One week ago.
I woke up in my own bed for the first time in 8 days. My bags that had been unloaded from my frozen over car the night before, awaiting me still by the kitchen door. After an 8 hour drive home in a snowstorm, hauling my belongs upstairs to unpack was low on the “to do” list that morning. So while my fiancé slept in, I made a pot of coffee and unpacked my essentials onto the kitchen table.
Journal. Pen. Jesus Calling. MacBook. Library book. Note pad.
Between the early morning sunlight coming through the kitchen window and the fresh bouquet of roses he had gotten me the night before, the ambiance of my “work space” swelled my heart. So much so that I tried to capture it’s peaceful perfection with a photo.
I dove into my quiet time by writing my first blog entry of 2018. A long stream of consciousness that explored my previous week in Nashville.
I discussed how I felt out of place with familiar friends in scenarios I’d been in hundreds of times before. How I was no longer emotionally drained from but just tired of seeing/hearing people I love making excuses for other people and being unhappy. How grateful I was for the perspective from “this side”…a side that I feel I barely survived long enough to make it to and now that I’m on it, I’m as alive as I’ve ever been.
And where I’ll quote the blog entry I wrote last Sunday (but never published) and this one that I am writing now is when I said…
“It’s funny, really. I was so ready to get back to Nashville as soon as possible. Thanks to the holidays, I had been in Michigan for 40 days straight. The restlessness was real. I was starting to feel like my days were not my own anymore. Like my “job” was to drive 45 miles each way to help my family out with whatever they needed that day, no matter how big of a deal it was or how mundane. I was ready to put some distance between us.
My car and I weren’t within the Nashville city limits more than 10 minutes before it felt like my timing was completely wrong. I was supposed to be in Michigan.”
I drove into Nashville early on a Friday evening. I had seen my Granny the night before and promised to call her once I got to Nashville so that she wouldn’t worry about me. I was driving down Interstate 40 when I called. She answered the phone and it sounded like she was gasping for air. She couldn’t get any words out. I immediately hung up the phone and called my family to get over there. When my aunt arrived less than 10 minutes later, an ambulance was right behind her. She’d had what they thought was an asthma attack. Her first real one. So new to all of us, in fact, that no one could locate her inhalers because my Granny was so insistent that “they don’t work”. Once her breathing calmed down and her vitals came up normal, EMS left and my family sat with her awhile with the promise to take her to see her doctor next week. They assured me she was OK.
I, however, was not OK.
To make matters even worse, the very next day, my mother was fit in for a last-minute surgery. Her second one since Thanksgiving. Nothing life-threatening, but still requiring a few days in the hospital.
The rest of the weekend, the rest of the week, really, just dragged on. I didn’t want to be there. At all. I wanted to be home. Music. My friends. Being out and about in my city. All of it felt as trivial as an Instagram “like”…
My phone blew up daily. Updates from family members. Check-ins with Granny. Check-ins with Mom. Walking siblings through some huge life decisions. My “job” of my family followed me over 500 miles south. I wasn’t off the hook. And I couldn’t have been more grateful. I concluded my blog with some bullet points of things I learned in that week away…the last one being…
- Family is everything. Without them, none of this matters.
So after my 8 days in Nashville (and being held captive an extra day thanks to the winter storm), I drove back on a Saturday. My very first stop once I crossed the Michigan state line was to Romulus. To sit on the floor by my Granny’s recliner. To hold her hand. To smother her in kisses. To jokingly tell her she doesn’t have to scare us all with a medical emergency to get me to come back to her faster.
So let’s go back to last week.
Peaceful. Quiet. Contemplative. Thankful to be home. Writing, reading, drinking coffee and looking out the window. Everything felt good again.
Later on that day, the Williams’ met for dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate my mom’s birthday. I got to kiss on my nephews and niece. Hug my parents. Stuff myself with pasta and go home to enjoy a lazy night of Netflix with my fiancé that was over a week overdue at this point.
Then the phone rang.
My Aunt Kathy was rushing my Granny up to Urgent Care because Granny couldn’t breathe again. Then… They are admitting her to the hospital. We are about to drive her up there. Then…she is going by ambulance because it isn’t safe to personally transport her without her on oxygen.
Even simply typing this right now, I can still hear the ringing in my ears.
At 90 years old, you cannot catch pneumonia.
I knew that.
We all know that.
And just like that, a bomb exploded on my “peaceful perfection”.
I spent the next 6 days living in hospital room 553…
…sleeping on a window seat “bed” (gym mat) with a paper thin blanket to protect me from the drafty window I was pressed against. Waking up every hour on the hour while a whole roster of nurses and techs came in to check whatever it was they needed to check whenever they needed to check it. Holding her up when she’d cough her lunges out, her back and ribs aching so badly that she couldn’t get comfortable again for hours. Watching them stick needles and IVs and leave bruises all over her frail and aged arms. Helping her in the bathroom and making jokes so that she wouldn’t feel embarrassed. Spraying down and brushing her hair when she got self conscious about her “bed head”. Trying to be the translator between her and the nurses because she couldn’t hear them 80% of the time. Helping set up and clean up every meal they brought to her. Staying quiet in the corner while she desperately tried to catch a nap whenever she could. Kissing her forehead a dozen times in a day.
**Now this is not to say that other family members did not dedicate long days up there as well. Because they did. I was just the one who took it upon themselves to take up residence in the room too, ha. **
Our days. Our heads. Our hearts.
Tried to write what I was feeling and couldn’t. Tried to learn dozens of songs for a rehearsal that I never made it to. Tried to text and email people back but didn’t know what to say. How could I plan anything…meetings, shows, studio, work-outs, dinner with my fiancé…when I really didn’t know what was going to happen.
Thanks to the good Lord above, her lunges cleared up. She started to get better.
Once she could walk down the hall with a walker, maintaining an average oxygen level, they let her go home.
She is tired. She is beat up.
She is a fighter who’s still fighting.
There are a lot more things to figure out and a lot of hard conversations to have amongst ourselves and with Granny. Some tough questions to ask ourselves, when we’re alone and processing. A reality that will be difficult to accept, but is already here nonetheless. A reality that is thankfully far less crushing than the alternative, so I’ll take it.
I performed with a band in Detroit last night and tried to stay in the moment the best I could, trying to remind myself that this is what I do when I’m not obsessing over my Grandma, haha. I was blown away by the support from the musicians and even some people in the crowd that had heard or read on Facebook about my Granny.
One woman in particular said, “At 90 years old, every day is a blessing.”
I’m so thankful for more days.
I’ll gladly take the “messy” …
Just give me more days.