Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house:
Image credit © 2009 Robb North
This is me. Empty. Yes, I am aware God is with me,and he is helping me….but I can’t deny what I feel. Naturally speaking. God knows, so it’s public anyway!
Our live is made up of experiences, who we are, and all that surrounds us that we love. This is my natural home.
Or what feels like it looks like!
Empty, worthless, unsuitable, needs to be demolished, uninhabited, etc…. I’ve been thinking….”WHY”?
After my accident, I waited almost a week before calling my family….my mother and mother-in-law. My mother-in-law remembered hearing about the accident on the radio, (it stopped the biggest freeway in my huge city) I hoped she would support her son and allow him to talk if his fears, his frustrations, etc…. He would need it.
I knew my it would be hard for my mom to handle….she wasn’t able to come anymore. I always went to her when I needed her. She knew me well, like most mothers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell her everything….her health wouldn’t allow. Hearing her voice helped, and sometimes it was to difficult to hear and not be able to share my true emotions. I “heard” voices – I tried to ignore…”this will take a long time to rec over from torn muscles”. I had torn muscles? TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) was so frustrating.
Picture putting on a turtleneck sweater…..over your head, getting to the mid back and STOP! Everywhere the turtleneck is or has touched is the area of torn muscles. Front/Back. That’s the muscles only. Not inside the brain. Or inside my body. Fire was raging. “I’ll be fine in a couple of weeks”. Later…. “I’ll be fine in a couple of weeks”. Later…. “I’ll be fine in a couple of weeks”. Later…. “I’ll be fine in a couple of weeks”. Later…. THIS IS NOT A TYPO! This was the first 6 months or so. QUEEN OF DENIAL. My nickname. I had no time for this business! Learning to swallow was something I had learned once…now again? PLEEEZE. Wife, mother of two older teens, and Manager at a well known hospital where I worked for 15+-ish years, and people who were needy — needing help with various things. Life throws curves, and we loved to help as much as possible. A basic life. Nothing glamourous, just the basic home life. But NO TIME for this Business!
I said little. Actually, I was embarrassed at how much pain I was in…living on the couch. My memory was getting worse…..I was getting worse….but the first week isn’t a ride in the park. I was wrong. The first week WAS a ride in the park compared to the rest! I mentioned a little to a friend at work, a nurse. She assured me that a concussion was the reason, and it would get better. The muscles, ligaments….well that would be longer. If I had known what was ahead, I think I would have shriveled up and died! Like I have wanted to before. The pain was just beginning. And my parents needed more care. My middle sister and her husband, were the main caregivers. I promised her I would help….. I broke that promise….. And I know for a fact, it affected her health….shingles,etc…. I had viruses’ that came back alive from stress, too…. So she wasn’t hiding anything from me!
A good feeling when you realize YOU have made yourself stressed, and added to your sister’s stress, ALL related from the effects of the accident. It didn’t JUST affect me! I have plenty of ‘guilt trip miles’ rewards on that one!! Add the mileage of not being able to leave on weekends because of a teen who worked and could not be left alone. We knew what he did….he thought we were clueless! (He is now a wonderful husband and father). Our daughter was struggling. And we couldn’t leave her behind at the mercy of her brother, and those who were her Friends.
What a complete mess…. And unknown to many, this DOES effect everyone…. Children, etc…. And that’s makes it difficult too!
I vowed then and there I WOULD not feel guilty after my parents died…. I did what I had to do… No choice. We didn’t raise our children to be this way. I would not let this haunt me….my dear mother asking if I could come, yet being her understanding self when I said why I could not. I couldn’t have made it without my husband, but we both could not be gone. My sister understood and was supportive. But in reality, my family failed them. Not something that helps self esteem at all. “Fail”. Those that needed me and stood by us. They were kind in thinking of our family. Sending undeserved gifts. Yet, could give nothing in return in their darkest, hardest time. What a privilege my sister had….and she feels that way. What I missed out on, can’t be recaptured. I’ve forgiven myself, but the memories have important holes in them. In those “holes” are where the tears are shed and stored.
Little by little, my “house” became naturally vacant. Lack of respect, test of love, lack of peace in our home, and lack if support all failed us. Shocked, we saw a close up of “human nature” that caused us to understand how “ugly” we are in the eyes of God, yet how merciful He is. We understood His wrath, and the flood he created to drown the folly of human nature. We weren’t exempt either.
