Do you ever have those days where you want to hit the pause button on life? You would like the whole world to just stop spinning for a day, an hour, a minute – just long enough for you to catch your break from the carnival ride you feel your life is on. These past couple of weeks have felt like a Tilt-a-Whirl – rushing by, filled with endless to-do lists that just keep growing, even as I check items off.
I’ve been teaching, coaching, working part-time at my church, organizing our booth at the Pride Festival again, helping to plan the new minister’s installation ceremony, writing lesson plans for 4 days of a substitute… I’ve been out of town for the past 6 days, which includes 4 class days, because my mother had knee replacement surgery. So I was with her instead of with my students. It was the right thing to do, but any teacher knows it is more work to be gone from school than it is to be there.
Oh, yeah – I’m also planning my wedding. In November. In Iowa. For the few readers I have who don’t know, since my last post, my partner and I have decided (after almost 19 years) that we actually do want to get married, even though our state and the Federal government don’t recognize it. The Federal government is getting closer, though. A couple of weeks ago, DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) was declared unconstitutional by a court of appeals, so we are hopeful!
In fact, between that and the fact that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was struck down, we figure it is only a matter of time before we start being eligible for federal protections and privileges. That is actually one of the factors in our decision to drive to Iowa next month and get married in a state where it is legal. When the day arrives that the government will treat us the same as any other married couple, we wanted to have the document saying we are in fact married.
I will write more about our decision and our plans in a future post. But right now, I just want the world to stop and let me off for a while. I want to stop time – freeze everything and everyone – while I take a little time for myself. Time to think, time to get caught up on all those things that fall to the bottom of the priority list, time to process my emotions. They are kind of all over the place right now.
Of course, I am excited about the wedding. I am happy that Mom’s surgery went well. I am grateful for my school and the administration that allows me to be with my family when they need me, while having a qualified, former math teacher cover my classes so they don’t get behind. But I am also scared. Really scared.
This past week, I was not only visiting Mom and helping her through surgery and moving to rehab. I was also visiting Dad. Her surgery was at a hospital about a mile from where Dad is, and she arranged to do her rehab in the same nursing wing of the retirement community where he lives now. I hadn’t seen Dad since August, and I was a little surprised to realize there has been such a significant decline. I knew that he would only get worse with time, but it still took me by surprise.
When I was there in January, he knew me by name. When I saw him in August, he called me by his sister’s name, but still lit up when he saw me, recognizing me as someone familiar. This time, for the short periods when he was actually awake, he didn’t seem to know me at all. He did put his arm around me and hug me one day, but that afternoon, he was sleeping so soundly in his room that I couldn’t get him to respond to me at all.
The nursing staff tells me that, more and more, he is like that – he sleeps most of the day, and is pretty unresponsive most of the time. He has lost a great deal of weight, and seems to be slipping away every moment.
I have plans to go back over my Thanksgiving break, but my real fear is that I will need to go back before that. I know that he would not want to linger – he would hate it if he was aware of his condition. I know that the man I knew as my father has been gone for a long time. So I should be OK with whatever happens. But my inner child, Daddy’s little girl, wants to scream NOOOOOO! It isn’t fair! I’m not ready to let him go!
In the meantime, I have to get back to work, teaching, coaching, working at church. I have a wedding to plan. I have a life to live. And he would want me to live it.