1980 was probably the peak of my adult life, although I didn't know it then. I was healthy, very happily married, in my dream job, and the future looked bright. As the '80's progressed bad things happened. My mother died of breast cancer in 1981 and I felt numb with pain for about a year. She was 74. A few years later I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and began the dance with pain. At the same time I did my right knee and had the first arthroscopic surgeries. Shortly there after, I was diagnosed with kerataconus and started the routine of eye exams and new contacts every six months or so until I had both corneas replaced in 1989/90. During the end of the '80's, my marriage fell apart as my husband was away on business more and more, and I was more consumed by moving up the food chain at work.
Enter a brief interlude when I met the Bear, shed my old life, and ran away to Australia. Bliss, aside from financial pinches until I reentered the workforce determined to be a drone. Then fibromyalgia struck me with its fairy wand and I knew serious pain, daily pain, pain that ruled my life. I really missed my friends back in the US because I had so few friends of my own age and background here. I cannot fault the dear friends I made working at the Library and they have helped me survive a lot, but I'm old enough to be their mothers. I lost one of my US friends who shared chronic illness in the early 2000's and it hit me very hard. She was one of the inner circle and losing her was a blow that took a long while to recover from. Then there was the Bear. You blog-readers know what I went through 3 years ago and I haven't recovered yet. Then there was my sister this year. On the visit to the US for her memorial service I made sure I made time to see BFLB in Ohio, who has been suffering from kidney cancer for 10 years. I never dreamt it would be the last time I saw her, probably the last time I will speak to her. In the past 2 weeks the cancer has caught up to her and the doctors have run out of miracle treatments (and she had her share of whiz-bang medical technology used on her). As of today she is in a hospice and is unresponsive. BFLB is also one of the inner circle, the one who was my knitting guru, the one who managed the dream of building a house in the country on a nice block of land. Her husband, St. H., was a good friend to the Bear and the four of us enjoyed our visits together. Now I worry for St. H. because he has to go through the deepest valley of losing your true love. He's known this day would come for 10 years but I don't think that makes it any easier then it was for me who only really knew what was happening the last 2 weeks of the Bear's life.
I feel like this has been cumulative and I don't know how to handle any more grief. But I also know that being of a certain age means you know more people who are likely to leave this plane in the coming years. I'm not a religious person so I have no firmly held beliefs as to what lies after death. Their spirits all live on with those who loved them; maybe that's what life after death means. But we who are left behind feel an awful hole in our souls where that bit that was bound to them leaves with them. I will always love those people listed above and still think about my mother almost daily. I still wake up thinking the Bear is still here. Think of your loved ones and cherish those still with you.
On my own personal battle, my surgeon has instituted 2 weeks complete rest for the knee, trying to let it heal. I hesitate to speak too loudly but after 4 days, it is less painful and slightly less swollen. I sincerely hope this most annoying restriction works, because I am going mad being kept away from my garden at the peak of its neediness.