We soon began receiving phone calls, only to discover they knew nothing of what we were enduring, but the secret was out that we might be transferred up north. In pain, I shopped the holiday sales for warm clothes for the four of us. Hiding them until it was a “go”. Not telling family or friends. Funny what gets out and what is not told! Wouldn’t it had been more worthwhile and effective for correct healing if word spread of our predicament? If those calls had come with encouragement for health? We were shocked at how many were oblivious to our situation, yet knew about something we weren’t spreading? Human nature at its best! Did no one hear of the help that was needed? Of a husband/dad who played house wife, (and that list is to long!)
Even more interesting, is we were told later, that the lack of love shown should tell us something! (thanks, my child!)
It may have told you we weren’t in the “club”, (whatever club that was)…. It merely showed us a picture of human nature, even in those who loved Christ. Mistaken smiles for “All is okay”. Seeing the surface, yet not looking deeper… we ALL do the same. We see what we want to see, and what we don’t, we don’t seem to see.
Now as we look back, I understand. Not in “I understand, it’s okay”, but I understand what happened and where the breakdown in communication began. It wasn’t about not caring, it was about not really understanding how bad things were. Those who could have spoken on my behalf, chose not too. THAT is a hard one. Now, those same ones are quick to blame me for everything. To keep peace, I say nothing. But part of me dies a little more when I see how little respect was given … I see my husband, not wanting to answer the phone, to chat about things – when his heart is heavy and knows there isn’t a real interest. It’s interesting how his tone and information changes when someone asks and HE KNOWS they really WANT to know. There is a genuine interest. The subject isn’t changed until he is ready. I’m surprised at how much he holds in…..until the right person comes along. Realizing his world holds no interest, only condemnation, it seems. My world, his world. Different, yet the same. Invisible Caregiver vs. Invisible Illness. The same.
Think of this, (which I often ponder, not in anger or resentment, but just in pondering…..) His life might be so different if those who chose not to help, and not to share our family’s struggle, had chosen differently. They would have seen a different story. It may seem I am blaming. This is not what this is about. It’s about not speaking up when we have the ability to speak up for those we love. To silent their voice, keeps us from having the freedom to speak up our self. Most won’t speak for themselves, but others will. There is more broken than the medical community….Are our close family ties broken? Yes, yes, yes. So broken, no one knows how to be a Family Member anymore. INCLUDING myself. Doors are closed. Information is not discussed. Worry is high from the unknown. Do I call or not? I’m in trouble anyway, but getting in worse trouble by being concerned is worse. And not knowing how others are is awful.
THIS is what causes hopelessness. THIS is what causes suicides. Want to reduce suicides? Then increase knowledge. Decrease judgement. Why don’t “These people talk?”…. some muse about us. I can tell you one reason…. We get sermons instead of empathy. Judged by some rule of thumb that does not apply Then the ill person’s life becomes hopeless. The ones they loved were uneducated, but considered themselves well educated. Like the Pharisees….they knew how the other person should act, but they never thought about how they should act. Their hands lifted in pointing judgement, not helping. Their heads consciously turned, ignoring pleading hearts. Yet, they will be the first to speak of being a Christian, while casting doubts of your salvation. The ones we trust, to stand by us in hardships….. It is devastating, yet our faith is increased while we see our Father’s care. Slowly, we watch love move out, replaced with the very thing we never dreamed of experiencing. Validated Hopelessness. Don’t be frustrated if nothing is spoken of…. Unless there was a willingness to FIRST be the spokesperson when desperate needed.
Sometimes I want to scream and say….
“I do not want to be left out…. Even if I can’t participate at this point. I need to be loved, even if my TBI causes me to lose my filter and my proper words. I’m not rude, TBI is rude…. Please forgive me just as you have done for my dad and mom. You knew it wasn’t them, can you understand this isn’t me? I loved you when it was very hard, can you please do the same? I did not ask for this accident, and neither did you. I was driving carefully. The one to put blame on is the 16 year old who was having a blast on a busy freeway. That’s it! Don’t make it my fault or yours. We are innocent bystanders. This is when we come together with love and support each other.”
