A Rose Is A Rose?
A Valentine Saga…
by Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC (c)2016
It is no secret that for years I grew and loved growing roses, and that it was incredibly hard last year to give up with my rosebush that had been planted at our home in Hull, moved with me to Conway, moved with me again when Brian and I decided to build a life together.
I took comfort then, and still do now that when I realized she could not stay at the cabin so near the woods and the lake that had been our home, that she was just in as much danger there as Brian and I were.
The comfort was in the fact it was just the right time for me to be able to make her a early housewarming gift to my beautiful and talented daughter Katrina and her handsome, honest to goodness farmer love and partner.
This weekend in 2013,
Brian and I had become engaged,
and we were ecstatic
as we called our families and friends.
We were surprised by the distinctly obvious snubbing to our news by some people in each of our families. Enough were happy however, that we just brushed it off, realizing that just as we were not perfect, neither were the members of our families.
Summer, however ended with the visit, from quite far away, of one of Brian’s family members who hadn’t been seen in years and who, like us, had significant issues. We were both curious at the rather convoluted reason given for the trip, as well as sudden last minute changes in plans. Brian did his best to try to get his ex-wife to understand that this family member hadn’t even asked if our son had activities planned with her, never mind that they had been planned weeks before.
Suddenly, the family member actually refused to come visit us at our home, stressing our budget with a hotel bill when the demand was made that we go to a town where some of his equally distant relatives lived that was almost 2 1/2 hours away. Brian joked that maybe it was all an elaborate setup, and that it would actually be our engagement party. I thought about how close to that town some of my own family was, and agreed that we might as well just go along and see what was up.
Never, however, did we expect the full on attack that person engaged in, verbally berating Brian for making a decision to get married without “discussing it” with the sisters, including his ex-wife. Much later, we learned about how damaging female relational abuse can be, especially if one of the women involved is an abuser, and how even male family members can become terrified to speak up or express any dissent.
The final shot, after a shouting match at our hotel, was that if he insisted on marrying me, Brian must “absolutely do not let her change her name. She is not one of us.”
Brian went home so hurt and furious that for several weeks he had decided that he would instead take my maiden name at our wedding. Fearing his son would feel uncomfortable, I eventually talked him into BOTH of us changing our names to Marquis-Eckels, and that seemed to settle things.
By Valentine’s Day 2014,we were excited
about our upcoming August wedding…
and the weekend we didn’t have our son
we celebrated together with good food, good wine, and roses.
But inside I was troubled by a young boy expressing fears that we were making certain people angry by getting married, and that I in particular, should be careful.
That I could get hurt.
It was jarring to hear from a child, and had definitely flitted around the edges of our minds as we cooked our meal for our little celebration of our engagement anniversary.
Valentine’s last year, on the other hand, was so full of hope, as Brian and I had been back together since December, and we celebrated very quietly but happily the first weekend we were both back in the same zip code. I had been battling demons in the state bureaucracy again.
Those photos will never be online… 🙂
Our house hunting for a new 2 bedroom in a new town ended one day not long after when I began hemorrhaging, my long broken uterus no longer able to handle me walking, running, jumping into Brian’s arms every time he opened them up for me. Other things were wrong too – my weight and blood pressure much too low, anemic, pulses much too high much too often, and more.
I have been on bedrest and mostly in a wheelchair since, and lost the ability to even do the short walk at the MS doctor’s office before Halloween.
I was placed in a special wheelchair adapted apartment, too small for all three of us. Brian and I waited for the section 8 certificate we knew would come in sometime in the fall, and bounced between our two homes, even though a trip to the cabin took so much out of me, even with all the medications and menthol patches, iron pills and caffeine. We continued to often have a picnic lunch together before our weekly couples counseling sessions.
I am a psychiatric widow, my beloved still breathing, walking, but having succumbed to the domestic violence, female relational abuse, and of course the devious damage of the harlot, starting in mid-September.
His eyes no longer sparkle, he no longer has that jovial face.
I have asked our karaoke friends to please not send any more pictures, or pass on when he gets in trouble because of the things he does. I already watched him almost die from the thyroid goiter last year when the harlot took his pills and controlled his every breath.
Please, I begged, don’t make me watch him fall again. I can’t help him. I can’t bear to watch it happen again.
He calls sometimes, wanting to see me, missing me, but forgets that he alone has the key to do that and he’s no longer well enough to know how to use that key.
