The two things that have plagued my life most in 2009 (actually, for the last year and a half)? Death and taxes. The two sure things in life.
It's Christmas Eve, and I know that I am on the verge of losing another grandparent. This time, even though I'm more prepared and have been for longer than I care to admit, it's been especially difficult watching my family struggle with letting go. My grandfather (step-grandfather, technically) has been bed-ridden for many months, and was nearly immobile long before then. He's survived three serious bouts of pneumonia over the last year when no one expected him to make it through the first. He long ago lost his ability to effectively communication, and sometimes getting a simple yes or no out of him is difficult. When I last saw him over Thanksgiving, he looked much worse than I had ever seen him. This is morbid, but he looked as though he was deteriorating in his bed, as though his body had already failed him but he didn't know that yet. When I was there, I spent a little while speaking to the Hospice nurses who care for him regularly, and they were just trying to keep him comfortable.
That was a month ago. When I spoke with my mother last night to check in, funeral arrangements were being made, and he was taking morphine every two hours to manage the pain of his body breaking down. I wonder if he knows he's dying. I wonder why, if he does, doesn't he let go.
My mother told me that two nights ago, he called my stepfather over to his bed. He held out his hand and John went to him. My mother said they sat there holding hands for more than an hour, as my stepfather told him stories and fond memories. John later told my mother that he thought my grandfather was waiting for him to say that it was okay to go now. But he couldn't. It's hard to let your parent leave the world even if you know that its time.
I cry every time I even think about them sitting there together.
When I lost my beloved uncle earlier this year, I was a mess. I thought this time was easier, if only because I was not as close to Pop. If I'm being perfectly honest, Pop was never especially nice to me. When we were kids, Pop clearly favored my brother and they had a very sweet relationship. I suppose I was a little jealous then, but I grew out of that. Pop used to spend every weekend with my family, and when he'd drive from my aunt's house to ours on a Friday afternoon, he would bring homemade pastries and fresh vegetables from the farmer's market that he passed on the way. At least one weekend a month, he would bring me whoopie pies, which were my favorite. I remember Pop also liked the pumpkin cookies I used to make in the fall.
My family has lost too many people over the last year and a half. I hope that changes in 2010.
Less significant than death, but more omnipresent in my daily life has been my struggle this year with my finances. My situation is probably worse than ever, but I've continued, for the most part, to go about my days as though it weren't. I've overdrawn my checking account more than once over the past few months and the more often it accidentally happened, the sense of embarrassment I felt the first time it happened diminishes. By not taking care of money, I am not taking good care of myself, and I know that at 28 years old, I should be there by now. I need to be there. I think that if I had expensive clothes and shoes and went out to eat for every meal, I'd deserve to be in the position that I'm in, but I don't. My monthly bills come just shy of my monthly pay and that will not change. If I worked fewer hours per week I could probably get a part-time job to supplement my income, but unless it was an extremely lucrative one (say, drug dealer?), I could not make enough in my "free" time to make it worth it. There's the taxes to consider. I was lucky enough to get a small bonus from my company for the holidays this year, and 45% of it went to taxes. I did the math.
I know that when I get my income tax refund in February I can kick start my bank account and get back on track, but that feels like its eons away. Even though I say that I really am trying, whatever I'm doing just doesn't work. Maybe I will just hit the lottery in 2010. That might help.