I love approaching Missoula as a tourist every now and then. I appreciate the laid-back vibe, the proximity to wilderness, all the freaks at the market. Wendy and Piper have come enough times now that we have certain things that we love to do -- carousel, parks, Farmer's market. One of the highlights is when Wendy and I get to go out to dinner and Jeff hangs with the cousins. I shot this view of the sunset as we headed to dinner the other night. I'm really into sunsets right now.
Just as we got into the swing of things, Jeff had to hop on a plane headed east. He was bound for New Jersey to get his dad from a memory care facility there and bring him here where he would reside in a similar home. It was an extremely intense visit for him. Not only did he have to face his dad's decline head on, he had to then take two planes across the country with a man who is no condition to fly. My heart swells with love when I think of what he's been through this week - how clear and positive he was when he finalized his plan to go get Mort, how he stepped out of the car after finally making it home and fell into our arms, tears in his eyes and exclaimed, that was the hardest thing I've ever done.
So my story is all over the place. Somewhere between Jeff returning and Wendy and Piper leaving, another major shift occurred. My dear Hilary, far and away the closest person to me in my life pretty much, ever, went into labor. We talked a few times as things slowly kicked into gear. She was at Eliana's birth, so she had some first time experience with what birth can look like. I pictured her walking in her little neighborhood, moving through contractions comparing our situations as I'm apt to do. Imagined her up all night in the wild, hormonal haze of pre-birth. That time when your body knows something is about to go down. Something huge. It's such a surrender this whole birth/mama thing. It all seems about surrender these days. Surrender to the baby as she moves through your body. Surrender through the haze as your father-in-law slips deeper into a state of unknowing.
I knew that I would be in Montana when Hilary gave birth. What I didn't know know was how hard it would be for me to be so far from her while it was going down. And it was sort of a sandwich effect. The combination of Jeff unexpectedly leaving coupled with my big sister and niece having to head home after too short of a visit left me feeling pretty dang alone and far, far, far from the people who know me the best. As Hilary's very long labor carried on, I fell deeper into my far away pity party. Everything was shifting all at once. At one point I found myself listening to Brandon's tunes, loosing myself in the intensity that is the life-death trajectory. I was filled with anxiety about my sister, about Mort, about Jeff, about everyone making it out okay. I watched my children play their favorite games, naked with the hose in the yard, filling up the cooler with water and leaves to make potions and baths. They seemed to exist in a different dimension, the absolute present, wholly free from the cloudy place that I was in. Thank goodness for the children. They always bring me back.
I picked myself up, plopped them in the stroller and we headed out the door. I needed to go away from the phone, the stereo, the technology that was holding me in this weird place. We hoofed it through the neighborhood, bought popsicles at the store, chatted. When we got home our buddy Josh was there to hang, to listen, to jump in. Eventually the sun had set and the children were settled.
And then the text came in. Mazzy Rell is here! it read. And all that angst and anxiety and weirdness moved again. Tears came. And with tears, relief. I was too tired to write it all down. Just wanted to lay down and feel the peace that comes from knowing everything is going to be okay.
Other than that, most things are pretty different. He lives in a nice, little home with other older folks who struggle from dementia. When we are there, Soli likes to play with their walkers. Generally they don't seem to notice. Except for the time when Jeff forgot Sol's pants and one lovely old woman pointed her shaking finger in the direction of his bum, her eyes asking, where the hell are his pants?
Oh Pop Pop. Your situation is it's own post, it's own poem, loads and loads of them. For now, let's just say that he seems to be in a good place. And he's close by. And this helps my dear husband feel better about his dad's state.
I just like to look at his eyes. The eyes have it all. For a moment the same spark, the same sarcastic, devilish look is in Mort's eyes.
And within minutes, it's gone. His eyes flutter closed or float back to the TV set. And then he's back. And so it goes.
I'm having trouble wrapping this baby up but I"m ready to leave the computer and get on with my summer Saturday. My girl is done with her drawing, my man is back from his bike ride, my boy is playing dinos, waiting to be rescued from behind his closed door. I'm settling into this new state. This new plan of old and new.