Meditations for Queer Femmes – Room of the Day

When we arrived at the Alzheimer’s care facility, a small sign posted near the door of my father’s room read, “Room of the Day”. I think it was some part of the culture of the facility, but it was striking to us because my dad had died in that room earlier that morning. Me, Tex, and my mom were there to say our goodbyes, grateful that we had been with him the night before, holding his hands and telling him we loved him, grateful that the angel of a nurse who had cared for him assured us that he went out peacefully.

All around us, people with Alzheimer’s went about their lives. Down the hall, someone was screaming with upset; earlier, a man had gripped my mother’s wrist, trying to lead her somewhere, as she kept mildly inquiring, “Have we met?” A woman told me I was looking pretty today; another woman shuffled past, clutching her pillow, going up and down the hallway endlessly. One of my father’s roommates kept going into the bathroom and flushing the toilet like it was his job. Some of these folks had been living at this facility for years; some, like my dad, were there for PT, and were expected to return home.

Dying as he did, rather suddenly, my father was perhaps spared some of the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s, as, on the whole, his life post-diagnosis had been relatively happy. We comfort ourselves with that thought as we grieve.

No matter how hard you try and escape it – and my father had assured us he would live to 100 (he made it to 88) – you will inevitably end up in the Room of the Day. I don’t just mean you will die, as we all will, I mean that someone close to you will die. And then you will need help. As an only child, even an only child with an amazing spouse, I have over and over had to admit that I can’t do it all by myself. When both my parents were in the hospital and I was sick myself, I couldn’t visit either of them. My mother came home; my father didn’t. I regret not being able to visit, but I have to forgive myself, as my father would forgive me. Having regrets is part of the experience of being human, but they are for sure not a healthy place to live, and, in this case, they don’t honor the deceased, nor, more importantly, do they honor the living, aka you and me.

By the time this is posted, I’ll be in the hospital undergoing surgery for breast cancer. It has been a hell of a year for our family, hitting all the big ones: addiction, serious illness, mental health issues, death. It’s impossible to live through all those without allowing others to share the burden. I am finding that with each hug, each offering of condolences, each memory shared, and task generously taken off my to-do list, I feel a little bit better, and even when the inevitable descent into grief comes again, it feels just that much more cathartic and less desperate, less of a bottomless pit.

How and when do you ask for help? Do you know in your body and heart what it feels like to truly accept love and support? These are all questions I am asking myself, as I move through these moments filled with so much emotion and transition, trying not to isolate, trying not to prevaricate, trying not to be foolish and stubborn about what I am and am not able to do, tolerate, manage. And, of course, along with accepting help is allowing yourself to help yourself. I’m writing this post because writing is what I do, it’s my art and my recourse to something bigger and more powerful than myself. The connection I feel with you, my readers, my sisters, whether I know you personally or not, helps me ground myself and feeds my soul.

Prepare for the Room of the Day today, dear sisters. Hug each other, tell each other sweet things. Connect with your ancestors and your mentors; appreciate the weather and be in the flow; eat something delicious and give someone a kiss. Open your hearts, stay curious, and shower yourself with love.

We are here for now, and for now only. It’s a beautiful place to be, and there is such good company.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)


Published in: on September 23, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Comments (8)  
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