I've been quiet here on the blog for a month now and thought I should write a quick post ... not that I imagine anyone is out there waiting with baited breath!
This has been a really challenging month for me personally. On Thanksgiving my beloved Grandma had a stroke. Initially we believed she would be able to recover but after about five days in the hospital the family decided it was time to move her to Hospice. Her last night in the hospital I received news that she was not doing well and in a flurry I packed bags and food, planning to stay at my Aunt's house and not knowing how long we would be gone. I feel extremely lucky that I live nearby and was able to spend an entire week with my Grandma at the end of her life.
The week was full of intense emotions: gratitude and sadness being the most prominent. In many ways it was a wonderful week and I got to spend lots of time just holding my Grandma's hand and telling her how much I loved her. I got to revisit favorite memories with her and tell her what an incredible influence she had had on my life. I got to sing her the lullaby that I learned from my Grandpa and my mother and on her last night our family surrounded her, singing Silent Night, as she took her last breath. Death is a terribly sad event, of course, but my Grandma showed me that it can also be full of peace and grace.
The week was also extremely challenging for me as a mother. Ellie is nearing two and a half and is very, very needy, especially of her mother. The week necessitated breaking Ellie's reliance on Ian and I for everything, and my dad heroically stepped in and took care of her, even putting her to bed at night, so my mom and I could be with my Grandma. Finding a way of involving Ellie in the Hospice experience was challenging to say the least and I couldn't have done it with out the help of my parents and my aunts, uncles and cousins. One of my aunts helped Ellie find a way to connect with my Grandma when she suggested Ellie rub lotion into Grandma's hands. Such a simple act, but it created profoundly beautiful moments where a young child was able to truly care for her Great Grandmother. Ellie also created great memories when she sang Christmas carols for Great Grandma.
Managing our diet was nearly impossible as my focus shifted away from food for the first time in a long time. I had forgotten to pack our Vitamix in the mad dash and so we were without our morning green smoothies, which have become an institution. I slapped food together to the best of my ability and gave myself permission for Ellie's food and my own to not be perfect. And, naturally, as a result, she started waking up in the night with tummy aches. I didn't know how to fix it, and I had to forgive myself and move on. (It was only when we returned home that I discovered that the non-organic Treetop applesauce I had been feeding her was likely the culprit. I still have no idea why ... pesticides ... hidden sugar? Who knows.)
Dealing with the emotions at Hospice was challenging, and I felt especially frustrated by the community kitchen, where families brought in treats to share. Where some people might have seen cookies, brownies, doughnuts, cakes and candies, I saw a rotating display of gluten, sugar, dairy and eggs. All the comfort foods of my past sat there taunting me. I didn't give in to those, but did give myself a little leeway at times, like having some corn chips one night and some salad dressing that included sugar another. Every time I could feel the impact and wished I hadn't even gone there. After we got home I enthusiastically returned to our diet and was so happy to start the day with green smoothies and fuel myself with meat and veggies.
The weeks since then have been hard as well. Ellie contracted Hand Food and Mouth disease and was ill for a week. I saw a new doctor and learned that I likely have Hashimoto's disease. I will have more bloodwork done in January and I'm sure will write more about that later. And this past weekend was the Rosary and funeral for my Grandma.
So it's been a month of challenges. I look forward to a quiet Christmas at home, followed by a weeklong vacation with my family. I am in need of some serious rest and recuperation.