Normal. I stop to ponder this. What is normal? I have come to believe normal is anything which becomes a regular part of your life. It is neither good nor bad; it just is. So many days have passed since I last heard from Bert that this feels normal now. Normal in a heart breaking kind of way. In an accepting kind of way that verges on wrong. But it is my reality now; it is normal.
Christmas for the last 2 years has been consumed with Bert and caring for him in extra special ways. First it was the Christmas he spent in the blistering cold, having just been released from the hospital after major surgery and all that meant to our family on a day to day basis. Survival was the aim. Then it was last Christmas where we got the opportunity to make Christmas a season filled with wonderful memories, with gifts and all the warmth and hope the season offers. It was a Christmas that saw us get to share our normal with him. And it was beautiful. Alexa performed at the residence Bert called home; three songs and with each one Bert beamed brighter. So happy to show off his “granddaughter” and “grandson” to all of his new friends. It was at Christmas that we got to meet the lovely lady that was consuming much of his time, and it was at Christmas were he was reunited with some of his family he hadn’t seen in years. It was glorious, it was normal, and alas, it was fleeting.
I had long since stopped worrying about whether Bert would be able to acclimatize to his new living arrangements. I guess you could say it was the ultimate definition of success because it ceased to even be a question of my mind. Health and wellness crept into the corners of his life and for over a year all went well. Life looked normal. Sure I had to learn to adjust my expectations to this normal, but soon it felt right and I found freedom to explore other passions that filled my heart, with the extra time.
Oh how I wish it was possible to want something enough for someone else, to make it so. But this is not the case. And Christmas this year went back to “normal” for dear, beloved Bert. And it went back to “normal” for us.
What began as a mild winter turned bitter cold and the idea of him making his way on the streets again, breaks my heart. I am powerless to change this. I remind myself that he chose this, and there is power in having a choice. Even this truth brings me little comfort.
He is getting older, and his body more frail. He has not been kind to it in recent years and hard living makes living hard. I wonder if he could go back in time if he would change anything. If he would pick the comfy bed that used to hold him and the rules that felt like they had a choke hold on him over the park bench or atm lobby that is now home. If he would call me from his home phone one last time to tell me he was sorry but that he loved me over the radio silence. I wonder if….
I have always wanted to be a person who continually learns and grows. It is a pillar of who I am. One of the things I am learning, is that this can be a painful process. But I am also learning that it is worth it. Every second of it; the beauty, the pain and everything in between.
I sit on the floor in my livingroom in the dark. Those that belong to me are all nestled in bed. My world is as it should be and it is divinely silent. The darkness that usually brings me peace and comfort feels somehow foreboding tonight. So I surrender. I allow them to come. First just one escapes my eye and slides slowly down my cheek. Then the tears begin to fall, bringing with them every emotion I am experiencing, from the depths of my soul. For this moment, I allow myself the grace to simply feel them all. Without judgment. Without need for analysis. Without malice. Just freedom.
To be continued…