Monday, August 14, 2006

The Worst of Times

The end of July and beginning of August are always difficult for me, but I always forget why until long after I've melted down. July 20th is the anniversary of my beloved godmother's death from lung cancer. July 23rd is her birthday. August 9th is the anniversary of my own mother's death, from a cerebral hemorrage in 1991.

Sometime around mid-July… like, say, the 17th or so, I begin to get a little edgy and unsoothable. No amount of anti-depressants helps. By the 19th or 20th, I'm fully on edge and ready for trouble. I spend the next two weeks in a state of mood fluxes and surges that last until sometime around mid-August, when it dawns on me why I'm getting this way, and I'm able to pull it all together.

This month, I figured it out by August 13th, after I'd experienced an emotional meltdown in the middle of Hollywood Cemetery after a screening of the movie "PSYCHO" (no, neither the locale nor the thriller were to blame). I won't delve into the immediate causes, except to say that they surrounded the current stress I'm experiencing in my home life involving family and physical and mental deterioration (only partially my own).

Usually, though I complain a lot about it, I manage to handle the emotional upset of the situation I'm in quite well. Saturday night, standing in the cemetery, I simply fell apart. I did NOT want to go home. I did NOT want to deal with anything any more. I did NOT want to keep doing this caregiver thing.

Sunday, a quiet day of cleaning, grocery shopping and reflection, I realized why. I want my mommies. I want at least one of my mommies, preferably my godmother, Linny, who was infinitely wise about human beings and their weird-assed behavior, and had the patience of a saint. I need her now. I need her ability to be loving and kind in the face of hostility and anger.

I hate that she died so young (three days short of her 65th birthday), when we all thought she'd live to a ripe old age. I hate that she never got a chance to fight her cancer, because secondary physical complications from the disease and chemo kicked her ass too soon.

But more than that, and this is the part that's really kind of sinister and makes me disappointed in myself, I think I'm resentful that now, when I need mothering the most, the one person -- Linny -- who proved up to the task, has taken a cosmic powder (not her choice, I realize, but still... grrrrr....). I suppose this is just something I'm meant to figure out on my own. I suppose that all the answers to my pointless questions would be just as pointless if I got them (which I won't).

Still, knowing that this time of year is difficult for me, knowing that I'm a little emotionally raw, I have to remember that next year, so that I'm not so knocked for a loop. I wonder where I'll be next year. Another pointless question. Today is what I have to work with, so I guess I'd better get cracking.

But here's a little toast with Newman's Own Lightly Sparkling Lemonade to Linny, whose love -- I'm going to have to assume -- has given me the strength to get through this with my spirit intact.

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  1. So sorry you're going through this. And perfectly appropriate in my mind to melt down at Hollywood Forever - especially following Psycho - that's just poetic. Just remember - you can do this. It just really sucks right now.

    I just found out that the reprieve my sis was given is now over and the cancer is back and growing again - back to the same prognosis as before. Life calmed down for a bit and there was a lot of hope - but now back in the day to day, "We Just Don't Know" place as it was before. I envy your ability to finally break down. I still haven't done so and I'm afraid it won't be pretty when I do, wherever that may be.

  2. Catharine, I'm so sorry.
    Being a caregiver is one of the most stressful experiences you can go through. My wonderful grandfather got dementia and came to live with my mom, and it was so damn hard. She was constantly under pressure, stress levels were through the roof, and she felt like nothing she did was right. Sending you huge good thoughts and thinking about you.

  3. You guys totaly rock. Both of you have first hand knowledge of what I'm living.

    Mil -- so sorry to hear about your sister. I know you guys were hanging a lot of hope on her brief remission. I think going to the cemetery, standing with your best friend amongst the headstones and the crypts, having just watched Hitchcock, is the only place one can have a breakdown and feel 100% safe. Not sure if I can explain that, but I think I may not have to.

    And, M3, you hit the nail on the head. Nothing is good enough, the caregiver fields all the blame and takes all the heat, not only from the patient, but from the outside world as well ("you should... why don't you... well, if it were me....")

    Yeah, well... I don't... I can't... and why the hell isn't it you, by the way... at least for a few hours on a Saturday night when I need some time to myself. And PS try turning your freakin' cellphone on once in a while, so I can catch a break.

    Phew.... I guess I still have a lot to get out/over. But not today. Today, I'm wearing a brand new blouse (thanks, Deirdre), and brand new sandals, and its a half-way decent hair day. I'm about to go into the kitchen at work and nuke a cheese tamale and serve it up wtih Sta Barbara peach-n-mango salsa and some sour cream for breakfast.

    That will make it all right.


    That was something that needed to comeout.

  4. I think next year on Aug 12th-- you hop a flight to Maui and RELAX-- or hey lets all go.....or somewhere w/o responsibiity..