I’ve asked God specifically for two things. 1. Let it be me…when the horrible feeling came over me that something bad was going to happen. I stayed on the couch for hours, begging, until I felt peace. I could not bear for anything to happen to my family that caused such a horrible feeling as a warning. 2. Don’t let anything happen to my grandchildren. After my granddaughters brain surgery, I felt my heart had almost died, watching her and my daughter and son-In-law, it was too much, although we saw the grace of God. Take me before any have to suffer….because watching them suffer is worse than suffering personally. I feel in my heart I can not take more grief on…. And I know we aren’t promised a rose garden. Somehow, the trauma lingers of isolation, hopelessness and fear…. I take it to Him with gentle reminders. I hope He can forgive…me and them. I ask for me, because I am certain I have hurt another with words I had no idea I said. Or words I thought sounded right. (shocked when I discovered what I THOUGHT I said and what WAS said were two different things!) He knows a mothers heart, wife’s heart, and friends heart. And he knows the attitudes we come face to face with, that are wrong.
BUT… while the above is the norm, what is the good? A friend, dumping her clients and flying across the US to stay for a week – unpaid leave! Is that love for another? I was so desperate for my husband’s sake, I asked on Facebook if someone was able to come stay a bit to help. You know those verses that speak of all the excuses? And how small and mean they were? It was funny…. if it wasn’t so sad. But…a jewel was seen gleaming….. It was a true sacrifice. We couldn’t help her much, except to keep her from spending any money while visiting. Rubbing feet, rubbing backs, washing, cleaning, preparing meals and listening. I’m sure she is an angel. In fact…. I’m quite convinced! Last I saw her (about two years ago) she was able to read me like a book, and she grieved. I said little. Only angels can read our minds, right? She’s one. I know, if I got on the phone RIGHT NOW, and asked her to come, she would. It would be a comfort. I can’t. Because it’s hard to ask those who care, and who will sacrifice their time. I’m not sure why, but maybe I don’t feel deserving. Because a voice always says, “YOU have to call over thousands of miles to get the help and support you need”? Yes, Satan. Thanks to you. Hope you are happy!
Another angel is the one who this site is dedicated too. (In the Menu). She appears out of no where, and understands, is empathetic, laughs with me, and disappears…. only to return again. Just when needed. She’s got a direct line, I’m sure.
My “early marriage” girlfriend is another one. She is perfect and humans can not be perfect. That’s proof enough for me. When cancer came, and in the middle of a dark night, we whispered. “I might die, what about my son”? What does an earthling say? One thing I remember saying is YOU CAN NOT DIE, in so many words…. and I made her promise to do what I’d learned from MD Anderson…. I told her how to “see” pac man eating the cancer. Told her that sugar was off her list – cancer could be seen growing under a microscope! I couldn’t offer much, but I could validate her feelings, and give her some inside info on hospitals and doctors! She was so thankful and said I did a lot! Only angels can dream up that! She lived…. and now, she is a grandmother. I haven’t seen her in her role, but I can see her eyes shining….. just like an angel.
Angels houses are full, brimming with light, peace and joy. And they share it to those who appear abandoned.
One of her latest visits, we were on the floor talking…. (me a grandmother and her – almost one, CAN STILL get on the floor!) She turned to me and said “OH, thank you for ……”. I shrugged if off… “it’s nothing, you are so worth it.”
She turns to face me, and I can’t look in her face. She knows the confidence is missing…. She says firmly…. “Cathy, look at me while I say this.” Glancing up, she was looking in my eyes. “No, I want you to look at me in the eyes and do not look down.” (Bossy little angel!) “okaaay”. “I’m serious, Cathy, because you do not understand”.
? So I look at her eyes. She says slowly….. “what you did is the most wonderful thing, and no one has ever done anything like that for me. You are a wonderful friend.”
It seemed hideous. She was speaking to me…. a broken, disabled person. See? Told you…. she is an angel !~
I actually have an angel living in the house. It’s the only thing that keeps it from falling. I actually capture pictures!~ This one does everything. Rarely complaining. Always kind to me. It comes and goes, leaving in the morning, but returns in the early evening. If I want something, somehow it appears! I’m quite sure there are many who don’t live with one… So I must be special…. Could my friend be right? Hummmm…..
I took a picture. I can see it, can you? Just amazing. Simply amazing
Okay…. I recant. I DO NOT have ghosts living in my house. As bad as it might seem, I have angels coming and going. Some I know, some I don’t, some slip in and some stay awhile. Funny, that not a picture of my house….. When you think about who lives there….. it’s quite full~!