Baby we were born to run….

18 Sep

Oh this week, where do I even begin with you? Your ups and downs are really knocking me for a loop and it’s only Thursday.

I suppose I should start at the beginning, but to do that, we have to go further back than Sunday. We have to take your preferred time traveling device (Mr Peabody’s Wayback Machine or The Doctor’s TARDIS?) to almost four years ago. Set your chronometer for October 2, 2010.

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Look at this couple. They’ve just gotten married. They didn’t write their own vows and they didn’t go over the ceremony in detail with the minister ahead of time. They are a little bewildered right now, but they are pretty sure they just promised to love each other, for better or for worse, for the rest of their lives. They are confused by the time traveller now in their midst but they assure you that they are ridiculously happy and ready to face any challenge life will throw at them, and that they will face it together.

Rewind half an hour or so and listen to the minister’s speech. He tells them that perfect love not only casts out fear, it embraces it. Love conquers challenges together.

And so you, time traveler, you ask them the question I asked Ken this week: if I told you, now, the troubles you will face, the challenges you will go through, would you change your mind?

And we would respond the way Ken did this week: absolutely not. He would squeeze my hand, cast out fear, and we would forge ahead.

We have survived so much in less than four years. Joe’s death, our struggles to have a baby, Gloria’s dementia, my struggles with depression, and countless injuries and trips to the ER.

But we’ve had so many moments of happiness. We’ve gone to weddings of dear friends and had vacations with family. We have a dog and a house and a precocious 8 year old. We have had impromptu dance parties on our front porch, swaying in each other’s arms to ‘our’ song. Life has been both bitter and sweet. And man, has this week perfectly epitomized that.

Sunday was amazing. Two of my cousins are in town – a very rare occasion considering they both live in different continents. And Sunday they randomly called and asked us to go apple picking with them. Ken had already committed to helping with Gloria, but Daniel and I eagerly agreed.

We had a blast – picked a ton of apples, spent quality time with some of the people I love most in the world.

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buuuuut I also got stung by a bee, turning my hand into this:

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Can’t have the sweet without the sting.

Then, Tuesday morning was another bittersweet day. Ken and I went to the funeral of his coworker and friend. George was a legend – I can’t even begin to do him justice in attempting to describe him. Let’s just say, one year his Christmas card was him in a bathtub, full bubble bath, and ever-present cigar in his mouth. I adored George and his sudden death was hard for both of us.

Even harder was going to the gravesite. George is now at rest in the same cemetery as Joe, not too far from each other. I asked Ken to take me to Joe’s grave and we cleaned up a little around it, held hands, and cried.

And then the weirdest, funniest thing happened. We had been completely alone in that section of the cemetery and were surprised to see a car park directly behind ours. And we were even more surprised when a bagpiper, in full regalia, started walking towards us, warming up on his chanter.

Now when a bagpiper actually plays a song, it can be quite beautiful, even haunting. This guy was not doing that. He stood RIGHT BY US and let out the most awful set of shrieks and honks until his chanter was in tune. Ken and I looked at each other in disbelief, then collapsed with laughter. We are both convinced Joe saw us crying and said “None of that here!” We still cried, but it was the laughing so hard you’re crying tears. Thank you, Joe, if that was you. It certainly worked.

And then there was yesterday. My mother in law has degenerated very rapidly recently. She has become more combative, more difficult, and is not maintaining her hygiene. It is breaking all of our hearts, but the time has come for her to go somewhere where they can take better care of her. Ken and his siblings have looked at places and I think they’ve made a good choice. But it’s still so hard and we are struggling emotionally, with the process and the new reality.

Anyway, I went over there yesterday to watch her while some of the kids checked out some places. She had refused to shower the past few days, so I said I would try.

I ran a bath for her, put in lots of bubbles, and managed to coax her in the tub. She resisted at first, but eventually relaxed. As I washed her hair and scrubbed her back, I did what I always do when I’m in the shower: I sang.

Now, Gloria has frontotemporal dementia, verbal subtype. Her vocabulary, her ability to have a conversation, to express her basic needs, has been stolen from her. Which is why I cried when she sang right along with me, every dang word, to “You Are My Sunshine.”

I don’t know what all the rules are at the new place. Maybe I’ll be able to give her a bath again. But if not, that’s okay. That one was magic.

So hop back in your preferred time machine. Don’t tell that couple everything they will face. If they hear it all at once, it will break their hearts. But tell them again what the minister said – love casts out fear. It will be hard. Sometimes it will downright suck. But you will also have small moments of magic, to see you through. Most of all, you will have each other.

Now to explain the title of this post: I’ve always liked running to ‘Born to Run’ because I am weird like that. There is one line in particular that has always resonated with me and it sums things up so well. At one point, Bruce plaintively sings, “Together Wendy we can live with the sadness/I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul.”

Dear, darling husband, if you’re reading this, I know this week has been awful. I can’t promise to make it better, I can’t promise much at all, but I promise that I – and the magic – will always be here. And, with all the madness and sadness, we will cast out fear.

And we will not be signing Daniel up for bagpipe lessons.

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