A Crack in the Heart

For some time now, Jenny has been on the decline.  She refuses her food more often and sometimes throws up.  She sleeps longer and deeper.  She is losing her sight and her hearing.  She gets diarrhea and has nocturnal accidents.  When she’s awake, she barks at everyone and everything invading her space.  Lately, she’s been limping.

Worried that her pancreatitis and kidney failure are worsening, I called Dr. Black who made a house call. She found that Jenny now weighs only 8.9 lbs (a loss of over a pound since her last visit}.  And her kidney blood levels are rising.

Remembering losses of other furry companions, and wanting time to prepare myself, I asked Dr. Black if Jenny was nearing the end of her illnesses.  I was stunned to learn that I probably have only about six more months to enjoy her company.

Funny, how the revelation I will soon lose my best friend changes my experience of her.  Now I live in the moment, holding her, stroking her, enjoying our closeness

Tonight, as the long day fades into night, I watch TV from my bed as Jenny lays her head on my lap and sleeps.  I gently stroke her back, letting her warmth soak into the mattress and my heart..

Waiting For Karen

She’ll fly here this afternoon.  She told me days ago that she would visit this week, though she and Wil will drive from Arizona for my birthday in July.   She’ll be a blast of freshness in my ho-hum life.  She said we’ll talk and go through photos and cook.  And whatever I want.  She’ll make smoothies and my favorite roasted tomato soup to put in the freezer for later.

When Karen is here, I do things I thought I’d never do again.  One night, after I’d stopped going outside because my wheelchair made it too difficult, I found myself sitting in a recliner on the deck with her, listening to the sweet songs of cicadas and breathing the warm night air.  It was just good to be there.  With her.  I wanted nothing more.

I’m usually uncomfortable when I need to ask someone to do something for me, but with Karen, it’s different.  I know she genuinely wants to help, even enjoys it.  She makes me feel loved and cared for.   And safe.  She stirs my heart with the big spoon of her love.  She’s my niece, but couldn’t be more attentive if she was my daughter.   She sends me care packages, flowers on special days, brings gifts of things she knows I like.  When she’s here, she looks around for things that need to be done and does them, doesn’t wait to be asked.

I know there’s a special place in Heaven for Karen.  How grateful I am to have her in my life!






Fear and Longing

I was a timid child.  I was afraid of the dark, an angry sky, the boogie man.  I longed for a feeling of safety and of being loved, but I expected rejection.  I learned early on that my fears were an intrusion on other people’s lives.   I couldn’t depend on those closest to me to save me from imagined harm; it was up to me.  And I didn’t feel up to the task But in order to avoid irritation, or ridicule, I kept my feelings to myself.

One of my earliest memories of being afraid was when I was staying with my maternal grandmother.  I was about three years old.  I don’t know why I was there, alone, or why the rest of the family was absent.

I slept with grandmother’s stepdaughter, Nancy, in the front bedroom.   This particular night, Nancy was out on a date.  It was a hot, sultry evening and the window was wide open.  The bed was next to the window.  It was very dark outside and I could see only the silhouette of a large tree.  Grandmother was sitting in a wooden chair across the room.  She said she’d stay there but I knew she was impatient to leave.   I closed my eyes and tried very hard to go to sleep.  Grandmother, thinking I WAS asleep tried to slip out of the room.  I cried, so she came back in and parked herself in the chair again.  I closed my eyes and we went through the same routine several times, until she finally lost her temper and spanked me.  My Great Grandfather, who happened to be sleeping on a cot in the dining room, called to her to bring me to him.  He held me in his arms and told me stories, one about a stork who flew through the sky with me until he found a momey and daddy who wanted me very much, so he left me with them.  I fell asleep in the middle of the story.

I think I knew that my Great Grandfather was an exception.  Back home, with a busy and impatient mother and a distant father, I learned to live with my fears.

As an adult, I still feel incapable of dealing with them, so I have adopted the solution of avoiding what I’m afraid of.  Which, of course, is no solution at all.

What am I afraid of?