November 10, 2000
There is not much new to report this week. Timmi continues to sleep alot of the time and to feel very weak when awake. At the suggestion of her doctor, we have been trying to find things that she can eat, with a view to reducing and eventually replacing the TPN (liquid nutrition) that she gets intravenously, but with limited success. Usually eating makes her feel awful, so though she tries, there is only so much she can make herself eat.
We did find a lovely woman to be with Timmi twice a week, a very warm person with whom Timmi feels quite comfortable. So now I am able to schedule work days with much more confidence, which makes a huge psychological and moderate financial difference to me.
November 17, 2000
The past week has been pretty much the same as previous ones, with Timmi feeling very weak and spending the greater part of her time sleeping or in bed, and not able to get around much without the help of a wheelchair. An exception was Tuesday, when after the hospital we went to a restaurant, where Timmi actually ate a small amount of food, enjoyed it and did not feel horrible afterwards. We then saw a movie together ("Chicken Run"). When we came home she stayed up with the rest of us and we had a nice family evening. Yesterday she reverted to the previous pattern, and today was worse. Still, days like Tuesday keep me going.
I would like to add that there is no need to worry if an update does not come before Shabbat on any particular week. It does not mean that something terrible has happened, just - most likely - that I was very busy and/or tired that Thursday and Friday, and that there was little new to report.
November 24, 2000
Another week much the same as the last. Up days, down days, on days, off days. So far, though, Timora had two "good" days this week – Monday and Wednesday - during which she was awake for most of the day, and had the strength to participate to some degree in life. Yesterday (Wednesday) was particularly good - she spent the morning and noon hours enjoying the company of her companion, who seems even nicer the more we get to know her. We even got out to take care of her business at the bank. Earlier this week she also got to the Education Ministry with Daniel and registered for the Winter term matriculation exam in Civics, and when she has the strength is studying for the exam. After each of the good days, though, Timora has so far always had a particularly sleepy and weak day.
I myself have been sick the last few days (some kind of virus), and again had some insight into what life is like for Timora. If I get so frustrated by a couple of days of inability to get anything done or even concentrate on reading, how must it feel for her, who every day has to contend with some degree - sometimes an extreme degree - of physical weakness, and at least some - sometimes a lot of - pain, not to speak of imbalances that effect her mood and her ability to cope! It is impossible to always be in touch with this feeling in such a deep way, though - if I were, I would be unable to function. So as always, as I get better I will have to return to tempering my empathy with a certain dose of repression.
Shabbat Shalom to all.
December 1, 2005
Have you ever noticed that when you ask a mother how she is, nine times out of ten she’ll answer by telling you how her children are doing? While Timmi was ill, of course, my world naturally revolved around her and caring for her. When things were going relatively well for her, I was happy; when things were hard for her, they were hard for me. My identification with Timmi reached a point where I experienced my own (minor) illnesses by comparing them to hers. But even now, after Timmi is gone, I find that my emotional highs and lows correspond to a very impressive degree with the ups and downs of my children’s lives, and with how much “quality time” I get to spend with them.
This past week, for example, has been a very good one for me. This is partly because my field internship is going so well, as I'm fulfilling a dream at least fifteen years long and learning to become a psychotherapist. (One of the advantages of being 50 years old is that today I know just what I want to do, what I like doing and what I'm good at doing.) The course is interesting, I’ve started to see clients and I’m getting very helpful feedback from my supervisor. But if you asked me what was the high point of my day on Monday, for example, I wouldn’t answer that I'd had an excellent interview with a client, or that I'd finished the writing I needed to do for my studies – although both gave me a deep sense of satisfaction. No, the best part of Monday was going to see a movie (“Corpse Bride”) with Elaine and Danny – even though the movie was pretty silly – and then sitting and eating dessert with them at the mall’s fast food court – even though as a general rule I detest both fast food and malls. Just being with the kids was enough.
Another high point this week was Friday evening, when Sheila came to Shabbat dinner with the young man she’s seeing (whose name, unbelievably enough, is Tim). Tim, like our other adult daughters’ partners, fits right into our family, and we all feel very comfortable with one another. So we spent the evening talking and laughing, discussing a wide range of serious and not-so-serious subjects. The happy presence of so many of my children – and the reminder that all of my adult children are now, blessedly, involved in serious relationships with lovely partners – filled me with so much joy that I completely forgot how tired I was after working very hard at my fieldwork and in my home all week.
One of the many advantages of having a large number of children is that there's always at least one whose life is going well. When I’m feeling low, whether because I’m worried about one (or more) of my children or for any other reason, I can always remember that there's someone in the family for whom life is good at that moment. This thought gives me an instant lift – almost like popping a pill, but with no side effects. And that lift becomes a real high when we also spend happy time together. (Interesting thought – am I addicted to my children?).
There’s a downside to my supersensitivity to my children’s emotional state – especially, of course, to their pain. I still find it hard sometimes to distinguish between their troubles and mine, and must struggle not to identify with them so closely that I make their pain my own. Not only does this kind of over-identification make me less able to help with my children's problems, but it is not healthy in any relationship, particularly between a parent and a child. Though I’ve gotten better at respecting this kind of boundary between myself and my family, it will probably remain an issue for me for the rest of my life.
Still and all, when life seems overwhelming – and life really can sometimes feel like nothing but a series of painful losses – it’s days sharing love and fun with my children, as I did with Timmi that Tuesday five years ago and as I continue to do with the others whenever I possibly can, that keep me going.