Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A New Path and A New Year

It's dark and cold in the winter, making it easy to hide. And while the trees are barren and the brown twigs seem quiet and alone, the leaves of spring can still be imagined. They hide among the gentle secrets of the future, and we know they are there, somewhere, waiting until the right time to return.

And so it has been with me for the last two months.

You may have wondered where I have been hiding, and whether or not I would return. But when a door in the floor appears, and you’re not looking, you will most likely fall into it. When you finally reach your arms out, to catch a notch in the wall, or hear a friend whose voice echoes in the whoosh of the air going by, you start to understand that you can stop the fall. Just put your feet out and touch the ground.

2013 began with a series of adventures, the short story to be shared here so you can get a feel for why I lost my balance, and more importantly, add your heart to it by knowing that if you are experiencing your own transition that we can do it together.

On December 29th, while vacationing in Naples, FL, we learned my father in law had taken a fall and had broken his hip. Knowing he must get to Las Vegas, NV to help, my husband spent 20 hours traveling, sleeping in airports, and dashing to reserve the last rental car, to be by his side. His mother has dementia and his father, in spite of all efforts to the contrary, never made it out of the hospital, dying in his own time two weeks later of sheer exhaustion, at the age of 88. His parents lived 60 years together holding hands, 61 years ballroom dancing, all the time creating a world that only included the two of them, never really imagining it would be any different if love and will were any consequence. But everything changed that fateful Saturday, and it changed for us as well.

Jean, my mother in law, unable to live alone, now lives with us. She arrived on January 31st to a place where trees are everywhere, and sand is not, where rain falls every three days instead of every three months. But most importantly, she is in a place without her husband, her home or her routine. On some days, she can’t tell time, or remember how to use a zipper, or explain why something doesn’t feel quite right. But she knows she misses her sweetheart, and she knows soon she will not remember anything.

She is good company. She is small, frail and full of wit and humor, and even though sarcasm is often a foreign idea, she can still laugh at a good joke and defend herself against those who would pity her. And for the time being, the place for her is with us, in our home, and we are blessed to be an extended family for a time. As her new caretakers, we will watch her each day as she leaves more memories behind, offering in its stead, light, warmth and for love.

And now you know how the door in the floor opened for us and changed everything.

You will forgive me for entitling this year, “The Year of Transitions,” since it serves my needs so perfectly. But when prompted with the title, it occurred to me how much it fits us all. It is for two reasons. I know I will be buoyed by sharing this with you, and I know you have transitions that you must endure as well. Won’t it be easier if we do them together? Doesn’t it make more sense to share and connect during all of these changes?

To sum it up, I have realized something. And it gives me peace. Change is not life veering off its path, it is the path. Walk it with me in the moment, in 2013. Our first meeting will be in March, and we will celebrate Spring together!!!

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