Soft underbelly up
We vowed to never be those people. People who sleep with a dog. Then Miss Lily joined our family, and she now sleeps right between our heads. I won't say which end faces me. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, like a child and its wubbie, I reach across the pillows to find her sleeping on her back, legs straight up, head cocked to one side, and soft underbelly exposed.
I want to go through life soft underbelly up, exposing what is true, and feeling safe in it. When people, from time to time, have told me I'm so transparent I tend to think, 'no, I'm just me.' For good or bad, I'm wired to do life that way.
Back in December I posted resolutions here, and they are actually coming along. I'm reading a lot, knitting a sock very slowly, staying in touch with family and friends, and doing yoga most days. In spite of resolutions going reasonably well, so far 2015 has been tough. We started with snow and more snow, then a dose of flu served up to everyone around the table, and right after that my brother died unexpectedly.
We should have expected it. At least we should have been less surprised. His life was hard and tragic with too many years of destroying himself to undo the damage, and it caught up with him, but I didn't see it coming. And our last conversation ended badly. A hard lesson that you never know when the last is the last. I'm still working through all of that, and most days it's fine and okay but there are moments when it all bubbles to the surface and I don't know what to do with it. Losing another sibling to a tragic life.
Here's the thing: what and how much to share when you write? Some blogs are happy and chatty and recap latest episodes of reality shows; some serve up recipes for the best casserole; some debate current topics. Some write about family members, but only the ones who make for good fodder.
Mine is just me. I'm what is called a 'lifestyle blogger' - I write about my life. The good, the not so great, whatever interests me at the moment, etc. Some writers can segment their lives, vowing to never write about this or that subject, or person, but I've got a soft underbelly bent to my personality so that when I try to write around the truth I don't write.
Burying my brother was hard in every way and then some, but the real storm was the aftermath. The time when I stayed with my mother, who my brother had been helping with this and that. I had been living in that world where I thought all was okay. Within days I found out it was not.
When you don't see something, and it's obvious to others, you go back and wonder why. A rear view picture of life often isn't helpful but sometimes it explains things, and that's what I'm finding.
It now makes sense that even though my mother insists on having a cell phone, hers will never be used. Rather, it sits on the shelf near the kitchen, protected by paper she fashioned into a holder, with 'SEL FON' written on it, to remind her what it is. I now am forced to see there's a reason the TV and the computer grew covered with dust. Christmas checks and birthday cards quit coming. The rules of a child's game were just too confusing to her. She will not only never beat me at Scrabble, we will never play again. It would be too frustrating for her and heartbreaking for me.
After digging through piles of paperwork, and gathering it all to take home, we've got some systems in place so that she can continue to live where she is. For now.
It's the 'for now' that is so hard. How long is that? And what next? I'm the one, ultimately, who has to make the decision, knowing she will feel betrayed and abandoned, and this middle child wants everyone to like me, be happy, especially my mother.
We sat in her little one room convenience apartment, where the chairs fight the double bed for floor space. I studied her frame, saw that she has become fragile and small, with pale blue eyes that look at me with questions she can't ask, trusting me with more than she knows. She tells me she is fine, great actually. But she can't keep track of her rent, or walk more than the circle where she lives or she'll get confused, and thank God she gave the car away, but she's stuck at home because even the senior bus is too confusing for her now.
I've prayed, I've cried a little, probably not enough. I've talked my sweet husband's ears off, I've read and I've done lots of work on the computer to set up bills and routines and helpers and right now we're okay. But I know the hard choices are coming and that is my soft underbelly right now.
So again, be kind. Don't honk. Don't growl. Smile. Let them go ahead of you in line. Listen. Because we all have soft underbelly that we're dealing with, the real, hard stuff of life that sometimes feels like a strong undercurrent carrying us far out to sea, leaving us not sure we can get back to shore safely. Mine is a little, old lady with grey hair all askew and a short gait. Yours may look different, or maybe not even be visible to the naked eye, but it's there, feeling vulnerable and exposed.