There have been times over the last few weeks when I have felt like I couldn't take any more. Virginia has been sick twice with a terrible cough and fever. Two chest x-rays in two weeks is my limit.
I knew at 6 p.m. last night she wasn't going to sleep well. Her body was tight and she was having a difficult time relaxing in my lap. I knew it would be bad when she hit the bed. She screamed from about 7:30 to 9:30. Slept until 11 p.m., and then was up for good. Between the two of us, we probably went into her room thirty times. We held her, rubbed her back, brought her out into the den and sang songs. But nothing worked. Her body just would not hold still. At 3 a.m., I let her watch a movie in bed just so we could get a little sleep.
At one point during the night, Findley and I were lying in bed, trying to tune out the crying.
"I don't think I can do this much longer," he said quietly.
"It's not always this hard," I reminded him, glad that occasionally I can be the encourager.
"No, it's not always this hard," he replied. "But it's always really hard."
And he's right. It is. It is hard to go all day, endure five, forty minute, tedious feedings, countless lifting, repositioning, and just over all care taking. When night comes, we are so desperate for a break, but we don't usually get it. At some point, can we really keep doing this?
I keep trying to get into a groove of regular exercise and daily writing. I keep trying to find the energy to have people over for dinner, get involved again at church, and do more than just survive. But that is a tall order when you don't get any sleep at night.
In the midst of the last few weeks, Nana went back into the hospital. I noticed at some point along the way that I haven't been sad about Nana. I haven't been worried about who is taking care of her at the hospital or even been concerned that she might not make it. What's wrong with me, I started wondering on Tuesday. Where has my compassion gone, my love for Nana?
But it finally dawned on me. I have had enough. During the first part of the week when Sissy was so sick, I literally did not have room in my life for one more sorrow. Not even enough energy to cry one more tear. I had become what I loathe- someone who pretends pain isn't there because they just don't want to think about it.
It was what I had to do to survive.
You'll be glad to know that on Wednesday night, my compassionate side returned. Nana's doctor called to tell me she was dying. That her heart rate and blood pressure were out of control and medications weren't helping. He wanted me to know she was extremely critical. (She's fine, by the way. Went home yesterday in the middle of a snow storm. Obviously she's still sick, but her heart rate slowed down and she's on the mend.)
Well, the tears fell and I came face to face with the sorrow I had been avoiding all week. I was glad to know I still had the energy to care about someone else, to grieve for someone who isn't Virginia.
The whole incident caused me to wonder about the way I've judged certain people in my life. There are people who I love dearly who haven't grieved over Virginia and it has done a lot of damage to the way I feel about them. I have always believed it is wrong to pretend everything is coming up roses in the middle of a tragedy. You don't have to talk about it all the time, but please don't ignore it.
But now I am beginning to see that there are times in people's lives when they have had enough pain. They would crumble under the weight of one more injustice.
Since I don't have the ability to read people's minds and see the pain they are carrying, perhaps I better hold off judging how they respond to those around them who are suffering.
I have learned that the human spirit has limits.
I am just grateful that the Holy Spirit does not.