It’s a rainy day. I know much of eastern Australia is either flooded or on flood alert right now, but I’m enjoying the rain. Autumn has come and with it, temporarily in any case, has come some late autumnal weather. This morning I went out in the rain and had breakfast and did my grocery shopping before visiting the local street market for a pile of lemons to slice up into my evening drink, and some boutique bread to indulge myself on. Home I worked as the rain fell softly outside, packing boxes full of books and wondering at those I had yet to read. For the last couple of hours I sat on the couch with Rigby in my lap and caught up on the TV I’ve missed, lazy and indulgent.
I’m much more than that right now. I haven’t written lately because I’ve not been in the right place to write. Things still come to me, thoughts I might share, sentences and even paragraphs fully formed, but I don’t have either the energy or motivation to write them. They wither like fruit left on the vine.
I think raw is a good description of how I’ve felt lately. And exhausted. That works too. There’s been a lot happening, and it continues to happen. I can’t stop because there is not the time to stop. I react instead, attending to different things in a random sequence depending on what is most pressing. The clock ticks, deadlines loom, and much uncertainty reigns still. I manage, and without any obvious issue, but I feel it. My emotions are very close to the surface – sometimes I feel very fragile. I’m exhausted because my emotions have been so stretched, because I am doing so many things at once, and because I feel I am running out of options. I am drained, but I persist.
There was an occasion early in the week. The phone rang early, it was my mum. She told me the doctor had seen her and said she was not so dire as we had thought. On top of that she didn’t have pneumonia after all. He said she might be able to go home for a short while. I was confused. I didn’t know what to think. Instead of feeling happy I felt doubtful. He had seen her for 5 minutes after returning from holiday. He had not examined her. He assessed her by sight first thing in the morning when she is rested and at her best. Could I really believe this? Then there is mum unhappy with the news, sceptical as I am, and wanting to go. There is no mercy for her in continuing to live.
I fell back to sleep afterwards. I had a dream. It was a dream of happy moments with my mum when she was healthy. Then in the dream I began to cry. I woke at that. I felt awful. I felt crushed by the weight of the world.
It’s been like that for much of the week. I don’t know what to think anymore. I had prepared myself for the end and now, possibly, the end had been put off. It felt cruel and confusing. I didn’t even know what to hope for. A quick end, as mum wants? Or a selfish clinging on? Everything in me has been in a state of volatile flux.
Throughout I have pushed myself to do things, but have felt little spirit in me. There has been much to consider, my mum yes, but then my own future and all the complicating factors there, and topping it all off has been my sister. Long denied, I finally accepted my sister is not the person I would wish her to be. That’s been the worst perhaps, a dispiriting, but undeniable truth. I’ve said nothing to her of this, or my disappointment. I know there’s no point. More fundamentally I love her still, she’s my sister, I don’t want to hurt her. I don’t like her, but I love her. I would protect her, even as I’m feeling all this I’m going out of my way to help her in her studies. It’s robbed me of something though, some spark. No-one wants to think these things of someone they love.
I’ve dreamt a lot. Several times I have cried in my dreams. If you need proof there it is, dreams do mean something. I shed the tears in drams I can’t in real life. Still I have felt the tears in me often. Exhausted, overwrought tears. I get embarrassed. No-one is there, but still I get embarrassed. It’s unbecoming for a man to feel this way. This is not who I am, a big, burly man, he doesn’t cry, or even have the need to. Most men reading this will likely understand, and every woman thinks me a fool – and they’re right.
It’s a funny thing this. I am embarrassed to own up to these things. I feel not so much vulnerable as self-indulgent. Still, I have made the commitment to be honest. That’s the point of this. I feel like apologising all the same, as if I am burdening my readers with my pathetic problems. I live that way too. I might cry at some point, and I’ll let the tears come. I resist the fragility though. I don’t collapse. I go on. I can look upon my problems and understand why I might so feel drained and bereft, and will excuse the emotions they draw upon. I can’t give in to them though. I need to keep going, to battle through: it’s what others expect of me, what I expect of myself. It’s what I want to.
Not everything has an answer; happy endings are in short supply. At some point mum will die. My sister won’t change. I can’t control those things, I can only mitigate some against the consequences. In myself I draw strength by continuing, and in the knowledge I will continue, that that is my way. I know things will get worse from here, and the cloud around my life thicker. I have to endure that, and I endure that by moving forward, forcing myself if I have to. One day the cloud will lift. Things will improve. A new vista will be put before me.
See, that’s what I do. I feel all these things and I churn them, and out the other end comes hope. It’s a handy trick. It only works if you do things though.
This morning coming home the phone rang. It was my sister. Mum was told she could visit home tonight. We got that from her, not from any official. Today she is dreadful though, incoherent, confused and barely intelligible. And yet they approved her home visit. My sister was to pick her up, but I had asked her to talk to the nurses, to get some sense out of the situation. So she rang me to say they had decided she would not pick her up, that mum would remain in hospital.
So many things remain unknown. I got a call during the week from the doctor at my request, but things had changed since without being updated. They communicate things to my mum – who wakes up and thinks she’s on a cruise ship – but not to any of us who can actually make sense of it. On top of that the palliative care I had left with the hospital – at their suggestion – seemed to have gone by the wayside. In any case we had been told nothing.
I rang the hospital and was put through to the ward. I spoke to a nurse – no-one more senior is there. I explained to her my grievances. I told her mum was in no condition to come home. I complained I had been told nothing of what was happening. I asked in future for nothing to be done without consulting me. She took notes and promised to do what she could. We agreed mum could not leave the hospital. And then I hung up the phone.
I felt relief. I complain, but I’d rather handle things myself than leave them to other people. For the moment we had a handle on things, though the situation is grim. I made the calls to update people and went back to things, returning to my life for a little while. Waiting and hoping doesn’t work. Not even words do. It’s doing that counts.