Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Cup of Hot Chocolate Stirred with a Candy Cane

Looking past the Evanston Christmas tree towards our condo.

This post will just be a chatty one. So get your cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate mixed with a candy cane and I'll begin.

There have been very few posts during December. I wonder why. Some of the early ones were insightful,  some dealt with "Santa Sightings," and some were a continuation of the grief discussion I feel at this second holiday season without Gregory by my side.

I have been feeling somewhat sad most of the month but not necessarily in a bad way. I am aware of how much I miss him, but that is OK and I am able to continue to function day to day. If I spend too much time questioning the purpose of life and the meaning of death, I could loose it, but I do spend some time with those emotions in a thoughtful, loving way; hoping to come out the other side with a little bit more of an understanding.

I am afraid that much of my "feeling down" is selfish but as I typed that, I realized I shouldn't say "I am afraid." It just is ... what it is ... and it is OK to be selfish! Christmas time for Gregory and me has always been filled with together activities, with friends, with spreading more joy than we usually did all year. I miss him and I miss doing the holiday thing together.

 From an ornament created by friends Jan Yourist and Jake Bloom
and presented to Gregory and me on the purchase of our first home.

I used to do ALL the Christmas shopping for both of us, even when he was still able to get me just a few things to be able to say he did. I would buy him "wonderful things" and I would buy myself "wonderful things" and neither of us were ever disappointed. The things he bought me were practical but so, so appreciated!

Below is a photograph of one of some of the gifts from one of the last Christmases while he was still at the condo. I think I must have known we were approaching the end of any semblance of normalcy and decided to go overboard:

So the reason for fewer posts is most likely: experiencing while keeping Christmas emotions in check, enjoying the season with family and friends, preparing for my Mexico vacation, working on my memoirs, several Santa appearances, and the cold cold Chicago winter (last night 0° F.)

Photo taken by friend Son Chung

Subject change: I was going through my photo program and came across some photographs of Gregory, taken at at Skokie Hospital, when he had a fall shortly after having moved to the Lieberman Center. The gash on the back of his head, approximately 2" long, was stitched together with many metal staples. The bruise on the front of his forehead was bright red.

I instantly began sobbing at the pain and the confusion he must have felt during that experience. I howled and keened. Gigi, my cat, came running to comfortable me as she usually does when I am upset. I was able to calm down in quick order and found myself wondering why thinking about that event continues to cause me such pain.

It had happened so long ago, Gregory survived it well, I was able to comfort and sooth his fears when I arrived at the hospital, and he certainly is now no longer in pain. These were a few of my thoughts as I was calming. Most logical is that my reaction was one of empathy.

Not the gruesome photo which triggered my emotions. 
This one is a little more pleasant for my readers.

Also, the image is not something I carry around at all times so the photograph appropriately triggered my memories and not only memories of what Gregory went through but what I was going through at that time: G newly at a memory care facility, me at home alone, me having to give up some "care control" to the facility, my working through guilt at having moved him to Lieberman, and others.

Subject change: After this Christmas, I am off to San Pancho, MX for three weeks after a visit with family in TX. San Pancho is 30 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta airport and is an undiscovered, tiny fishing village with maybe four restaurants, pristine mostly deserted beaches, very little tourism to experience, a completely native experience.

I will stay at friends' B&B called Casita Cielo Azul, Little House of the Blue Sky. Jill and Link have owned it for three or four years and also live in Evanston part of the year. On the front of the property they run a coffee shop and book store. Link runs the store, Jill bakes all the pastries for the shop so I expect to return home with a few extra pounds.

 Angela: My Bedroom

The coffee shop

Part of the time I will use to do nothing, part of the time I will explore and become part of the community, and part of the time I will devote to a writer's retreat to continue working on my memoirs. All of the text is in place, the first seven years edited, and the next five years of my blog posts to be integrated into the whole. On one hand I have been enjoying working on it but on the other hand it is difficult to relieve each experience in what was real time at the time of occurrence.

I really would like my memoirs to get published and experience a certain success if only because in my research, I have found that there is not a lot out there to be of support to same-sex couples who have or are experiencing what Gregory and I experienced. All of the writing out there is about older heterosexual couples supporting each other or children helping parents with Dementia. When Gregory and I began what I have come to refer to as "Our Ordeal," he was 55 and I was 58.

My purpose in creating my memoirs is to let other couples out there know that they are not alone. That they can rise to the occasion and provide the necessary support for their partner. The message is also that Gregory was not a VICTIM of Alzheimer's but rather a HERO and that the diagnosis of Dementia is NOT A DEATH SENTENCE, Gregory and I lived a wonderful (although not always easy,) productive twelve years together. If anything the diagnosis was a gift that allowed us to use each moment together to best advantage.

Well, that is all the chit chat for now. Wishing you and yours a peaceful, loving, joyful NOEL!

Antique, "one piece" Nativity purchased early in my adulthood, fell out of favor and sold to an antique shop, bought back (at a higher price) the next year when I realized it had not fallen that far out of favor, used then by Gregory and me when we joined lives, and used to this day to make sure that Christ stays in the season as well as the food, the fun, the gifts, the wishes of "Happy Holiday!"

Gregory: July 4, 1948 - October 4, 2015

Peaceful the Bear: Support, Comfort, Confidant, Witness
Will always be part of the family now!

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