry and bringing her diet sodas and anything else she wants. She cries now when I leave. My husband and I watched from the doorway as she was working with her therapist the other day. The therapist had her up and trying to walk while holding on to two bars for support. My mother in law can't even hold her head up anymore when she's walking. It's a very difficult thing for me to watch. My hormones from pregnancy added to my love for my inlaws leaves me with a broken heart for her. For both of them for that matter. We kissed her goodbye and she started to cry. I didn't see it, thankfully, but my husband did. When we made it out into the parking lot I sobbed. I told my husband that I can't go there and see her like that right now. I'm not strong enough emotionally. I take pride in the fact that I've been thru a lot the last five years and have come out the other side a much better and stronger person. I've lost a husband who was 40, a father who was 59 and a step-father who was 62. All died very suddenly and within a year of each other. Then my youngest sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer spread to her liver. She is doing tremendously well which is nothing short of a miracle. You think that your family is safe from tragedy for a while when you lose three members in three years but, lo and behold, it's not. Nobody is immune to tragedy and tomorrow is never promised.
When we left the nursing home the other day, I told my husband that I can't go back there for a while. I consider it taking care of myself. Right now, I'm not strong enough to put on a happy face for my mother in law who knows she's never going home. She knows it in her heart and that is why she cries now. I also believe that when her son died, a part of her died with him. A part of her just shut down.
After my father passed away, I had a tough time. I was so shot emotionally. I hadn't yet met my wonderful "new" husband and I was a single parent. I was still dealing with losing my husband but started to feel like I was getting back into life again when my father passed. I was strong when it came to some things and not so strong when it came to other things. My 16 year old dog needed to be put to sleep and I just couldn't handle it. I knew in my heart that I couldn't handle it. My mother offered to take her to be put down and I threw in the flag and told her yes. I do feel guilty sometimes for not being there when she passed but I know that my mother was wonderful with her and everything was peaceful. I was taking care of myself when I let my mother take her.
I found this passage in The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie and I thought it was perfect for connecting my words with Sunday Sayings. It's titled "Strength."
" We don't always have to be strong to be strong. Sometimes, our strength is expressed in being vulnerable. Sometimes, we need to fall apart to regroup and stay on track.
We all have days when we cannot push any harder, cannot hold back self-doubt, cannot stop focusing on fear, cannot be strong.
There are days when we cannot focus on being responsible. Occasionally, we don't want to get out of our pajamas. Sometimes, we cry in front of people. We expose our tiredness, irritability or anger.
Those days are okay. They are just okay.
Part of taking care of ourselves means we give ourselves permission to "fall apart" when we need to. We do not have to be perpetual towers of strength. We are strong. We have proven that. Our strength will continue if we allow ourselves the courage to feel scared, weak and vulnerable when we need to experience those feelings. "
God bless all of you who are looking for strength in your life right now.
Many blessings ~ Wendy