Posted by: christinelaennec | April 11, 2014

Unconditional

A while ago I wrote an update on the Dafter; this will be a wee update on how I’m doing.  Here in Scotland they have a wonderful expression, usually used in the context of asking after someone’s health:  “How are you feeling – in yourself?”  It’s a searching question that points to an experience of reality beyond physical problems, and I like that.

How am I doing, in myself, as the full-time carer of a very unwell teenager, adjusting to life in a new city?  Recently I had the chance for some Reiki and a week later reflexology (courtesy of the marvellous Carers’ Centre here).  Both the practitioners asked me afterwards if I’d recently suffered a bereavement or if I had cardiac problems.  I replied that my ticker is just fine, but that yes, I am recovering from a broken heart.

Christmas cookie decorated by the Dafter.

Christmas cookie decorated by the Dafter.

I’m brokenhearted – at times – over what’s happened to my child, and over having to leave the one place where, since leaving Portland years ago, I really put down roots.  I still feel a bit amputated sometimes, I still miss dear friends very keenly, life can be quite lonely, and I am still very, very tired.  I probably don’t know how tired I actually am.

BUT – things are slowly getting better, and my heart is healing.

For one thing, the Dafter is making progress.  Not as much as I’d hoped by now, but the time-scale doesn’t matter.  She’s been able to leave the house three days a week for three weeks now, and her total time out of bed each day is usually more than two and a half hours.  The bad days aren’t nearly so dreadful as they once were.  She still needs a lot of help, but she isn’t collapsed on the floor crying with exhaustion on a regular basis.  She’s starting to meet other people, including kids her own age at a local youth group.  As much as her illness allows, she’s been building her expertise as a photographer and she recently received her first paid commission!  I’m so very proud of her, and she continues to be an absolute delight.

The Dafter, early April 2014

The Dafter, early April 2014

She made me laugh the other day when she quipped, “You know, you and I should really spend more quality time together.”  We truly enjoy each other’s company and have a good laugh.  As horrendous as this illness has been, our family has been brought even closer by the experience.  I was very struck by her Christmas cookie, with the single word “Unconditional”.  She sometimes says things like, “Looking after me is like looking after a baby!”  Yes, but a fascinating baby who’s able to articulate some amazing thoughts and insights about life.  The feeling of unconditional love is very strong.

I’m also very aware that there are parents out there who would give anything to trade places with me.  I recently met someone whose son committed suicide a few years ago.  I told her of my minister’s advice to enjoy the Dafter during this time, and this woman couldn’t agree more.

Although my caring duties are still pretty full-on, I’ve recently been able to do a few more things for myself.  Michael has been able to work from home more often, so I’ve been able to go for walks and meet people for a coffee.  I have started to make some friends in Glasgow, and having my former neighbour J nearby is a great blessing. Michael is far happier here, as is the Dafter.  “I just LOVE it here!” she often says.

I’ve joined a Community Choir, which has been just the best fun.  It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t require a rock-solid commitment, so that if I weren’t able at the last minute to go to a rehearsal or concert, that would be fine.  Although I miss my friends in Aberdeen, it’s also true that some of my friendships have strengthened and taken on a new form.  And we’ve continued to receive great support from friends all over, including from you my blog friends, with your wonderful comments and good thoughts.  I’m so very grateful for the many kindnesses that have come our way.

I’m happy to tell you that after quite a bit of visiting various churches here (though all Church of Scotland congregations), I think I have probably found the church that I’ll be joining.  I’ll give it a bit more time, but I leave the service feeling fortified in the same way I did after church in Aberdeen.  So I’m starting to recover that weekly time of anchoring and re-orientation, which I had lost for a while.

For those of you who like hymns, I’ve found this one to be very soothing.  It’s started me off on a bit of an a cappella music kick.  (Listening mostly, rather than singing – although the Community Choir did perform a cappella the other day.)

So the pain is subsiding, spring is coming to the garden and the city, and I’m more conscious of the tremendous opportunities there can be here.  I sometimes get frightened about the Dafter’s future, seeing as she’s now missed three years of schooling, but I hold fast to the conviction that she will regain her health, no matter how long it takes.  Our Son recently came for a visit, and he is doing very well, after an inexpressibly awful start in life before we adopted him.  So:  anything is possible!

Knitting continues to be a great solace.  Here is something I recently finished, a present for my friend Catrìona:

Love tea cosy by Martin Storey

Love tea cosy by Martin Storey

I really like the heart design, though the cosy itself isn’t particularly thick.  Perhaps it’s a summer tea cosy?

Love Tea Cosy by Martin Storey

Love Tea Cosy by Martin Storey

Which brings me to a great piece of news:  I’m taking it with me on a trip!  Yes, the woman who has only been absent from her family for three separate nights in the past ten years is going away for four nights in a row.  The Dafter and I have been training Michael in all that needs to be done, and lists have been written out.  Will I just sleep the entire time?  Will I be consumed with guilt?  I don’t think so – the novelty of being able to please myself and only think of my own needs will be quite delicious.

I plan to be as happy as possible, enjoy every minute, and take some photos to show you when I get back.  Have a great weekend, whatever you’re up to!

