The Cook Awakening

Free Fall

July 2, 2012
Posted in: Living with Health Challenges, Seasonal Change

My 76-year-old mother moved to Oregon 3 months ago. It was time. She was handling the details of life adequately, but just barely. So, my husband and I decided to build her a little mother-in-law unit in our back yard.

And since then… aiyiyi! I’m hearing stories of acceleration like this from friends, from clients, and I’m experiencing it at home.

For some it’s happy things like a marriage and a new house. Another (few!) are having babies.

But for many the changes are harder. Deaths or illnesses. Old griefs deciding to surface now.

For me it’s a mixed bag.

Moving is stressful in the best of times. But at my mom’s age, it was really more than felt humanly possible, especially moving to a strange city where she doesn’t know a soul besides us. I take my hat off to her for being willing to take the leap when we asked her to.

In the chaos of the move, my own immune system took a hit, and I received a diagnosis of pneumonia. Perfect timing.

And, really, it was.

I resist taking antibiotics unless really necessary. Some of you may know that I contracted Lyme disease when I lived in rural California. I’ve been building my health for a number of years now to get ready to treat the Lyme. Suddenly, a doctor was prescribing doxycycline for my pneumonia, which I knew was one of the drugs my Lyme doc would want me to take once we made the decision to treat it directly.

Something clicked for me. I called my doctor and told him I thought it was time. Far from the dread I have experienced in the past when I think about taking on the assault of pharmaceuticals, I was excited and energized at the thought of finally meeting this challenge head on. I felt like a health warrior: “Bring it on! I’m ready!” And, my doctor agreed. So, I started two high-dose courses of antibiotics, with the promise of a third to be added soon.

Meanwhile, my mother was not recovering from the stress of the move the way we thought she would. We expected her to be tired for a while. All of us were. The move was a huge push for the whole family.

But she was unable to eat a full meal and her stomach hurt afterward. Then she had a bad night, spending half of it in the bathroom. She was so weak in the morning I convinced her to let me take her to the emergency room.

That was the first of two trips to the ER in three weeks. She’s gotten more and more forgetful, and less and less able to eat. The doctors have not been able to find anything wrong yet, and it’s been agonizingly slow getting her to agree to and get scheduled for more invasive testing.

In the process I was struggling. The antibiotics I’m on were leaving me tired and nauseous. I was feeling judgments about my mother’s lifestyle that I suspect has led to her ill health. My mother and I were butting heads over what I thought she should do, and what she was willing to do. We’re two Aries and butting heads was not new for us.

A social worker who came to assess her for services said something that struck home: “We all have the right to make choices, even bad choices.”

In the stress of this time, I was straying from my ideal self-care regimen. Being on antibiotics it was pretty important that I avoid all sugars, and I wasn’t. Candida loves a combination of antibiotics and sugar. So, I wasn’t feeling even as well as I could have. And the irony of judging my mother for her “bad choices” while taking bites of Coconut Bliss and dark chocolate was not lost on me.

I cancelled four of my public offerings in two months. I was afraid that my business would suffer, but that hasn’t been the case. Some wonderful new clients have come in. I’m grateful, because my work has been a rich and grounding place for me to put my energy at this time. I feel even more present for my clients’ work, and energized to help them find their way. My mother’s disinterest in making lifestyle changes has led me to value the desire in others to regain mental, emotional and physical health even more.

We still don’t know what’s going on with my mother. She’s lost about 50 pounds in three months. I’m having my doubts as to whether she’s going to recover even when we do have a diagnosis. She has agreed to get the testing done that is the next step, and that will happen this week.

I had a dream last night. We were in the car, my husband, the kids and I. My husband was driving too fast. We were on a mountain road. We skidded on a turn—and we went over the edge.

My first response was anger and fear. God damn it! Why does he drive this way? He’s not careful!

We slid down a slope, the car finally bumping more slowly, seeming to come to a rest. We were okay. I was enervated, furious, and relieved.

Then the car lurched, and we went off a cliff. We were free-falling, and we could see that the bottom was very, very far below. We would be free falling for a while.

And in that moment, I knew the whole game had changed. There was no time for anger or fear. Sure, maybe it was my husband’s “fault” that we went over the edge. Maybe he “should” have been more careful.

The Buddha gave a teaching once on wondering about the source of suffering. He said something like this, “If an arrow strikes you, is it useful to wonder if it’s poisoned? To wonder who made the arrow? What kind of wood it is fashioned from? What its exact weight and length is? Where it was made? No, the useful thing to do is pull it out.”

I reached out and took my husband’s hand. I told him I loved him. I turned around and took my youngest’s hand in the seat behind me. I looked in his eyes and told him I loved him. He was scared, but when he saw me he smiled. The same with my oldest, I reached for him and smiled, and he relaxed. We hurtled through space, and we all told each other we loved each other, and we relaxed.

Then I woke up.

