Making time to write


Some days go well; some days just don’t. When snow began to fall at dusk last night, bringing a rare bit of moisture to our parched high-desert valley, I was sure today would be one of the good ones. Lichenboulder

(The photo above is the snow on nubbly granite boulder in our front yard with its a beautiful mosaic of lichens.)

I figured last night’s snow was a good omen, and maybe it was for someone, but not for our household. After an exhausting week away, a week that involved shepherding my mom through her graceful death at home and getting my dad set up to continue life on his own, I had counted on getting back to my writing today.

Writing is my way of nurturing myself. When I can get quiet and focus on finding the pattern in words and sentences and narratives, I can also hear what my own inner voice has to say. So by “listening to” my writing, I am listening to myself. Writing gives me the time and space to hear what’s going on inside me, to sort through and process the events, emotions, experiences, and concerns of my days. Right now, there’s a whole lot of unsorted stuff inside me, and that means my mental and emotional balance isn’t so good.

Which is part of why today went so badly. Richard’s sick, so sick that he’s been slow and confused–like he was right after his last brain surgery–and thus has needed a lot of extra tending. He held up until last Thursday, when my Mom died, and then the sinus infection that he had been keeping at bay pretty much knocked him over. I managed to bundle him into the car on Friday, but it was a serious toss-up whether I should take him to the VA Hospital to be looked at, or drive him home and try for some real rest. I came down on the side of home and rest, and I still think that was the right decision, but his recovery has been halting, and I’ve been pretty worried.

He seemed better this morning, so when I headed to my office for what I hoped would be a morning’s work on my current writing project, I felt good. Then Richard kept interrupting me, and I finally lost my patience and temper. (My hair may be going silver, but I still have a redhead’s fire.) We ended up spending several hours sorting things out.

Over a late lunch, we decided Richard needed to talk to the Nurse Practitioner in neurosurgery at the VA Hospital in Denver. He called Fran, and after he described his confusion and the headache that’s plagued him since Thursday, and I filled in the background, she suggested that his brain was likely suffering from the swelling of a sinus infection, made worse by last week’s stress. (Whew! I had envisioned the worst, as you can imagine.)

Fran sent him to our local VA telemedicine clinic. The nurse there read Fran’s note in Richard’s files, looked him over, checked his vitals (all good), and verified that he definitely does have a sinus infection. We went home with a promise to call her if he doesn’t continue to improve.

And there went the day. No writing, except for this blog post.

That, however, was enough to gift me with two critical realizations: First, I’ve been in caregiver mode for a long time now, for Richard and then Mom; it’s not easy to switch back to caring for me. Second, I know what I need to do to take care of me. Write.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just make time to write… Like “Just say no!”–which is not so easy at all.

Today I didn’t succeed. Tomorrow, bolstered by my renewed understanding and with Richard’s help, I will.