Cancer

Baby Steps Mom and Time. You might know what it’s like to lay… | by Julia Jules King | Jan, 2024

You might know what it’s like to lay there in bed exhausted, but your brain is still on like some mesh of Christmas lights that is going through all eight modes of lighting with yourself trying to shut it off. It’s as frustrating as hitting the “Off” button on the remote several times and nothing happening. The thoughts just stay on and lead down endless rabbit holes which can cause worry, stress, anxiety, and insomnia.

The last few years have been tough for many, and I am no exception. The Reader’s Digest Version is that I went through a divorce after twenty-five years of marriage, then got Stage IV Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, financial stress, then my two adult children became estranged from me (more my son than my daughter), and now I have a rare heart condition that requires open heart surgery. The one thing that keeps from shutting “off” at night though is not my health or finances, but that my children don’t want to spend time with me no matter the circumstances.

I was separated from my ex-husband in my heart two months before physically walking out the door. The writing was on the wall of me not being happy for about five years. I kept thinking things would get better. I do share some of the blame as it does take two to tango. In August 2020 he did something that made me realize the marriage was truly over. I stayed in the house another two months. In those two months I ended up reconnecting with a high school sweetheart whom many thought I would marry after high school. It was on a social media site and he friend requested me. By pure coincidence he too was separated and had never been on social media before. We were in two different states at the time. With both of our children being grown we took a chance on each other and in October 2020 we moved to a whole new state together.

Both my son and daughter have had a challenging time with the divorce and the way I left. They both thought I should be on my own for a while first and then start a relationship. They became distant and were barely speaking to me or texting me. Then a year later in In October 2021 I started getting sick and going downhill a week after my two bottom wisdom teeth were pulled. By January 2022 with many tests and three biopsies I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a long road with me on oxygen 24/7, unable to walk, in and out of the hospital, and a handful of infections. I am blessed to be in remission with just a little cancer left. My now husband stayed by my side and advocated for me the entire time. He didn’t have to. We had been dating for a year when I got sick. We also moved to a state where neither of us had family. During this tough time my son came for a week at the beginning of my diagnosis to visit, and my daughter came out two separate times for three weeks total. They were not comfortable being there but did it to show their support, and I was grateful.

Lying awake many nights listening to the hum of my oxygen concentrator I would worry if my children would ever come around and be comfortable or if I would be around for them to even come around. I’m not perfect, but I tried to be a good mom and be there for my kids. Now with the action of leaving their father the way I did I was estranged from them. We had been so close all these years and, in a blink, it was gone. I struggled with the heartache. My children would text me a little even though I knew they still needed time before they would visit me without feeling obligated due to my illness. My son was now married and seemed to be pulling away more.

“Baby steps mom and time.” This is what my son said to me over and over. Even through all my illness. He wasn’t there for the day to day of my last five years of marriage nor the final straw that made me want to end the marriage. He wasn’t there for the day to day of my cancer and how awful it was. The weakness, the not being able to breath well, or walk, the pain, the infections, the hair loss, the severe weight loss, the loneliness, and the depression. He was in a whole other state, and I felt like I was being punished. I know he was empathetic to my suffering, but I wanted both him and my daughter to want to be around me now just in case it ended. If that was selfish of me, but I didn’t care.

My faith got me through my cancer, and I hoped that my children would see that time is precious, that we shouldn’t waste time. “Baby steps mom and time” again is what I heard from them. When I remarried in October 2023, I had to have a CT one month before our wedding to see if the cancer was still shrinking and not coming back. The CT showed there was just a little over a centimeter on my left lung and the rest was gone. I was thankful. My lungs in the prior CT’s looked like white shredded cotton candy, and you couldn’t really see anything behind it. Now, with this CT it was much clearer. Clear enough to see my heart.

My faith would be tested again. My heart has three aneurysms with one being exceedingly rare. Surgery is eminent. Both our families lived mostly on the West Coast in California and thought there were better surgeons and more support there. After some thought and a wedding in Las Vegas we left Georgia. There was no honeymoon. We left with what we could only fit in our car along with our fur baby and headed west. On the way I stopped in the state my daughter was living in and going to college, but she wasn’t ready to see me yet. I offered to see her alone, and that didn’t make a difference. She still wasn’t comfortable and needed more time. She said she would try to come for my surgery when I found out when it was. I cried and as I lay in my hotel bed trying to cope, my brain going in so many directions. The Christmas lights were beaming in my head.

Time is an asset and though I had been given more, and yet I felt deprived of it when it came to time with my children. My son lived in California and not too far from where my husband and I would be staying. We would stay with a friend till I had my surgery and recovered. I was referred to an excellent surgeon and we got the ball rolling. I had a couple tests that needed to be done before the surgery date and the holidays were right around the corner. March is the goal for surgery. Surely now that I was here and in another health crisis with serious risks my son would want to see me and spend time with me. It had been over three years since my separation, and divorce. A lot of time had passed in my eyes.

I saw my son twice when I got to California in November 2023 for two special occasions. Once for my brother’s birthday brunch without my new husband, and then again on my birthday two weeks before Christmas with my new husband. I thought both had gone well. I’d soon find out days after my birthday that my son felt awkward, obligated, and out of guilt to see me. Was I guilty at times of making him feel guilty for not wanting to see me? I had indeed done this in the past, but not since I had been back to California. In the past I had apologized for how I hurt him and his sister and was sincere. I felt I had taken responsibility for my actions. I had leaned into my church and small group the last couple of years feeling it was helping me grow, learn, and understand. My daughter and I were making some progress and that warmed my heart. Now, five days after my birthday and just a little before Christmas I was getting a text from my son explaining. In the explanation I read those same crushing words I had been told and seen in texts before, “Baby steps mom and time.” I was devastated. I didn’t answer right away. I stayed in bed for almost two days. I cried, I prayed, and I even got angry. It didn’t seem fair. I got a text from him wishing me a Merry Christmas and that he loved me. I responded back with a similar sentiment. Then a little over a week later after tossing and turning many nights, staring at pictures, going over things one too many times it felt like the Christmas lights in my head were tangled, knotted, and shorting out. I reached for my phone and began to text my son. I should have called; I should have had patience. I should have been more understanding. Instead, a back and forth ensued and at the end of all the texts things were worse. What had I done?

I guess I had rehashed the past to now, had a pity party, and again made him feel guilty using my health as a crutch. Now as I sit here at my laptop in the early hours of the morning watching the sunrise, I realize I just need to focus on my health to not make myself worse. I need not lay in bed at night thinking about things that I can’t even do anything about in the middle of the night. That just doesn’t make sense. I’m alive, and my children are healthy. They love me and I love them. I got a self-help book recently and it’s beginning to show it’s worth. I texted my son recently after two weeks of near silence that I loved him. He responded back that he loved me too. I think if I hear or read anymore “Baby steps mom and time” I’m going to remember a quote I read by Confucius. It had a picture of a snail with the quote and said, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop.”

Picture and quote credit to AZ QUOTES


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