Someday We’ll Look Back At This And It Will All Seem Funny

It was 12:15 am and my 11 year old was still awake. He came into our room, crawled into our bed, and wanted to talk about why he couldn’t sleep. He wasn’t upset, he just couldn’t turn off his mind. The content up in there, wow, it’s VIVID. Anyway, Husband grunted and rolled out. The man needs at least 7 hours of sleep or he turns into a toddler. Not good.

Me? Sometimes I feel like I’m Boy’s service animal. And my feelings about that are complicated. Shocker. What’s not complicated, though, is that this child is the JOY of my life.

I gave Boy a few minutes to summarize the ideas and anticipations flying around in his head, then I held his hand and modeled the relaxation breathing he’s still learning to help slow down his wide awake thoughts. I reminded him to try to think about just one thing – one concrete, joyful thing – as he breathed. I know so well that goddamn wide awake mind experience, and even though I desperately needed my own day to be over, I just can’t turn my back on this kid when nighttime is hard. It didn’t take long. Soon I felt the rhythm of his breath move to calm, predictable, deep, and I detected a couple of those little boy twitches he still gets when he’s falling asleep. I kissed his forehead and smelled his freshly washed hair, brushed it over to the side with my fingers, stroked his cheek. There’s nothing as beautiful as a sleeping child. Sacred.

And then I was wide awake myself until 3am, way up in my own wild mind. There’s not enough relaxation breathing in the whole wide world to knock me out on nights like this one, especially when I’ve been near sleep and then awake again, as I often am, but still, I try. It’s not always Boy, not at all, it’s also menopause and a thing I affectionately refer to these days as my mental load. It takes a toll sometimes. Maybe that’s why the cardiac nurse in Atlanta thought I was my 45 year old sister’s mother. Her MOTHER! Oy. That one still hurts, but I’m trying to laugh it off – along with so many other things – so I don’t pack it up and call it a life.

On The Backstreets Until The End

Remember this post? The one in which I said he always comes back, just when I need him?

Yeah, well, HE IS. And I DO.

I cannot freaking believe he’s going to do this, but I am so excited and nauseous to have it to look forward to. It hasn’t yet been officially confirmed by Bruce’s people, but it’s being reported by many different news outlets, and most importantly, no one is denying it. Nils Lofgren even tweeted about it, and that’s good enough for me. It’s happening.

Until then, I’m strategically lining up other shows to attend, most of them Springsteen related, some of them on the Jersey shore. 

It’s time to hit the road again because SUCK IT, depression. 

This is something my therapist calls radical self-care. I’m down with that.

I Wanna Change My Clothes, My Hair, My Face

The main purpose of my last quick trip to Atlanta was to support my sister as her kids underwent their first baseline cardiac screening. Since my BIL’s death in late March, we’ve learned he died due to complications of a rare genetic cardiac arrhythmia called ARVC. You know those news stories about athletes suddenly dropping dead during practice? Yeah, that.

We researched and found the gold standard ARVC clinic at Johns Hopkins which then referred us to a satellite pediatric clinic in Atlanta. After weeks of prep work by my sister and the genetics counselor, the kids were tested on the same day, same time, different rooms. We each took a kid and stayed with them during the various tests they had to have, after all they’ve already endured goddammit, and we comforted them, we hoped. Witnessed.

We met with the cardiologist at the end of the day and both kids tested perfectly normal, no restrictions. Relief all around. We’re still waiting for the genetics testing to come back. Those results will dictate the ongoing screening schedule.

The most important thing about ARVC is if you know you have it, you don’t die. But you have to know. So we’re going to know. Or we’re going to act as if we know. The kids will be followed carefully.

When the appointment was over, my sister and I didn’t know exactly what to do. We hugged her kids and each other, and we looked at each other as if to say, ok, that’s done, check. Now what? So we went to the mall and then to the diner for a cheeseburger.

 Breathe in. Breathe out.

On another note, while we were all together in the intake room, before the physical exams, my sister busy answering the nurse’s many questions, there was an awkward, long pause at one point followed by the nurse asking me if I was my sister’s mother. Her Mother! What in the actual fuck? Even if it was an innocently misplaced guess based on the situation, who says that out loud? Unless it’s CLEAR. Apparently she did say it out loud, and apparently it was clear to her. If my sister hadn’t been there, I might have thought I was having an intrusive, stress-induced, self-loathing thought because, well, you know. But, no, we both heard it. We shook our heads no, no, NOPE, I’m her older sister by 9 years, NOT her mother. Jesus, lady, way to go. Shank me in the neck when I’m already down.

That sucked. But come on, get over it because it’s not anywhere near as bad as having your father suddenly drop dead and then finding out you might have inherited his undiagnosed cardiac disease. Or being the mother of those kids worrying herself sick, their whole world on her shoulders. So I let that shit go. Temporarily.

I left my sister and her kids in a better place, with information that freed them up a little bit, at least emotionally. They needed it desperately.

I flew home and promptly got as sick as a dog with some kind of upper respiratory virus, flu, I don’t know, and with a little stomach thing on the side, because I don’t do anything half-assed. It was awful. Nothing like being sick in bed for a few days when you’re already depressed to make you feel OLD. Old enough to be the mother of a 45 year old.

You know what I did on my first day back among allllllllll the people? I soaked in the tub and colored my hair for the first time in a year. Preference by L’Oréal, medium golden brown-5G.

It was SOMETHING I could DO.

It helped.

Man, The Dope’s That There’s Still Hope

My therapist assigned me some very specific writing this week after I found myself in an extremely dark place. Again. I’m not publishing it here – maybe someday I will, along with all the other stuff I keep to myself, who knows – but what I want to say at the moment is the act of writing from that dark place, and sitting with it instead of censoring it or deleting it, helped me. It didn’t change anything, but it somehow defused the situation I found myself in. It took a couple of days, but I feel better. 

I’ll take better.