Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Life is a Game of Jenga

OK...so it dawned on me today that my life is like a game of Jenga.  You take a block that's been wearing down from the bottom of the pile, and while hopefully you remember to polish it up a little on the sleeve of your shirt along the way, you slide it back into place on top of the pile so you can focus on your next move.

Yep.  My life is a game of Jenga.

So, I've taken this block out of the bottom of my pile called weight loss, and I'm polishing it off on the way to placing it on the bottom, when suddenly I realize that the blocks labelled my growing daughter and my fragile in laws are starting to come loose.

I'm placing that weight block firmly on top here, and now it's time to figure out which block to polish next.

My in laws are in dire straits.  It's sad.  It hurts my heart, mostly for what it must feel like for my husband, but I'm honestly more than perplexed at his reaction, and the lack of reaction in his siblings.  Here's the deal.  Mother in law is diagnosed with an extremely bad case of gall bladder stones a year ago, during preop tests, they discover she has lung cancer.  Gall stone work gets placed firmly on the back burner while they deal with the 7cm mass in her lung.  They can't operate so they treat her as a stage worse than she apparently is.  End results are, there is shrinkage and the cancer is better, but not gone.  She's gone through hell with her treatments and on the other side of this has discovered that not being able to work, and driving two hours each way for treatments 4 or 5 days a week has left them broke, over extended, and unable to feed themselves.  She is depressed and vocally suicidal.  Her gall bladder continues to give her extreme pain and discomfort, and it's unlikely that she'll survive any surgery, but at this point she's willing to risk it.

 Her daughter and youngest son are awol and barely appear to have a peripheral interest.  My family has made the 3 hour journey twice in the past month to take loads of groceries.  It appears also that their church has found out about their hardship and they are providing some charitable provisions as well.  They are now using a food bank for staples and griping that they can't get animal food and butter.  My father in law has quit smoking (I hope it sticks this time) only because they can't afford to buy them.  But if cash were no issue, I no he'd start up again in a heart beat.  My cancer riddled mother in law, who is a senior and living on a pension, is back to work on the only job they have left between them to make sure they keep that extra $400 a month coming in.

I'm the one prodding my husband to call his parents, to go up with provisions, and talking about bringing in the siblings to help cover off some of the bills.  I'm the one trying to spark ideas about perhaps selling their property and buying closer to my family so that I can at least help physically with things that need to be done, and so that she is closer to cancer treatments when she inevitably has to start them back up.  This is all for people who I can barely tolerate.  Why?  Because they are my daughter's grandparents, and because it seemed at one time they were very important to my husband.  Why is it, I seem to be the only one who's concerned?

And the other block is my daughter's block.  She has many in my Jenga tower.  Believe me.  But yesterday, she started to do that thing where she's beginning to branch out.  We moved to this community so that we could be more relaxed about her safety, and so that we'd have more trustworthy neighbours.  We moved to a safer community in general.  On Sunday, while outside playing with my husband, she met some of the kids on our street, and the two of them got familiar with some of our neighbours.  Yesterday afternoon, my daughter chose to hang back and play with a few of her new friends while I walked down to retrieve the mail.  Never out of site, and always supervised by an adult, my nearly 3 year old child started branching out. She had fun, and I was outside of my own body the whole trek to the mailbox and back again, because I wasn't hanging on to a little hand.  I realized, I'm not sure I'm ready to take a side seat in her life.  In fact, I'm not ready at all.  And I have to be.  It's incredible to me how quickly the time passes from dependent on someone else for every single breath to fully raring to go and charge ahead knowing few limits and pushing oneself to the brink of independence the way a 3, 4 and 5 year old child does.

On one hand, I'm proud of the person she is becoming, and I'm overwhelmed by how close the two of us are.  I pray every single day that we keep this bond.  And I know I'm doing things right, because I've already heard on more than one occasion that she "doesn't like me".  That can only mean I've established at least some of the right boundaries.

On the other hand, I'm scared to death of what awaits her, and how her independence can be reckless and haphazard.  I'm so scared of letting go of her hand it paralyzes me, and gives me out of body experiences.

So which block to move and polish then?  I'm not sure either one will leave my tower standing.  I know that moving them will make my tower more fragile - at least in the short term.  I'm leaning on polishing off my child's block a bit, and standing by in observation on the in laws block.  For the life of me, I can't understand why an outsider like myself, is the most concerned part of that whole mess.  It's enough to make me pause and look for other cross impacting factors at the very least.

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