Thursday, August 7, 2008

a moment of awareness

Life has thrown a lot of stuff at me over the past few days. I'm managing, although sometimes I am aware that I'm starting to compartmentalize things again. Put that feeling away for later, I tell myself, and then I put the box in the back of the closet where I may never find it again.

When you're being strong for someone else's sake, it's easy to talk yourself back into that numb state. But it only lasts as long as you're in the hospital, sitting by your brother's bedside as the nurses initiate hypothermia protocol, in order to minimize the impact of the heart stoppage. Once you've done your bit, and you're free to go home, reality begins to bite at you again. Not like a gnat, or mosquito, more like a large dog that's been chasing you down the road and telling you not to kid yourself anymore.

My dreams have been filled with dogs lately. Sometimes they are just there, and I know they are protecting me. Sometimes I dream about my dog with his beautiful eyes. Last night I was poop-scooping after a dog I'd never seen before. Like most of my dream dogs, he was a Lab. Someday I will have more than one dog.

My brother is slowly getting better. His short-term memory seems to be improving. When I wrote my last post, he was still unconscious, we didn't know if or when he would wake up. And then there was a day of agony, when he had to be told repeatedly that he'd been in an accident. If someone wasn't with him, he would panic, because he didn't know why he was there. Yesterday, when I saw him, he was tired and weak, so unlike himself, but he had a grasp on what was going on. They're moving him out of ICU as soon as a bed becomes available on another unit. My sister-in-law slept at home for the first time, two nights ago. His recovery will be long, and no one really knows what the long-term prognosis is yet, but he is with us, and there is a chance that he will lead some kind of normal life.

In the midst of all this, I am dealing with my own issues, somewhere, somehow in my few minutes at home, in the seconds I grab on the phone. While we were camping, I told him a bit more. He has a way of drawing out the truth, and the truth is that I am queer, and that I cannot be with him any more, for that and other reasons. And over the few days we've had since returning, we have had conversations about next steps. These are painful, heart-wrenching exchanges for both of us, not angry, not disrespectful, but a sad acknowledgment that our relationship as a couple is over.

We are friends, we are co-parents, we care about each other. This is important and heartening for me, because we can work together to make our transitions easier. Materially, for now, nothing changes. It would be silly to sell the house now, and we would end up with nothing. In two years, urban property values will skyrocket, as people who are car-dependent move away from the suburbs and back to the city. E needs the stability of home and school, and I need to finish my degree. I will not compromise this time, I will not make practical and safe choices for the sake of feeing safe - my goal, when we moved to this city, was to get my degree and I am going to finish it. Our house is large enough that we can share the space - I have turned M's old bedroom into an office, and I can easily convert it to a bedroom and still have room for a desk.

I think it will work. I can't see this lasting longer than a year, or two. As long as it takes me to finish, and decide what my next steps will be. And in the meantime, E can have both her parents near her, and we can make a slow, gradual transition.

In all the chaos, over the weekend, I had a few moments when I realized that I seriously underestimate my family. On Sunday, we were all together in the ICU waiting room. My sister and her husband. My youngest brother and his wife. My nieces and nephews. My brother the priest, or should I say, monastic brother. He wore his brown robes, looked imposing as usual, and did not try to spout platitudes, for which I am grateful. He traveled from northern Quebec to be with us. We were all there, my parents, my SIL's family, my best friend from high school, and it was chaotic and noisy and there was so much damn love in the room that I thought I would explode. Sure, there was friction, and not everything went as planned, but we were there, together.

So, if we can all come together in a time of crisis, and be there for each other, what makes me think that my family wouldn't do the same for me??? They may not understand me, they may not agree with my lifestyle, but they love me just the same. I can tell them who I am, they will accept me for who I am (after the shock wears off) and we will all be better for it.

Sunday night, when I came home from the hospital, I watched Amy Ray TV. I am becoming obsessed. I heard Rabbit Foot for the first time, and it seemed to capture everything that I had been feeling since Friday. I sat in front of the computer with my headphones on, watched the same video three times, and wept. I needed the release so badly.

Thank you Amy. And thank you, my wonderful, strange family, for teaching me so much about who we are.

For some reason, I can't add the widget, but you can watch Amy perform the song here.


Earth Muffin said...

I'm glad your brother is improving. I was hoping you'd post an update when you had a chance. I'm also glad to hear that your...well, I guess he's not your "partner" any more...your, uh, former partner(?) is being supportive during this unstable time. You both really seem to have your child's best interests at heart and that is really cool and unselfish of both you. I hope your journey ends in happiness!

Camlin said...

yeah, we don't know what to call ourselves either. We had a phone call today, that N answered. After a few seconds he said to the caller,"Here, I'll let you speak to my...uh...wife."

We'll figure it out.

Maria said...

Interesting song. But, I wish they could have had some more room to spread out, they all looked so cramped together, yes?

I am glad that your brother is improving. How frightened you must all have been!

And, yes, small steps now. Every decision I make in my life keeps my child front and center. I don't get it when people say to put your marriage, your relationship first. I couldn't do that if I tried. Liv is first. Always.

Camlin said...

If you go back to the widget, you'll see a tab that's marked "Shows." I think that the song I was referring to was titled "Day 6 - Rabbit Foot" Could have been Day 5. The show that was up was part of a live performance she did this week, a fundraiser.

Eastcoastdweller said...

What a dedicated and sensitive person You are! Remember, amidst the worrying and the caring, to take some time for Yourself always!

Thank You for visiting my blog!

Mon said...

I said it in the comments I just posted in your previous post, but I'm happy your brother is on the mend.

Amy Ray TV...I'm hooked too. I love it, and watch too much of it. I downloaded her new tracks and they rock.

I'm so proud of you for having this talk with your husband. I wish I had that courage. You are on your way.

You sound like such a good caring parent, and as you know, I have little ones myself and I totally respect how you are handling this.

Camlin said...

Hey OC

I don't think you have any less courage than I do. I think our situations are very similar, but my (former?) partner is someone that I can trust and confide in, even if we are no longer a couple.

It is heartening to know that there's someone else out there who is experiencing challenges like mine. Makes me feel a lot less isolated.

I love, love love Amy's new CD. my copy arrived in the mail today, just in time for Wednesday's road trip.