When life is crazy and chaotic there is nothing more comforting than coming home to my own chaos. Indeed, I think it beats coming home to a spotless and completely organized home, because there is something I can do, a little piece of chaos I can control. I look around and see laundry that needs to be corralled and cleaned (yes, I can do that), a stack of fabric placed on the ironing board a couple of weeks ago that needs pressing (right now, that seems positively relaxing), and magazines and books waiting to be sorted and stacked (reminders that the love of reading has taken hold of my children). There are thrift store plates in a box waiting to be washed and put away (sheer inspiration in the 1970s charm). There is yarn in every room of the house. Yes, this is my home.
I'm glad it's a little messy, because hospitals are anything but warm and inviting I've spent close to 48 hours at the hospital in the last 9 days, and I'm not the patient. ICU is chaotic and loud. It's too cold. ICU doesn't have patients in their own pajamas, flowers, or teddy bears. Worry and fear permeate the unit, and even if you are feeling upbeat about your own loved one's progress you feel the sadness of the families that are saying goodbye. Plus, upbeat might not last more than a couple of hours before things go down hill and once again you live minute-to-minute.
Everyone is frazzled. A highly dysfunctional family that barely pulls itself together for major holidays will break under the stress of a medical crisis. Personalities clash. One person doesn't like the way the other one gushes and baby talks. Some family members are the glass-half-full types (indeed, some are so far into denial that they can barely come to visit), other are glass-is-nearly-empty types. Everyone moves past the breaking point, and accusations fly. Some people feel that others aren't doing enough. Some people feel that other people don't appreciate what they are doing. Some do whatever is asked to avoid disapproval.
I was at a homeschooling conference last weekend, and I went to a session about fearless homeschooling. Now, this session could have been titled Fearless Living, because that is what I took away from it. In fact, I went to the session Sunday afternoon, and Sunday evening is when we had our first extreme crisis with my mom. I was at the hospital all night long, without so much as a cat nap. I had plenty of time to think about flight or fight (which were rephrased Deny and Control). I was able to accept the situation with the knowledge that I could not control it. I was ok. Whatever happened would be ok. It was flow.
I tried to carry this with me through the week, and in terms of the medical situation I did well. When I took the night shift again Friday I wrote in my journal that I was calm and centered. Obviously that was early in the night. By 2 a.m. I was neither calm nor centered. My mom was having a great night (considering), but I was fried. We went back Saturday evening to visit, and that was great. But when they called me this morning to go sit the day shift (because my dad had stayed all night even though he wasn't supposed to) my brain was screaming NO! I went though, because I ignored what my brain and body were telling me and I moved into denial. I chose to continue what I knew was a bad situation.
Let's just say that I knew the moment I got there that I had made a bad choice, and I also knew that there was no way to undo it. I suffered through the next 6 hours. You know, it is hard to be a caregiver when you've reached the place where you are empty. I did my best. I left the room a lot, and called Papa, and cried. My contact lens came out, I cried so hard and so often. Papa was beside himself; this was one time where our choice to live as a one car family was very hard, because he couldn't come to me and share my burden.
(Let me just say here, that overall my mother was better today. Not totally out of the woods, but making progress. My issues today weren't about her. No, I had reached my breaking point and not only did I need to leave, I was agonizing over how I would explain to everyone else that I just can't keep this up.)
You see, my house may be chaotic at times, but within it there is a rhythm that sustains me. When a huge crisis comes we often find ourselves completely withdrawn from that rhythm (Who me, stay up for 36 hours straight twice in one week? The joke around here is that I don't even know what 6 a.m. looks like.).
So in the midst of the unknowing, I am once again fairly well centered. Inspired, even. I can hardly wait to clear the clutter and get back at sitting at the desk together drawing, snuggling and reading on the sofa, and working on creating my own little studio space (within the larger family room).