Sunday, March 01, 2015

I am not twenty anymore

I went out to a goth night at a club last night, for the first time in eight years. It was a lot of fun, and very much like stepping into a time machine and travelling back to 2005.

This is not me
I am sore today. Also very tired. I am used to going to bed about ten, maybe ten-thirty. Anyway, it was like a time machine because everyone else there was also over thirty, and the music was pretty much EXACTLY the same as what we danced to ten years ago, give or take. Although I don't remember anyone ever dancing un-ironically to Marilyn Manson, to be honest. I did the Chicken Dance to Depeche Mode because, hey, it lends itself to the Chicken Dance.

I used to go goth clubbing a lot. Goth clubs are full of people in extreme outfits thrashing around violently to very loud music. This beats the vanishingly small number of normal clubs I've been to hollow, because in the normal clubs I've been to, everyone clutches a drink and bobs slowly up and down. I like thrashing around. And I like low cover, no one getting irritatingly close, perfectly fine to go and buy one drink and then dance for hours places. And if you wear earplugs you don't even go deaf, which is a big bonus.

Friday, February 27, 2015

New every morning

I woke up all prepare to be depressed, because it's four weeks exactly since Mum's death, but I have just found the envelope with some chainmail links I ordered sitting on the table. So today I have a beautiful project to do, making necklaces for some friends, and I can happily ignore my children while I work. Assuming they'll let me work. This is a big assumption.

Geoff gets to go on an exciting Costco run this morning, and if I cheer up enough and also am ready emotionally to brave the -20C misery outside I might take the children to the indoor playground, even though it's bloody awful outside and there would be two different buses plus me, a double stroller, and four children.

I'm looking forward with fear and hope to the day when the girls can walk on their own feet. The problem is less that I think they can't walk, because they're really good at walking and at running away briskly, it's that I have a lot of trouble with having to run after two three year olds. In my experience, three year olds specialize in running away. And if there are two of them, they can run in opposite directions, probably towards traffic. This has caused me to keep them in the stroller even though they're getting a little too big for it.

Probably I should do something depressing like take them on their own trips out and practice walking without running away. Bah.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Museum again


Geoff and I took all the kids to the Royal Ontario Museum again today. And we just upgraded our membership so now we can bring up to six children and four adults. Perfect. The museum is one of my happy places.
Little tiny stroller Dalek

We had a whole quartet of Daleks

Elevator dancing


We headed to the Africa and South America exhibit first, because if we do the history first we're likely to actually do it. If we start in Natural History we never leave. The children were very impatient but I was relentlessly educational, and kept telling them about the artifacts and the countries they were from. I got a tiny bit of interest about the shrunken head, which, I pointed out, was an actual head, shrunken, but aside from that they were fractious and demanding.

Elephant ivory carving

Beadwork from Africa. Can't remember the country


I really liked this Mexican loom. I want to find someone to come over and work on weaving with me. Although that will probably mean a lot of me screaming. It's still fascinating.

Fun Mexican outfit. I like the hat

Elizabeth and Mesopotamian panel
We all tried to remember the words to the They Might Be Giants song, but we couldn't get all of them. I hope knowing "Sargon! Hammurabi! Ashurbanipal and Gilgamesh!", having those words etched into their psyches, will be deeply helpful to them somehow. Probably not.

Persian horse tack

Model Indian temples in gilt and silver

Nat is unimpressed with Persia
We headed out to Ancient Egypt after the kids were clearly on the edge of a breakdown from boredom, and found a couple of volunteers with artifacts we could handle and look at. They told us about the making of papyrus, and had actual papyrus, both the paper and the plant. And decorative scarabs covered in hieroglyphics. So very cool. And I got to hold and look at a shard of pottery that was five thousand years old.


We eventually let the kids go play in the kids' section, and also visited the dinosaurs and had lunch and played with some other children. It was a very good visit. We only had to chase Miriam and bring her back four or five times, 



Me, Mim, and a painted buffalo hide
We left when a thousand school groups flooded in and it got really busy. The ideal time to visit the ROM is on a weekday morning. If you can be there at ten, when it opens, it's perfect. No one there. Solitude and ancient artifacts- doesn't get better that that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Strangely defeated

Whenever I open the fridge I see vats and vats of delicious food, waiting for me to prepare it or, in some instances, just for me to heat it up. And it all feels like much too much work and I slam the fridge door and go make tea and dream of takeout. But takeout is STUPID because we have so much food. I just don't have any energy.

Still. It's Lent, and I am going to recover, and we are going to eat all the food in the fridge and pantry for a week or until everything is gone, and I don't have this very ridiculous non-problem any more. I keep thinking of the Syrian refugees and feeling intensely guilty. And because of this we will eat all the marvelous food in the fridge, and I will fight acedia (but not Acedia, my stuffed sloth, because I love her) and soldier on in the really silly-seeming task, which I have just decided is representative of re-engaging with life.

Well, the cornbread was a hit

Especially because I let them put maple syrup on it. And Thomas kept eating the chunks of butter off the top and then coming up to me sadly and saying, "Mommy, there's no butter on mine. It doesn't taste good without butter." I mean, relative hit, because Miriam didn't touch the cornbread, but she ate a tiny bit of stew. So that was acceptable.

I think I'm going to counter the extreme anti-Native bent in the Little House today by reading The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and looking up some videos on Native legends and things. Also that may be my small way of countering the Spider-Man worship that's been pervading my house.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Life rambling

I'm still feeling really tired all the time, and Geoff is feeling a re-occurrence of his nerve damage symptoms from two years ago, but we're pushing on, very whinely and slowly. I have brought over a stack of my mother's Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswicks journals from my parents' house, and I am reading them, especially The Summer of the Great Grandmother, which is about L'Engle caring for her mother in the summer her mum declined sharply and then died. I haven't read these journals since I was a teenager, and as I re-read them after many years I am struck by how blessed I was to have them to guide me, and how deeply I have been formed by her writing. She was my window into thoughtful Christianity and I am so grateful.

