Solstice and Solace

This has been the most stressful of holidays. There has seemingly been no time for anything. There has been the stress of the state of the world and economy, both generally and personally. There is the stress of Christmas falling in the middle of the week and working in an industry that doesn’t pause for mere holidays. I will be working Christmas day and every other day this week. It leaves little time to find that ‘warm fuzzy’ as we gather around the tree. There is also the stress of the unknown and new, or temporary, traditions. We will not be in our ancestral home with my mom and step-dad. That house went undecorated for Christmas for the first time in my lifetime. It will sit idle and empty on Christmas day for the first time ever.

All these are small and insignificant stressors when compared to the overarching concern for my step-dad. Friday, I spent several hours going over paperwork and signing forms to move him into hospice care. We found a wonderful location for him, brand new and less than a mile from my house and not much farther from my mom’s. It is set up like a home and they specialize in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It could not be a better situation. Nevertheless, signing the paperwork was emotionally draining. Sitting down and discussing the meaning of hospice, that the care is comfort not curative, touches a raw nerve no matter how much you know and understand that it is exactly what is needed. The responsibility of signing the paperwork weighed on me as they informed me of possibly additional fees in the future that had not been previously discussed at all. I stopped. My step-dad was about an hour away from being there. I called my insurance agent. Thank god I’ve known her and worked with her for half my life. She assured me several times before I would sign. It is such an unbelievable game. You have to know the right person to get the wheels moving. You have to work at a company that provides insurance. You have to fight them every step of the way. If you don’t have insurance or your insurance won’t pay for care I simply do not understand how anyone could do it, although I know they do.

Shortly after I finished signing, my mom and nephew came in, followed shortly by my step-dad in the ambulance. He did well upon arrival. He was tired but was so relieved to be in pajamas instead of a hospital gown, to be in a room that looked like a room, to not be hooked up to monitors. He had family and friends in and out all evening, setting up his room and making him feel at home. He did well Saturday, sitting in the living room and watching TV in a recliner. He seems happier, although yesterday was not his best day. It is a relief to have found a place for him after looking at several. To have it so close where we can be there more and at a moment’s notice is comforting.

Yesterday, working around the house, I couldn’t stop crying. I was crying over minor things that mean so little in the grand scheme, but really it was just a release. There has been so much tension, so much stress I just had to let it out. I just couldn’t stop. I cried through making out dinner for Solstice. Last year I decided that we needed a day where just the family could celebrate, just husband, our boy and me. Just a moment over dinner to say goodbye to the past and hello to the new as the sun reaches the furthest angle. We light the Yule log and have a nice dinner with a “Sun” cake for dessert (just a cake decorated with a sun). The brief moment meant a lot to me, as silly as maybe it seems.

Last night was our company Christmas party. I just couldn’t bring myself to go. I stayed home and tried to finish up wrapping gifts. I feel like I am getting closer to being ready and then a commercial comes on to remind me that Christmas is on Thursday and I panic. Maybe next year I will plan better.


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