Life. It’s crazy, isn’t it?
But for me, it is.
When I look back at the last decade of my life, it’s hard to imagine that all of it has been real. Mostly, it’s been crazy.
Crazy to think that those big, massive storms we got caught up in didn’t swallow us whole. Crazy to think that we didn’t drown in those rough waters of these insane challenges we’ve faced as a family. Crazy to think that we could successfully dry ourselves off and face the struggles again and again and now again.
Sometimes I just sit and stare.
Rob asks me what I’m thinking. I tell him that I’m not thinking anything. He doesn’t believe me because he knows that, over the years, my mind never stops thinking about something. But, this last hurricane has left me just to sit and stare.
For someone who has always wished that the thoughts and ideas constantly swirling around her creative mind would just stop….just for a minute…or a night, I’m suddenly plagued by the fact that, after such a life-altering experience, I can’t cough up even a single thought.
So, I sit and think about the fact that I can’t think.
I think about the fact that no ideas or questions or thoughts are swirling around my mind, mostly because I assumed that they would be more vivid than ever…I thought I would experience hard to ignore thoughts.
Many times, I just have nothing.
Nothing but silence.
Recently, I stopped worrying about this and chalked it up to burn out.
Clearly, I had been exhausted.
Most days, I’m not sure how I keep moving because my body starts to fail me and my mind sure seems fried, but I keep going because he needs me. I keep going because they need me.
But maybe all the prescriptions, the rules, the doctor appointments, the nurse visits, the therapies, maybe all the medical stuff had soaked up any room I had left in my brain to fit my thoughts.
Here comes that crazy again.
As I sat in silence…the kind of silence that would have once seemed so painful to me, I realized something.
I thought I had nothing. Nothing but silence. Until I realized how big of a something silence can be.
It was in the silence that I put things into perspective.
When Anthony was diagnosed with his brain tumor, we spent 14 days sitting in the PICU, at his bedside, waiting, watching, praying, hoping. Of course, during that time, Rob and I were both exhausted. But it was a physical kind of tired, not this emotional kind.
My soul wasn’t tired then.
What was different?
For starters, Rob and I were both physically sitting next to Anthony.
One at each side of the bed.
There was no silence.
There was beeping machines and codes and footsteps of doctors entering the room every 2 hours to do neuro checks and whispers from nurses checking to see if we needed anything. There were loud noises.
In many ways, they were a comfort.
The beeping of machines gave me peace of mind that my son was alive.
The footsteps reminded me that doctors were close by.
The whispers from nurses reminded us that we were surrounded, supported, and safe.
When Rob had his surgery, things were different.
I was not allowed to sit at his bedside.
I couldn’t feel the warmth of his hand as I slid mine into his, hoping for him to grab my fingers.
With Rob, the waiting, watching, praying, and hoping was done from afar.
There was uncertainty.
There was sickening silence.
There was wondering if prayers worked and what exactly hope was anyway.
Minutes were turning into hours staring at a phone waiting for a call. And when I finally did hear the beeping of those machines, the machines that once brought me comfort when I sat next to Anthony, those beeps suddenly made me feel sick.
I couldn’t hear or see or touch my husband.
And I had NO clue if he was actually ok.
When Rob had his surgery, there was silence.
Lots of silence.
Silence in the kitchen where he once joked with me as he cooked our meals.
Silence in the family room where turning on the TV to watch our shows seemed inconsiderate.
Silence in the bedroom where I sat in darkness, wondering what he was doing, how he was doing, if he was doing at all.
Sitting in that silence changed me. It changed me quite a bit. But not all silence is the same.
When Anthony was sick, I wrote. I documented his journey. I journaled our experiences. I put pen to paper and typed until my heart was content because it gave me release.
It dulled the loud sounds that bothered me.
It complemented the musical sounds that gave me a sense of safety.
It didn’t just update our family, but it helped me get those swirling thoughts out of my mind and leave them somewhere that I could revisit another day.
When Rob got sick, I froze.
I went through the motions.
I took the drive to the hospital.
I walked him down the hall to surgery.
I kissed him goodbye.
And then I drove home in silence to sit in more waves of silence that would seemingly last forever.
Now, he’s home.
He’s alive, and he’s doing well.
But I was still stuck, stuck in the silence that had numbed my soul during this storm.
Today, after dropping him off, watching the hospital doors close behind him as he headed off for another biopsy, I found myself zoned out.
I began my drive home in silence.
Don’t get me wrong; silence is great.
Silence is great when it’s meaningful or productive or recharging.
But this silence?
It was numbing.
This silence was meaningless and blank and void of anything good, and I was tired of it.
I turned my music up as loud as it could go and screamed as loud as my lungs would allow (big apologies if I scared anyone on the BLVD in New Haven).
I’m done with this silence.
I’m over it.
Why is this journey so different for me when journeys before, equally as tricky, seemed like a walk in the park….considering.
I realized that the journey was different because I was silent.
Writing has always been my passion. I’m lucky that it’s become my life’s work. But, when you write for a living, writing for a hobby doesn’t come as easily.
When Anthony was in the PICU fighting for his life, I wrote.
I wrote about everything I felt, I saw, I experienced.
I wrote and wrote and wrote.
Family and friends loved getting the updates and waited for the next blog to drop, so I wrote some more.
When the kids picked up Rob to drive him to the hospital, I focused all my energy on not falling apart. As I watched them drive away, I held it all in because beside me was a little boy who was watching my every move as he tried to make sense of all that was going on with his Dad.
So, when Rob ended up in the hospital, I held it all in.
I was silent.
I smiled at my son. I hugged him extra tight. I showed up for him in ways I never thought I could.
I got him through all the ups and downs and made sure my husband knew we were all here to support him in every way possible.
I knew what everyone else needed, but when it came to me?
I didn’t know what I needed.
All of the stresses of this storm had no quick fix, and if they had any fix at all, I sure as hell didn’t know what it was.
So, I stayed quiet.
I put one foot in front of the other.
I woke up. I tried to work. I answered the calls. I talked to the doctors. It seemed like I did everything from afar that I did for Anthony next to his bedside. Yet when I sat down to unwind at the end of the night, I felt nothing.
I felt absolutely nothing.
Sure, the circumstances were completely different.
My son vs. my husband… another type of love.
Bedside vs. by the phone…a different kind of control.
It hit me.
The silence. The lack of feelings. Blank emotions.
It was time to put pen to paper.
So, for myself, I picked up that pen and furiously began writing all the things.
Now, it’s time to hit the keys.
To process these thoughts…
to give the updates…
maybe to inspire…
Perhaps to raise awareness, as we’ve done through Anthony’s journey.
Maybe to help another…
even just one person…
to relate to another human being…
to let someone else know that they’re not in this alone.
To remind me that I’m not in this alone.
I’ll do my best to hold myself accountable…to write when and if I can.
But you can hold me responsible, too.
I genuinely want to document this experience for Rob in the same way I did for Anthony.
I want to write for Rob, I want to write to Rob.
I want to write Rob’s heart content.
And I genuinely want to keep on writing until my heart’s content.