Monday, November 25, 2013

Where Are You Christmas?

Over the past few days this song has played again and again in my head. I just can't seem to find my Christmas this year. I see everyone decorating and I am just not feeling it. Then I realized it's been years since we've had a real Christmas and where I felt my holiday spirit. 

2009, that was the last real Christmas we had together. That was the last Christmas that we were all together and thrilled at just the idea of Santa and reading the story of Christmas together. I pulled out all three of my trees and we put up lights out around the house. The girls and I made cookies and shared them with our friends. We mailed off care packages, sang carols and just really made the holidays fun.

2010 had us separated half a world apart with Chaz in Afghanistan. That pretty much speaks for itself. The girls and I still had fun, but we really missed Daddy.

2011 and 2012 were both controlled by the Army's WTB. We were told when we could go and when we had to be back. We really never were able to enjoy any of the holiday season in those 24 months.I will admit we really just gave up, sucked it up and made it the best we could for the girls. We were blessed by many non-profits who made sure our holidays had a lot of smiles in them. However the stress of healing, the daily care and the uncertainty of our future just weighed us down.

I realized the other day it's not just Christmas. I really don't care for any holidays anymore. I will even go as far as to say I think they are pointless. One friend told me that she truly hated that this journey has desensitized me to holiday joys. When we were in the Army, I didn't feel this way, but the 24 months of recovery, illness and WTB just wore me out to the point where a day is just a day.

On Easter, Mother's Day and every other day, Chaz needed a PICC line something or wound care. Something was wrong with this adaptive equipment. My list could go on and on. It didn't matter what day it was things had to be done. Days just became days with appointments, daily care and WTB policies.

I can't tell you how many times we didn't even know it was a holiday until someone told us. The only difference now is it is my normal and I accepted it. I guarantee you I have put mail out in the box on every federal holiday since Chaz retired and we came been home. My co-workers have to remind me of the holidays and that "we have the day off." Here's the harsh reality, caregivers never get a day off unless we run away alone. A lot of work has to be done in advance so we can run away, so we choose those times wisely.

The only days I ever protected were the girls' birthdays. Nothing else really didn't matter. Their birthdays are their special days and I was going to make sure of that no matter what was going on and no matter how tired I was. But holidays, I feel like we did the minimum. Christmas was the one that really beat me up. The girls wanted to be home and stay home in 2011 and 2012 and we could not give them that. They would get gifts that they had to leave behind because we did not have room in Maryland for any excess. I know that it really is trivial, but it mattered to them.

10 months since retirement and I am still in the same mode. I could care less about holidays. The girls' birthdays are still the most important days on our calendar, but I am going to change my attitude today!! The silver lining in all of this is our family was able to be together and that was a very important lesson that we have been able to teach our girls. It is time to take that lesson and combine it with the Christmas of 2009.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Today I am going to start to make that day great. Then Friday (sorry, I cannot decorate for Christmas until I have eaten my turkey) I am bringing our Christmas down from the attic. ALL OF IT!! That hasn't been done since 2009. My hubby asked me yesterday if I was going to go back to 2009 this year. Something tells me, he needs a little Christmas too.

It's time to hang some lights on this house and get into the holiday spirit. Now how in the world am I going to hang Christmas lights on this house alone? Well now, that's a great question. I'll figure that out one day when it's not 20-30 degrees outside. Our family can handle the inside. I am actually really looking forward to Friday and opening all those boxes. I have a feeling my Christmas was packed away in 2009. It's time to bring it out and celebrate the true gift of the Christmas.

Friday, November 8, 2013

To the Lady in the Airport Who Gave Me the Stink Eye.....

Last month we were traveling a lot. Now that I actually have time to write I am going to start sharing with you a few of our misadventures.....

Chaz and I had landed in the Nashville airport. Since it was a short trip, we each only needed a carry-on. Of course I also had a oversized purse to hold all the important things. You know wallet, chap stick, prosthetic spray bottle, all the things every one has in the purse, right?!

So here we are.....Chaz is wheeling. I have a carry-on suitcase in each hand and a heavy purse on my shoulder. I am trying to keep up with Chaz the entire time. (Just a side bar, when we travel I don't have to exercise, because chasing after him takes care of that.) This lady was walking next to us during this time. I am sure we passed her ay some point, but we ended up meeting on the curb. What happened next has really stuck with me.

My Mom pulled up in our car to pick us up. She had my car so Chaz had to stand up and walk to get in. I was busy loading the car and bam Chaz's leg locks and he falls. Do I rush over? No. Do I yell over at him? No. I observed to make sure he was ok and let him do his thing. At this time I feel eyes on me. You all know exactly what I am talking about. I, of course, locked eyes with this woman who proceeded to give me the stink eye. Now at this very moment, she was closer to Chaz than I was. But she was too busy formulating judgements and giving me the stink eye to care. Oh yes, yes I caught her glance and I just smiled the biggest smile at her. And of course she did the Hrmph noise, crossed her arms and looked away. Chaz saw it too and made a laugh about it later. He even asked if I felt the daggers she was throwing from her eyes.

Here's why that has stuck with me. The average civilian is ignorant to the life Chaz and I and so many others live. The average civilian does not understand that when my hubby falls I will not help him unless he gives me the signal or asks. The average civilian sees a man with artificial legs or sees a man sitting in a wheelchair and immediately jumps to sadness. They think aww that poor guy. The average civilian is full of pity and sorrow. Then when they put two and two together and realize we are together they immediately think I must be the beck and call girl. The average civilian doesn't look at me as a wife or partner in this marriage they see me at the constant attendant. I must drop everything and stand on top of Chaz at all times as if he is incapable of doing anything for himself.

My hubby led men into battle. My hubby saved lives. My hubby is a Hero and I will treat him like nothing else.

My hubby is an independent and stubborn as I am. My hubby is a proud man. He wants to do as much as he can on his own. What he can do on his own without assistance is now horribly limited and I will not take any of that away from him.

So no, if he falls, I will not rush over. Chaz and I are so wired together now that I know what he needs and when he needs it. Some might hate that, but I love the connection I have with my hubby. I love being able to read his mind. (Sometimes it does drive him crazy. Except with food, he loves it when I cook what he thinking about.) If he needs me, he lets me know. Many just do not understand what this life is like and that's totally ok. Our life would be a little better with fewer stink eyes in it. Unfortunately stink eyes come with this life that God has chosen Chaz and I for and we are ok with that.

Today I ask average civilians to please learn this lesson from stink-eye. Please know that sometimes things are not always what they seem. Sometimes Heroes fall down and they don't always need help getting back up. Those who love them the most do not need your evil stares and dagger eyes to let us know that you do not approve of our actions. We have enough stress in our lives that we don't need to add the extra judgmental incidents to it. Trust me we have all accumulated enough. If you are truly that concerned about the person then please just ask if you can help. It really is that easy.