I pick up the phone to call a friend and ask her for a favor tomorrow. I will myself I won’t cry. Nevermind that she will probably get wind of this entry and find out I was trying not to cry when I talked to her; fuck it, I am just trying to avoid the embarrassing voice-crack that I know I can get when I’m trying to hold it together.
My husband is pretty ill. He grows worse by the hour. He is not so bad off, not yet, but there is no way of knowing how much worse he will get. I haven’t had to worry about someone in my family being seriously ill in a while; I forgot how draining it is on me. Some people thrive and kick ass. I can do it all, but at some point I give into worry and although I walk about doing my thing inside I am a mess, my stomach writhing on itself and forgetting to eat for hours and hours. With Ralph, as with my children, I am also in the position of showing competence and calm and only crying in the kitchen where they can’t see me; holding it together (I am aware my husband can and will read this entry and discover the extent of my worry but when he gets out of being a big floppy puffy-faced dodgy old cripple and can focus his eyes on my blog I will be simply relieved). All of this worry while I do twice as many chores and more laundry and baths for all of them and drive down to get a check from his work and deposit it and take rent to the landlord and give the landlord our list of house repair items and have to discuss every single one of them and head to the pharmacy where the nurse forgot to call in the meds and make a cell call and get her to get the meds to the pharmacist and pack up everything and pick up dinner and head home to cook it and worry about my son who will be sick soon too. Thank Sweet Jesus the child I had with me is as easy as pie and comes home and lays a cool cloth on her Daddy’s head and strokes him and says, “I’m worried about you Daddy” and he starts to cry.
Almost worse than my stressful job of nursemaid is my anger. Anger that was a tiny ember in my chest that would have fizzled out had I only one illness to deal with and the time to recover (instead of three back-to-back stints – and hopefully I myself will not grow ill); anger that would have dissipated and left me clearheadedly assessing those few fickle personalities around me and finding them, if a bit lacking, if a bit insensitive and territorial, earnestly doing their best. Frightened and helpless and watching my mate suffer, my heart hardens and turns away from a few I cannot rely on and I seek those I can.
Perhaps this sad, fierce kernel of anger is only a stymied reaction to my fear, perhaps it will mellow; in any case, by vast majority my family and friends have come to my aid in the ways I have hoped. This evening I am holding the phone and my girlfriend agrees to help me and I feel relief edge into my skin. I call my mother. My husband is ill. I ask her to come help me. A bald request; I know I am disrupting her life. This will be my birthday present; that she will come help me take care of my family. “I have no one else to help me,” I say, and I don’t mean no one to bring meals or talk to or to babysit my children but I mean no one else to allow me to worry and be here to hold and stroke my children and have nothing else to do but care for my loved ones. Even as I seek her out I know what is really happening is the deep existential fear of loss and solitude and in any case, my mother can’t help me with that more than anyone else. But she is one of the strongest women I know and I also know she loves me more than anything else and I want her by my side.