My house is kind of a wreck at the moment. I’m sipping cranberry juice and trying to gather my thoughts.
Events are hard to put into words sometimes.
My father-in-law passed away October 5th. We had flown to MD from FL to say goodbye just the day before. I’m so glad we made it.
Two days later, while we were still in MD, my mom went to the ER here in FL with a GI bleed.
The following day, hurricane Matthew roared into our town of Melbourne FL, taking out our power and chunks of our backyard fence. We were still in MD.
My husband and I watched Jim Cantore broadcast from Melbourne while we sorted through my father-in-law’s paperwork and I spoke intermittently to my mom’s doctor on the phone. It’s hard to focus on one thing when your heart is being jerked from one sad/frightening circumstance to the next. And then back again. For six days.
At moments, it felt like I was watching events unfold from outside myself. There was so much to do, so many people to talk with. It didn’t seem like we finished anything, just made a few more steps towards whatever the end goal was. Life was very scattered that week. Errands, decisions, tough conversations, plans, expectations, tears, and fences all flying about.
Now that we’re all home, we’re tired and still processing.
Our daughter and youngest son and his wife worked hard to prepare the houses for the storm, then planned to evacuate to St. Petersburg, but my mom’s issues delayed our daughter’s departure. Before she knew it, the hospital was on lock down because the hurricane was imminent, and our daughter could not leave. In retrospect, the hospital was a good place to be, but our girl was torn as well, because she wanted to leave with her brother, but grandma was not well, and we were gone.
I can appreciate the weight of that dilemma because our hearts were splintered as well, six states away.
It’s so hard when there are no choices that give you peace.
Mom was diagnosed with an undetermined GI bleed that stopped on its own. Because she is 96, exploratory surgery/colonoscopy was not an option. She was also diagnosed with a UTI, and then a few days later, pneumonia. The infections cleared up with meds, and we were home from MD in time to bring her home from the hospital 8 days after she entered. We were gone 6 of those days. We are so proud of our dedicated-underpaid-teacher daughter. She lost a grandfather, nursed a hospitalized grandma, and weathered the worst of hurricane Matthew on her own.
Our younger son and daughter-in-law helped prepare two houses for the storm, then headed west with 5 animals and baby James. And Elmo.
Our oldest son was my husband’s stand-in at the funeral. Yep, we missed it, had to come home that morning. We were there for the most difficult days, but missed the ending, which helps with partial emotional closure. However, we were blessed to see a few pictures, and hear a few stories, of our stand-in son being gentle with and helpful to my mother-in-law.
Our immediate family was so fractured that week; it was wonderful to hug the son in MD, but we missed the two kids and daughter-in-law in FL. Our daughter-in-law texted pictures of baby James often, and the hubs and I just about teared up with every image. At 9 months, James is chubby and happy and fresh, and he was having his first hurricane experience. And we were so far away.
It’s taken me several days to unpack my thoughts about the week of Oct. 4, 2016. I’m glad it’s behind us. I know people get hospitalized every day; people pass from this life every day; hurricanes form easily and often during “hurricane season” here in FL. I pray we never have all three in the same week again.
In spite of the unrest that week, there were blessings:
We arrived in time to say final words.
The hospice staff was wonderful.
The cremation process was smooth and kind, and less expensive than expected.
By husband was able to handle much of the paperwork in the few days we had.
I got to visit with members of my family, who are also in MD.
I witnessed the best of my husband: the willingness to do anything, tender-heartedness with his mom, a vulnerability that came through his occasionally tearful eyes.
My father-in-law passed peacefully.
My mom recovered.
The family homes in FL had no major damage.
Baby James and his family had a nice long weekend with family in St. Petersburg.
I’m so grateful God’s mercies are new every day.