I’m in two minds about posting this. I feel like it doesn’t really have a point. But, it’s all part of my journey so decided to include it.
None of us can really plan for the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, next year. I know all too well that life throws plenty of curve balls and that being young is certainly no guarantee of a healthy life. The loss of 3 young friends to breast cancer reminds me on a daily basis that we only know with any certainty what happens next when looking retrospectively at our past.
Yet human nature seems to drive us to make plans. Planning gives us a sense that we are somehow in control of our own destinies. Our hopes and dreams underpin our plans, and many of us confidently assume things will all work out.
Before my stroke, I would imagine the future: looking after grand-children, caravanning around Australia with Steve, growing old with the love of my life. Since my stroke I have found it impossible to imagine the future. I’m not sure why. Maybe it looks so different to what I had planned that my mind can’t reconcile my dreams to my reality. Maybe it’s because I won’t live long enough to worry. Only God truly knows.
We spent this weekend in Sydney. We’ve had a lovely family weekend. For the last 3 years I’ve focused on living each day, cherishing every moment with my incredible family. We came away this weekend without the toiletries (it’s all packed and sitting on the bathroom vanity at home). A quick trip to the supermarket overcame the absence of toothbrushes, deodorant, soap and shampoo. It is however much harder to replace my medications. After 2 nights without medication to relax my muscles, I have spent countless hours awake giving me way too much time to think.
So tonight, my brain was working overtime. I slept from midnight until 3am. Since then all I seem to have done is panic about the future. It is unsettling to realise that I will always be dependant on others, which makes me completely vulnerable.
When my kids have grown up and moved out, I won’t be able to just get in the car and drop in for coffee. I realise that I will never be able to babysit my grand-children.
Mum and Dad have always been my security blanket. I’ve always known that whatever happens in my life, Mum and Dad are there if I need them. I am severely disabled now. As they get older, I realise there will come a time when they are no longer able to manage me. That reality struck tonight, taking with it a large portion of my perceived security.
So if anything happens to Steve, I will need to live in a nursing home. Nursing homes scare me. Visiting Gran in a nursing home, hearing the stories of other friends, coupled with the regular media reports on nursing homes, leaves me feeling they are institutions often lacking resources which leads to a lack of care and compassion. I would be completely dependant on the staff. The thought of being stuck in a bed with no ability to fend for myself, makes me appreciate just how vulnerable I am.
Then I started thinking about the kids becoming adults. They will establish their own lives. In today’s society, I am very aware that the kids could end up anywhere around the world. It is possible that all four of them settle elsewhere. I would have a difficult time travelling to see them. If they do stay in Canberra, it isn’t that simple for anyone to just pick me up for the day. They would need to be willing to have their houses accessible for me, buy equipment, and care for me – no small ask.
So with a very small support base in Canberra, life in a nursing home could be horrendously lonely.
Suddenly, all my plans seemed to fly out the window. I wouldn’t grow old in a rocking chair with Steve by my side, surrounded by children and grand-children. I was going to grow old alone. All the positive thoughts I had generated over the last three years had gone. I was so sad, scared and lonely. I was beside myself and just couldn’t find my way out of the darkness. A normal part of the grieving process or was I being self indulgent? I don’t know. I had no control of my thoughts.
I managed to recall some quotes. I found hope in these that things would look better in the morning.
I managed to sleep between 7 and 8 am and woke to a beautiful Summer morning in Sydney. We enjoyed a nice family breakfast followed by a wander through Paddy’s Markets. My fear for the future had gone. I was once again able to focus on the blessings in my life. I remembered that many people go through their whole lives never finding the happiness I have. Whatever happens tomorrow, my today is a precious gift.