Nevertheless, the one person who knew the most about us and our relationship – one of our counselors – still will call once in a while to ask how he is doing, how I am managing. “Because”, she says, “it is just so tragic that two people so in love, so connected… have been torn apart by disease and…” she leaves silence instead of voicing the words for what she might call those that hurt and attacked, threatened, and took advantage of us.
When Brian does call, It is often like listening to a shadow whispering in his voice, coming from somewhere around the shattered body and broken brain and soul – not from that form so almost unrecognizable, but from some fraction of Brian’s spirit hovering nearby.
I no longer feel the guilt I did in October when I broke down and wrote to one of his functional family members, explaining how sick he was, how much more disabled I was, and how I just couldn’t take care of him and keep me alive anymore.
I am slowly working through the anger that even though I begged them to please send someone – his father, his brother David, even the social worker cousin only 2 hours away, no one came.
He began stacking up more missed appointments, more missed meds and more of the wrong medications, and the only thing that got me through it was that within weeks I was so sick myself – I no longer walked even a few steps. I was oblivious to most of his decline this winter because I was fighting battles of my own in two different hospitals.
Life has changed. I have changed. So this weekend, Valentine’s is more like what it meant to the Saint who the holiday was named for. It is about fidelity, Christian love and caring, and feeding the spirit. For me, it meant being willing to be the one getting the care, not giving it.
My big gift this year was a full 27 hours straight of direct home care from a family caregiver who also was able to find, copy, and collate the entire 20 page Welfare Department Annual Re-determination package and get it handed to my case manager by the 1pm deadline.
I will continue to get Medicaid, 6 of the 16 hours of home care I am approved for, and those precious $16 a month in food stamps. I can buy 4 packages of soy meat or cheese, with 4-10 servings each…when you are constantly struggling to not lose any more weight, 28 servings of 7 grams of protein a month can mean the difference between life and death.
My big gift meant I also got someone to hold my hand when I had a dysphasia related chocking episode instead of having to bear the pain, frustration, and loss of breath alone.
That big gift meant I had someone to adjust the pillows on my hospital bed that Brian broke the motor on and then got too sick to keep his promise to pay for the repair. I got sympathy about the fact I have to sleep in this broken bed for 2 1/2 more years before Medicare will buy a new working one, while Brian goes to sleep each night on his perfectly functional bed in his cabin with the forest, the lake, the pharmacy delivery each day he needs some from the neighbor. I got a hug when I cried, remembering when our two beds were joined together and the sweet hum and woosh-woosh of his CPAP machine would lull me to sleep in his strong, muscular arms.
I would have had a special meal and fancy dessert, too for my Valentine’s big gift, but I am still recovering from a same day endoscopy and colonoscopy over two weeks ago. I am still mostly on a Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, and ensure diet. Thankfully, last month a family member bought a case of ensure, cut from my covered prescriptions so New Hampshire could boast about low taxes. I am up to 2 oz of ensure twice a day, so I am actually tolerating 3-4 grams of protein and almost 500 calories a day.
Best of all, I didn’t have to get on a scale. I know I have lost more than last week’s 2 pounds, and I know that if I can’t start keeping down and digesting at least 1000 calories soon, it will be back to the hospital again. I know that this time it may have to be the G-tube because I have now been underweight all except for three 20 days periods since my world crashed after the attack on us October 15, 2014.
But for this weekend, I had care, hugs, support, someone to hand me tissues, and who found every possible bland and easy to digest food possible and set it up right next to my bed, with the water, the depends, the catheters, the gloves, the chucks, the dog’s food…just in case I wake up tomorrow to weak to get out of the bed.
A second, smaller gift, was when an old friend called to say hello and see how I was doing. To know he was out there praying for me and yes, for Brian, was so comforting.
Thank you both the one who came and worked so hard and the one who didn’t forget me. You know who you are.
I even accomplished a small feat, reached a small goal! My web design skills rusting, I actually was able to research and find a free survey program, get it set up, and put my first online survey together in over a year. A Rose By Any Other Name…Try it! It will be a critical part of growing my small online community if I survive the last surgery, avoid the G-tube again, and get enough rehab to take my dog for a “wheel” again. It felt as good as seeing the drafts slowly turn into edited posts, and the words become poems and court affidavits.
Yes, for a celibate “widow”, battling for her life, it has been a very good Valentine’s Day indeed! Jesus has me. I survive. I pray for Brian and my stepson everyday. I sometimes write. Most days I can (hoarsely) talk. And it is 9:30pm and I am at 490 calories with 2 grams of protein. My battle armor is on, my gifts have revived me, and I am Not Yet Dead. There’s a future.