Tag Archives: blog

A Celebration and a Mourning

26 Nov

IMG_5811Yesterday, Chuck and I celebrated the publication of Stroke Happens by gathering with some friends for a book signing at a local tavern—where we met, actually. About 15 or so people showed up with their copies, which Chuck and I signed. I also had everyone sign our copy. Everyone had fun, some musician friends played, and I felt very grateful and humbled by the support. After getting home, my neighbor Lisa came over and we had a few more drinks and sat around the outdoor fire.

But what goes up must come down. At some point, an emotional storm erupted in me. I suppose it was about the past trauma of post-stroke life; but also anxiety about the future. I am petrified I won’t be able to continue to afford living as we have. I’m unemployed and in debt. Two tooth extractions—I haven’t even gotten new teeth but have two gaps where my back molars should be, one on each side—and a replaced HVAC system have put a serious dent in the finances. I struggle monthly to make ends meet and wonder how long I can continue, even as I hope for salvation in the form of a full-time job. (Or huge book sales.)

Normally I practice the teachings of Buddha, about letting go—of past regrets, future worries—but sometimes I am unable to do so. Last night was one of those times. I’m still working on it this morning. Or maybe I should say this mourning, because I am in this situation because of a loss—the loss of the man I married, who was my partner and who could at times take care of me when I needed it, as in today. Now I have to take care of myself, as well as of him. I’m doing the best I can, but it doesn’t always feel like it’s good enough.

Celebration and mourning. One coin, two sides.

 

 

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Moving On

24 Nov

    The other day I announced to my email list that I had started a blog. I received a message from a friend congratulating me on my “blob.” I laughed, but when I sat down to write today, I froze. I couldn’t decide what to write about. I felt like a blob, indeed, hands poised over the keyboard, waiting for the words to come. I felt I needed to write about Chuck’s stroke, therapy, recovery or how I coped with it. But I didn’t feel moved, so I pondered on it for a while. I think I understand, now.

     When Chuck had a stroke, it took over my life. However, six years have passed, and I have moved on. It’s now hard to recall much of the experience or my feelings during that time. The stress of that time blurred my memory of events. So how to proceed? Maybe this post should relate how I moved on, because I do remember a time when I thought I never would be able to. I was every bit a victim of stroke, albeit in a different way, as Chuck. While I would not describe myself as “happy,” exactly, I have found a level of contentment and fulfillment I never thought possible. Maybe I should describe how I got there.

     The first step, obviously, was to get through the crisis itself. Next was to get Chuck what he needed in terms of continued therapy, which absorbed most of my energy for the first year and was driven in part by my desire for his complete recovery. When I realized that was not possible, I then had to accept it, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I had to let go of the idea of Chuck as he was before the stroke, a very painful process because that was the prize I had been reaching toward, the finish line that had kept me in the race.

      I spent the next couple of years avoiding reality by moving, twice. We left our small town to move a small city, and then back again. I missed having access to my form of therapy: hiking in the woods, swimming in the lake, walking in the country. However, during our sojourn to the city I received some gifts I would not have otherwise. The first was yoga. The second was being able to be present for a dying friend. The last was rediscovering my love of writing, which has helped me redefine my identity. I started writing again, and five years later I wrote a book. I have a manuscript in progress and an idea for the next project simmering on the back burner.

     My point is that I had to actively seek contentment and fulfillment, not wait for them to find me. For a time, I lost myself in the role of caretaker and as a victim, ultimately not enough for me. I had to find myself, or more specifically the self I had become, and merge it with my new role as Chuck’s caretaker. The act of writing, or finding my voice, enabled me to move on while remaining in place.

    

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