Why am I writing about margaritas, guacamole, money and a thunderstorm? Because that is my present. At least, it was 5 hours ago. One of my best friends and I went to a favorite Mexican restaurant Ama Cocina tonight. My daughter came too. She was, as another friend would say, living her best life possible. She was double-dipping those chips, grabbing items out of my taco (she prefers the deconstructed taco) and she was running around the table. I did not approve of her acting like that in a restaurant and I had exhausted all the toys in my bag of tricks so I half jokingly told her I would give her a dollar if she sat still in her seat. It worked. I gave her the dollar which she happily took and said “It’s MY money.” This must be how capitalists are born.
I have never been a person that has been good at being present. I usually like to stress about the future or dwell on the past and constantly wonder what if. I missed out on enjoying a lot of life’s precious moments because of this. But no matter how bad things were, when I looked into the future, it was brighter. Maybe that represented some sort of escapist hope.
When Bryon got sick, I had no choice but to live in the present. I didn’t want to think about the future because when I did, I knew that there was a chance he wouldn’t be there or he would have lasting health problems if he was. I remember stressing out one day because I was concerned that if he recovered, he might never regain his strength and what if he couldn’t storm into a court room? He would be miserable. He was such a strong person, mentally and physically.
During Bryon’s five months in the ICU, I didn’t spend much time looking ahead. There were too many times that he went into shock and too many times where he came close to dying. Obviously my end goal was for him to get out of the ICU, whether it was a step down unit (we were close a couple of times) or directly to rehab and then home. But so much could go wrong and he was so sick that for the first time in my life, I had to live day by day.
I remember feeling so overwhelmed at this new reality. Overnight I had gone from being part of a two person team who took care of a small child to be one person solely responsible for myself, a critically ill husband and a small child. Bryon took care of so much. He made sure the bills got paid and had spreadsheets that organized everything. I knew he scheduled many payments in advance through our bank account but a few weeks into his illness, I finally had to face reality that I needed to figure out which bills had been paid. Everything was now my responsibility. I had to call the bank because I didn’t remember my password. I couldn’t even remember the last time I logged into our bank account. Then I had to figure out all the passwords. I know I reset a bunch of them in the process. I remember telling Bryon that I probably made a mess of the bills but they were paid and if I forgot one, then I am sure that they would find us.
I was overwhelmed. I had no idea how long Bryon was going to be in the hospital. Then there was talk that they would send him to Springfield, MA for rehab which is an hour and a half away and I panicked because I needed to be present to view all of his medical care and there would be no way I could do that and keep my daughter’s life as normal as possible here in Albany. There would be no way I could afford all that gas. But all that panicking was for nothing because Bryon never made it to rehab.
There were so many times during those months where I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I couldn’t work so I wasn’t getting paid. I had no idea how long my present was going to last. And I had no idea what our future was going to look like. I started thinking about what modifications that were going to be needed in our house and our lifestyle. I started looking into specialists in Boston and New York for his conditions. Not just specialists to get him well, but specialists who could manage any long term effects. I started wondering if we should move closer to New York to be closer to better healthcare. Boston would not be an option because Bryon was not admitted in the Massachusetts Bar. The fact that this lifelong Red Sox fan was willing to move so close to the heart of the Evil Empire shows how dedicated I was to Bryon’s care. But I spent a long time planning for a future that would never happen.
I somehow survived those months. My family, friends and even some complete strangers made sure I survived.
Now I am in the future that I couldn’t think about. My best friend in high school had a favorite quote that said “today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.” She had no idea who said it, she saw it on a calendar somewhere. A quick google search 20 years later tells me that Dale Carnegie once said that. Frankly I don’t like thinking about the future because no matter what I envision, Bryon is not there. Yes, I have my daughter but all I see are moments where Bryon should be there. I have no long term plan and no long term goals. I have an idea what I want to do with my life but no clear goals as to how to achieve it. So when I am sad about the present, I can’t escape into the future. I try to escape to the past but lately, the days in the hospital have been on the forefront my mind.
So now I live in the present even if it can be painful at times. I drink a lot of iced coffee and read a lot of books to my daughter. I spend times with my girls and my Albany family and I see my biological family as often as I can. I write. I cook. I run. I read. I travel. And I will continue to do so until the future I dread so much becomes my present.