I am walking more quietly these days. Life has taken on a different hue and I have been adjusting to the new pace of things. Trev is recovering from a serious bout of pneumonia but has residual complications that have resulted in much to-ing and fro-ing to the hospital for tests, overnight stays and whatnot. Worrying as my usually hale and hearty gentle man has turned in the last 6 weeks into a shadow of his normal self. Weakened physically, which is all too apparent, but also his mental acuity has deteriorated which is more worrying in a way. He draws strength from my presence and I from his. We have one another and somehow the difficult times emphasise this to us both.
When things are bad with one or other of us we have taken to a simple way of offering support. We have bought a few joke books. I sit beside him whilst he is resting and read the very worst jokes I can find. He is not allowed to smile or groan. Those are the rules. I made them up and they are good rules. We talk about our fears as well, but intersperse them with jokes so that neither of us descends into that awful anxious silence that does neither of us any good. I have never been more thankful for Trev's ability to read and re-read guitar magazines than of late. I have stocked up on all the current issues and am drip feeding them to him on a weekly basis. All in all we are getting by.
John is making his way back to us in fits and starts. More and more I see his humour even as he struggles to accept the new status quo. What strength we show when we can smile in our hardships. He too is adjusting to the new texture and pace of life. After work today I am taking him for a drive. Hopefully he will be well enough for us to stop off at our house for coffee and a quick look at our bees. An apiarist of many decades experience, he has an insight that is totally invaluable to me in my novice bee-keeping endeavours. Some days he is well enough in himself to take about 50 steps without resting which is a massive improvement on a month ago. I have made a chart so he can see improvement in a more concrete way. The day to day variations can blind us to what is happening overall.
Sometimes I lose sight of myself. It's easier somehow to care for others and demonstrate that care in simple ways. My instinct seems to naturally run that way. But self care is not something I find easy and lately I have become aware of the consequences of that. The warning signs are there and I will heed them. I have so much to be grateful for. It's funny that what has been happening in my life has made me more sharply aware of that fact than ever. Normally I'd be whinging and bitching about how hard I'm finding it all. And it is quite hard, but not so very hard. Life is good.
Once a week I sit in a room for a couple of hours with some of the bravest people I know. They wouldn't characterise themselves thus but I don't know how else to describe them. It took me a long time to work up the courage to start going to these group meetings. Each week as Tuesday evening rolls around I go through a mental tussle with my cowardly side which would prefer that I stay at home rather than venture forth to sit face to face with other people who know exactly how it feels to both want and not want to be there.
Kindness abounds, but not necessarily softness because one thing these guys do in full measure is honesty. Sometimes I get frightened by the things that are said. People revealing some of their deepest vulnerabilities to one another is quite awe inspiring to witness. Listening is a healing experience in itself and yet not one person speaks in order to burden another with the task of fixing them. Their only request is to be heard.
Every once in a while I speak too. I don't say much because I find it hard to hold myself together in places where it isn't necessary to pretend that all is well with me. Even so I say what I can when I can. I like the fact that these people are in no rush. They don't want to mend me although they're happy to keep me company whilst I try to put the pieces back together myself ... just as I keep them company whilst they do their own mending. I like that they are working through their own issues and feel vulnerable in much the same way that I do.
In life we can sometimes feel very alone in our individual battles and yet all around us are these quietly desperate wars raging on behind the seemingly serene visages we like to present to one another. When I walk into the rooms I know that there will be people there who are willing and able to talk about the difficult stuff that hardly anyone wants to discuss. Such brave folk.
Well you mightn't think so but for me laughter is a good sign on so many fronts. A sign that he is listening ... and to listen one must be present which is in itself a good sign don't you think? But more than that laughter is a sign that John is slowly making his way back to us ... trying ... doing his level best and that's all one can ever ask.
Love is powerful medicine that's for sure ... as is laughter.