I’m going to tell my mom I love her today. I’m going to remember to tell her I love her every day. I’m going to tell my husband and my kids, too. And, I’m going to look in their eyes when I tell them, and make sure we all stop and drink it in. It’s the only important part of the story.

And, dear reader, whether I know you or not, I love you, too. Because, it’s the only important part of any story.

We are all in free fall. The ground may be closer for some of us than for others, but none of us knows when we’ll hit.

Of course, on the level of spirit, there is no ground. But that’s a different post.

I will do my best to honor all our choices, mine and others’, as the best we’re able to make in the moment. My wish for you is that you are able to do the same.

Please hold my family in your thoughts if you can. I will not be holding any potlucks or classes this summer so that I can keep my focus with us. I am seeing clients, and loving it.

Life is good. And I mean that truly.

Wishing you all the best. Many thanks for your support. I’ll write as I know more.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012 at 5:33 am and is filed under Living with Health Challenges, Seasonal Change. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


15 Responses to “Free Fall”

  1. Leslie Struthers Says:

    Dear Druga!
    One of the hardest things we learn is how hard it is to let others make their own choices. I watched my Dad make choices during his last months and realy struggled with being OK with them. But he managed his decline the way he lived his life, something I struggled with because I wasn’t always in line with how he lived his life. In the end it was his life to squander or cherish and in balance he mostly cherished it. I miss him and I am glad the Powers That be helped me to understand it is OK to let our parents be people with their own path, I was reminded one day, when my folks asked the kids not to come home for what we knew would be his last Christmaas as they wanted to be alone together, I was the kid and they had the relationship long before I was a twinkle in their eyes.
    I think you can be proud of your journey and your mother’s. I’m sending peace and love your way!
    Thank you for posting this.

  2. admin Says:

    Thanks, Leslie. This has been a test of my attachments to my preferences. My ideas of good and bad, right and wrong. There’s that, and then there’s what’s actually happening. And, what’s actually happening is usually very sweet at the core. Hard decisions.

  3. admin Says:

    Funny, I just realized that my mom probably had to let go over and over in my adulthood around choices I made that she didn’t agree with. My childhood, too. I wanted to move her here because it’s my turn, she took care of me for a long time. I didn’t think it through that the roles would be turned around so thoroughly.

  4. Sherri Brown Says:

    Dear Durga,
    I am moved to tears. Thank you for sharing this.
    I love you too!

  5. Dori Says:

    Hi Durga,
    I remember having the same thoughts about my grandmother when I was helping care for her, that the choices she’d made had probably made her illness worse. But I know that my discomfort with that thought has helped me get to the place where I can be comfortable knowing that our illnesses are part of our stories.
    They reflect who we were, who we are, and the unavoidable situations we’re dealt in life. I found so many opportunities for learning and so many blessings through my grandmother’s illness, so that she was teaching me bigger and bigger lessons right until her death.
    Mom’s are complex though, and I think it was easier for me to be understanding with my grandmother than it was for her daughters… my mom really can push my buttons too!
    Thanks for sharing, you’re amazingly brave and insightful!

  6. admin Says:

    Thanks, Sherri. Big hugs to all of us.

    And, Dori – moms. Changing roles is pretty hard to do. Working on it. I look forward to reading your insights, too. *hint hint nudge nudge ;)*

  7. Diana Says:

    I love you , Durga. Thank you for the great reminder.

  8. Paula Springer Says:

    Dearest Durga,
    I have come to see how amazingly graceful you are and I admire how you are moving through space with love on this ‘freefall’. Your light is shining as you witness what your mother is experiencing, which is indeed her chosen path…her move here wraps her in the soft cloud of the love you and your family make, which is also the place where, as you forgive all error you are healed. Its perfectly perfectly perfect. Thank you for such warm insightful thoughts in this post.

  9. Kat Arentz Says:

    I have been thinking about you, Durga and looking forward to the next Paleo Potluck! Thank you for letting us all know how things are going and sharing a beautiful lesson. I have had a similar dream in hard times and there is really only one thing you can do, cherish each person and give them pure love. Thank you! We love you back!

  10. admin Says:

    Thanks so much, all of you! I feel the perfectly perfect, alongside the oh, my god, what do I do now? And I know it’s all part of the flow of the story. We do our best, and know that love informs it all.

    Thanks for reading, and loving me back.

  11. Lasara Says:

    I love you, lady. Thank you. Tears indeed. Dying before we die. Thank you, and blessings to you and the whole family.

    And, I love you. Again. Over and over.

  12. Tawny Says:

    Dear Durga,
    Beautiful story. I love you too and love blessings to you and your family. We are all one.

  13. Dayle Says:

    I love you even more after reading this. I praise you for making this positive choice to be focused and grounded with your family. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Hugs to you, your boys (all 3 of them) and your mom.

  14. admin Says:

    Tawny, Dayle, thank you. So much love to you both.

    All One indeed.

  15. Durga Says:

    And Lasara, so much love. Over and over.

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