Seven weeks ago Rob moved out.
Eighteen days ago I sat in a conference room and stared at images of my mother's lungs and brain spotted with cancer.
When Rob first moved out, one of the hardest things were the "kick in the stomach" moments. Those were the moments that left me mentally or emotionally doubled over in pain, trying to catch my breath, feeling like another blow would collapse my already shaky knees. Such moments included finding a loose engagement picture when I moved stuff in a closet, putting away a book Rob had been reading to us as a family, and grocery buying for three instead of four. The hits came from unexpected places at what felt like the most vulnerable times.
Many phone calls and emails at those moments helped me find my footing, catch my breath, and recapture my hope. I learned to roll with those moments, to feel them, to accept them, to grieve them, and to let them go while looking forward and believing good would come. It took weeks, but I became good at taking what came at me while solidly standing on my feet...until yesterday.
Yesterday was spent seeking a solution to a seemingly hopeless situation.
The tumor in Mom's frontal lobe has left her paranoid, given to rage, and sometimes violent. Sunday there was an episode with my stepdad that required intervention by our hospice support and removal of my mom from her home. The only solution in the moment was to transport her to my home. However, there are concerns.
The simple fact is there are a lot of factors that are creating an unstable situation. Mom's meds, inability to regulate or filter her moods due to the tumor, her frustration, the deep grief she feels, and a lack of sleep work together to create a person who is wonderful when she's normal but possibly highly volatile when she is pushed even the slightest bit too far. Obviously, this is not going to work with my children in the home. Plus, she hates being here. She wants her own home, and she wants to be left alone. Due to her inability to think well all the time, this is not a viable option. Due to monetary issues, an assisted care facility or a full-time caregiver is not an option.
There are no good options.
Despite rolling things around and around in my mind and playing out different scenarios, I have no answer.
But that is not what slammed into me yesterday. All of that makes my brain tired, but it is only a puzzle with a solution I don't know yet. However, I will. My faith is strong. God has a solution. I haven't heard Him tell me what it is yet, but there is one.
All of that, while tiring, is okay. It'll work out.
That is not the kick in the stomach.
Last evening Rob brought the children over to spend time with Mom and be encouragers. I was looking forward to it since I have hardly seen them since Friday, and I miss them greatly. All was going well...so I thought, and we were getting ready for bed when Robert came to me.
"Mom, can we spend the night at Dad's?"
"We want to stay at Dad's."
"We just like being there more."
"Well, you can call him and ask."
Robert did. Rob said yes, and they were on their way out the door...again.
And I was left feeling like I had just gotten kicked in the stomach, feeling like I just watched my fragmented family shatter.
The door closed, and I breathed. Sometimes that is enough.
Anna and I had talked before they left. She wasn't picking parents. She was picking peace.
Being with my mom, watching her sadness, was too much for two hearts already figuring out ways to heal. I understood.
"I don't want to be here." My mom's slurred words hit me in the back of the head like a slap.
I listened as Rob's car pulled out of the driveway and drove away.
I don't want to be here either.
I would rather be listening to my children laugh as I tucked them in bed and gave them tickles and kisses than to hear them call, "I love you, Mom," over their shoulder as they got into their dad's care to leave again. I'd rather read the book I bought than try to finagle finances so Mom can have good care that keeps her safe while still respecting her desire to care for herself as long as possible. I'd rather...
I'd rather be courageous than cowardly. I'd rather do the right thing...even if I don't like the high cost that goes with it...than to do the easy thing.
The fact is my children are fine. They love being with their dad, and they love playing with friends. I am the one feeling detached. I am the one feeling alone. I am the one feeling the weight of the situations, of being the fulcrum from which the balancing act seems to extend. Being the fulcrum hurts, and the balancing act rubs in ways I don't like.
No, I don't like being here either, but neither does anyone else trying to find their balance in the midst of the situations that keep us feeling off balance. Someone has to be here, though, in the middle, seeking solutions, feeling the weight, finding the balance. That someone might as well be me, and, maybe my being here will make it better for the wonderful people I love. If it will, this is where I want to be.