We are still muddling along trying to get things set up with the estate and I'm pretending I know how to be executor, and I am also trying to occasionally read to my children, and make them do tiny amount of phonics and math. I still basically just feel like lying around. I am filled with a deep lethargy which has moved into the place of the tense misery and grief surrounding my mother's last weeks and then the planning for her funeral. I'm not grieving a lot, but as I read Great Grandmother I wonder if the mental and physical fog is part of my grief, and something I'm going to have to be patient with and wait through. Because of the lingering effects of the influenza I still don't really want to eat most of the time.

I suck at waiting. I am very impatient. Waiting to be better, better in some way, seems to be the Lenten discipline God has decided I need.

We're still knee-deep in snow, and it's been very, very cold here on and off for several weeks. We're trying not to die of cabin fever, on top of everything, and the children are vastly enjoying our recent kowtowing to the power of Netflix. They are all in love with Spider-Man, particularly.

We're about to have dinner, which will be a the leftovers of a beautiful beef stew I made, and which I predict no one will eat. Well, I'll eat it. And we're having cornbread in order to shove some calories into the children. And when they've all gone to bed I will have a glass of wine and un-Lenten leftover chocolate cake and lie around and wait to feel a lot better, which I will, because chocolate cake has miraculous curative powers.

Friday, February 20, 2015

My baby has gotten enormous

Something happened. Sometime in the last few weeks Nathaniel really, completely abandoned little-kid status, and has become a Big Kid. His hands are, not making this up, almost as big as mine. He can read and write and explain concepts to his siblings, and he can be trusted to do tasks unseen, and to run and fetch and carry for us. He understands, a lot of the time, anyway, when we explain things logically to him.

It's so weird. I can say, for instance at dinner tonight, "I need the table cleared off and moved." and Nat and Thomas will get up and go and clear off and move the table, Nat especially. I can say, "The girls need some juice. Please get them some.", and Nathaniel will get up and do it. It's like magic. It's amazing. And it's also a little bit sad, because he is so very old and grown up now that he's not even a bit of the roly-poly cuddly toddler. He's a small (not really small)  reasoning talking walking task-completing child who can perfectly well read a menu or tell you how many halves of something it takes to make two.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three weeks tomorrow

One of my Lenten resolutions is to keep trying to work through, and to write about, what my mother's illness and death and the time after have been for me. For us all, including Elizabeth, who has taken to pinning me down several time a day to ask, "You mum died? She died? You sad, Mama? You sad about you mum died?". It's so difficult to escape conversation with a three-year-old. It's lovely that she knows and is concerned, but the persistence of three-year-old conversation is like going though a minor inquisition.

The girls and I are still all recovering from influenza, and I am fighting the weariness and lack of interest in food and short-tempered-ness that comes after illness. It's made worse by occasional stabs of grief. I was just holding my phone before going to bed, and remembering that a very short time ago I slept and ate and lived my whole life with my phone on, charged, and near, waiting to hear if something had gone wrong- at the nursing home, and then at the hospital, and then, much more intensely, at the hospital, as we waited, and knew we were waiting, for Mum's death.

I've spent today feeling dizzy. I don't know if it's from memories or from being sick.

I am remembering now, more intensely, with more perspective, what it was like to be at the hospital, faking confidence, sitting with Mum, listening to the doctors and nurses bustling around. Using the hand sanitizer on the way into and out of every room, always. Gradually becoming aware that probably Mum couldn't eat or drink anymore, that it wasn't just lack of care at the nursing home, but that she was unable to take anything in by mouth. Being appalled to find out she had had food in her mouth for more than twenty-four hours, and her agitation was because of the discomfort.

Beginning to agonize about whether or not we would put in a feeding tube. We talked to friends, I read the articles on the Catholic Bioethics site, we talked about extraordinary care versus ordinary care. Some moments I thought that definitely food and water were ordinary, necessary- my God, how can you deny someone food and water?- and other moments I would see the words about the body rejecting food and water in preparation for death, and about the prolongation of dying. And I read about infection, and aspiration of food through a tube, and that sometimes demented patients require arm restraints and medication to permit tube feeding, and then we had the results of the swallow test. She couldn't. She couldn't swallow.

And I talked to Dad, and told him the pros and cons, and he listened, and thought, and said, "She wants to die." And I nodded, and said, "We'll do palliative, then. She'll be given pain meds, and the doctor says it takes seven to ten days."

And we made the decision, and the next day when we arrived back at the hospital Mum was on oxygen but was fighting it, taking the mask off, fighting the nurses, and I thought of putting a feeding tube back in over and over, or of sedating her to give her another month or two of life, and I thought, This is the right decision. We've made the right decision.


It took her nine days to die. She was mostly comatose after a day or two, and she was constantly on morphine, although after she was moved to palliative a nurse came in and I asked what the noise Mum had been making was, and the nurse looked at me sympathetically and said, "She's moaning. I'll get her more hydromorph". And I was appalled that my mother was lying there in pain and unable to express it.

I think we made the right decision. I know we did, but what gives me nightmares, frightens me when I'm alone, and breaks my heart is that I'll never know whether that was what she wanted. All through her illness I had to make decisions for her, I had to help and guide, and sometimes she fought me and I lost, when she could no longer reason. And I wanted, always, to be able to explain. To be able to tell my smart, wise, tactful mother why. Why things were happening to her, why I was making the decisions I was. I wanted to be able to cross that horrible gap between us that her illness had made, and I wanted my mother to tell me that she loved and trusted me, and that she understood.