The past few months have been a bit rough for me. The night before New Year’s Eve, when Maximus was on His way down for our Christmas and New Year’s, i got a call that my grandmother was severely ill and needed to come immediately because she wasn’t expected to make it through the night. i quickly changed my clothes, took dinner out of the oven, and got everything ready to head north with Maximus as soon as He arrived, which was slated to be in minutes. Just as He arrived in the driveway, however, i got another call to stand down, that she was going to be ok and to go ahead with our holiday plans. Gah! She’s not progressed well, however, and three weeks ago we put her in hospice care at the assisted living facility she lives in. It’s been a roller coaster of better and worse days, but mostly a waiting game for her to let go.
i’d not been able to see Grandma for several weeks because of my illness, and was finally able to this past weekend. She’s not really communicative, hasn’t eaten for weeks, mostly sleeps other than a few hours where she sits with her eyes open but they are glassy, and we’re not really sure if she’s registering anything. The second day i was there, she was awake when my mom and i arrived in the morning, finding her partway out of her bed. We helped her back into bed, told her how bright her eyes looked this morning (which they did, different than the day before), and when i turned to pick up a washcloth to wash her face i heard her say, “I’m dying.” This surprised me as earlier in the month she was very resistant to that eventuality. i sat on her bed next to her and she continued, “I’m dying and I want you to know I love you very, very much.” This so startled me that she was talking so clearly and accepting of what was happening that my eyes instantly welled up and tears ran down my face. She kissed me and said, “Don’t cry, don’t let it bother you when I die.” i told her that i loved her too and that she just surprised me. i assured her that i wouldn’t let it bother me and not to let it bother her about dying. We reassured her that it was ok to go, that we would always love her. She sat quietly after that and eventually went to sleep.
i went home that afternoon thinking that she would probably pass away that night or the next day. Besides finally appearing at peace with dying and saying goodbyes, she was displaying other signs of the final stages, according to the hospice nurse, such as a very good day of consciousness, a fever, and picking at her bedclothes. i felt good that we’d said our goodbyes and was hopeful that she could go and finally be at peace.
But that did not happen. She’s still lingering on and i have been so torn about it. i so want her to be able to go and i find myself disappointed that she didn’t. i feel badly for my mom who has been caring for her and at her side for the last two months. i feel badly that i wasn’t able to help due to my illness. i was ready and she seemed ready and i don’t know what’s holding her back.
During these past several days, Maximus has been traveling for work and is in Cincinnati. This trip has been very important and i’ve not wanted to interrupt Him. i also didn’t want to text Him with trivial things as i knew that getting a text during His meeting would startle Him into thinking grandma had passed away or i was upset and would be a huge distraction for Him. i let Him communicate with me and i responded, rather than our typical pattern of communication which is texting each other at any passing thought. It wasn’t that i didn’t want to talk to Him, i did.
During the couple of times we talked on the phone late in the evening (His late, being three hours ahead due to the time difference on the east coast), our conversations consisted of Him being very excited and animated about His trip, the travel, goings on in the bar and flirting with girls there, and His meeting. i let Him talk, i didn’t share with Him how i was feeling and what was going on, and as my submissive self, didn’t feel right in interjecting about what was happening here. i desperately wanted Him to ask me about what was happening and i wanted it to come from Him, not be steered by me. Unfortunately, it meant that He went on and on about all His stuff and i just didn’t have the capacity to deal with it. We’d have ten to fifteen minutes of texting or talk about His stuff before He asked how i was doing and by that time i was just so exhausted by it that i couldn’t talk about it at all. i felt my stuff was a huge let-down after all His excitement. i wanted His stuff to cheer me up and ending our conversation with my stuff didn’t allow that. All i wanted to do was to get off the phone. And that didn’t go well as i was emotional, frustrated, and He didn’t understand and wanted to hear was what happening, not wanting to let me go.
The last night of His trip was the worst conversation. Our phone call followed the same pattern and during His talking He mentioned that members of His team were texting Him wondering where He was and that they were waiting for Him in the bar–i told Him to go. He didn’t want to, He’d waited all day to hear my voice and get an update. This got very frustrating for me and i ended up raising my voice, insisting over and over to go to the bar, that i didn’t do anything significant that day to tell Him about (i really hadn’t, i had no energy and wandered around my house) and just wanted to get off the phone. i desperately wanted off the phone and absolutely did NOT want to hang up on Him, but i was at my emotional limit. He finally relented out of frustration and we said goodbye and hung up.
i didn’t feel He was being sensitive to what i needed. i texted how i felt and He replied that He was trying to be sensitive but had not been able to convey that. i let Him know that i didn’t have the capacity to hear for ten minutes how cool everything was there, that i wasn’t angry, just didn’t have the emotional capacity for it. i let Him know that i needed to get out of the conversation and didn’t want to hang up on Him, apologized for raising my voice. He said He understood.
Hours later, i hadn’t gotten a goodnight text from Him, like He always does. i texted Him, asking if we could talk. i was prepared to talk about what i needed. There was no reply so i called His room to leave a message, thinking He was still at the bar and didn’t hear His phone. He answered. i was taken aback, realizing that He’d gone to bed without saying goodnight.
He didn’t know what to do, didn’t know whether to text goodnight or not, not sure if reaching out to me was ok or not. i shared that it hurt to not hear goodnight from Him, that we would not have done that if we were physically together. He agreed. i then shared what i needed from Him, how i needed to be selfish right now and talk about me first, have Him ask about me and what’s going on, not hear for ten minutes how cool everything is there. i needed His stories to cheer me up after i share what’s going on and how i’m feeling here.
He felt horrible because He’d ignored His gut feelings. His gut was telling Him that i was not doing ok but when He asked me at the very start of every conversation, “How are you doing?” and i answered, “i’m okay…”, He ignored His gut and “took the wrong easy way” and continued self-absorbed in His conversation about Himself. “It was so wrong and I’m so sorry I did that,” He continued. i explained that “okay…” was not great or super or wonderful, which are my normal responses to Him when He asks how i am. Okay means i’m just hanging on. Being on the other side of the country is tearing Him up when i’m struggling here. He’s experiencing a level of empathy He’s not felt before for anyone.
He related His gut feelings about how i was doing to a time He was swimming along the coastline in Hawaii. While swimming, He got an uneasy gut feeling that He needed to get out of the water–there wasn’t anything that He saw that explained that feeling, it was just an overwhelming sense that He needed to get out of the water. When He walked out onto the beach, a lifeguard approached Him and told Him how glad they were that He got out of the water as several tiger sharks were following Him and they were trying to figure out how to get Him out of the water and away from them before they attacked. Had He ignored His gut, He might have been attacked and maybe killed.
He was disappointed that He’d ignored His gut this time and it was no less as dangerous. He apologized and i accepted His apology. And i promised to not let my submissive nature and desire to serve everyone get in the way of communicating what i really need. We also promised to never, ever go to sleep without saying goodnight. He ended our talk by telling me how important this conversation was–this was a first for Maximus, Him acknowledging how important a difficult discussion was. This alone made me love His guts even more.