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Responses

  1. What a very well written and interesting update. Your honesty and optimism are always inspiring and I hope you have a wonderful trip away. Lovely teacosy, too. 🙂

  2. What a wonderful post, so uplifting. I truly hope you have a wonderful trip.

  3. Well, Christine, that all sounds very positive. Since you asked, I’m off to Paris for the weekend with Mr MacD, and the sun is shining. I think I have a lot to look forward to, too!

  4. Brilliant Christine. You need time for you too. It’s tough moving house and starting afresh – even harder I think as we get older. It’s good to hear that the Dafter is doing well too. As you say, the positive side to coping with ME is the closeness that develops between the two of you. Enjoy your break. I’m sure it’s well deserved and the Dafter will have her Father organized in next to no time I’m certain!

  5. I loved reading this post. So many positive and uplifting things! I think the Carers’ Centre is a fantastic idea; I don’t know if there are such things here, typically. And I can imagine that the agony has been real, along with fear and frustration and the like, but I also see the joy in your being able to see blessings in the quotidian, which so many people miss in the ridiculous busy-ness of 21st century life in the “first world.” (Sometimes when my friends and I complain about something that’s really nonessential, we will end it by saying, “Now *that’s* a first-world problem,” which smacks our perspectives back in place!) As someone who is watching your life from the outside, I see the grace of God at work, Christine. And I feel privileged to be included, as a blog reader. Blessings!

  6. You right beautiful things! I understand how difficult this all can become but there is something very courageous about you and your family. There is a lot I would like to say but it’s hard to find the right words in English. I’m really touched by your story. Take care!!

  7. I love this “how are you doing.. in your self” You expressed so well the feelings of a carer. I also feel the same about my church the re-orientation you get each week and the strength to move forward. The Dafter is so beautiful and sweet. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  8. Lovely post, it’s something people say in the north of England too. Congratulations to the Dafter on her commission, and how exciting for you to be going away, enjoy!

  9. I feel uplifted and inspired by reading your post. I loved the hymn…I need thee O I need thee….Dafter is very lucky to have you Christine as a very
    positive influence in her life, not forgetting father. Enjoy your me time and keep posting !

  10. I rarely visit WordPress these days but was delighted to see this at the top of my reading list. I’m so happy to hear that your daughter is progressing (if albeit slowly) and even more delighted to read that you’re taking a few days break. I hope that you have a wonderful time and a well earned rest.

  11. Ps love the tea cosy too.

  12. Such a wonderfully positive post! I’m so glad the Dafter is doing better.

    I have been caring for my daughter and grandson as my daughter has had health problems for quite awhile. She too is doing so much better now.

    Enjoy your ‘me’ time! I’m sure you will!! 🙂

  13. Always impressed by your ability to grasp hold of so many tiny glimmers of light.

    Praying that your time away will be everything that you need it to be. Take care of you! xo

  14. {{HUG}} Enjoy your “me” time x
    Barbara

  15. How are you doing . . . in yourself? Such an interesting question and you gave such a thoughful answer which can be hard to do. May your time alone be healing for you and bring you peace.

  16. Having met you in person (‘in yourself’), I would say that you are amazingly steadfast. I hope you have the best possible trip.

  17. I am so, so happy for you, Christine – so much good news in this post. You continue to inspire me.

    Have a great trip and I can’t wait to read all about it! xo

  18. Lovely, heartfelt post. Congratulations to the Dafter on her photo commission!
    Enjoy your time away.:-)
    Love the tea cosy ~ I’ll see if you posted info of it on Ravelry.

  19. so lovely to hear from you and how you are doing. very happy for you that you are off on a holiday; I hope it is restful and yet also a bit of an adventure. you have a wonderful way with words and I really enjoyed reading your post. lovely also to see your dear daughter out with her camera and I love your tea cosy.

  20. It’s great to see you having some time alone, determined to think only of yourself. How mysterious! What an adventure!! I’m sure it will be worth all the hours you’ve had to put in . . . . training Michael to be “Christine” for a while.

  21. Have a marvelous time!

    Christine, you are such an encourager! The story of your son sheds light on so many difficult situations. Truly, anything is possible.

  22. I was so happy to read this. There are so many answers to prayer here! I’m so glad you’ve found a church home! So glad you are in the choir! So glad that you are planning another trip!!! What blessings!! I know life still isn’t perfect –of course it’s not. 🙂 But everyone has made so much progress in these recent months toward being able to enjoy life more and to settle in your new home.

  23. Such a touching post, Christine. I can’t imagine the journey you have been on, but your words have conveyed the love and dedication you have as a Mother, and the hope and faith you continue to hold for your dear daughter. Throughout this difficult road, you have remained positive and supportive to your family, despite the exhaustion and worry. You are truly an inspiration. It is so good to hear about the small successes as your daughter moves forward,and the big success of landing her first photography commission! Good for her! I love the sweet expression of asking after someone there in Scotland, and the tea cozy is very charming. Enjoy every minute of your special little holiday. xo Karen

  24. […] felt a little bit like Christine must have when she went on a few days holiday and had to make detailed arrangements to ensure that […]


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