This year, everything is different. Priorities have changed, the feeling of being on pins and needles, tiptoeing on egg shells… all that. And more. Yep, this year, it is a different Christmas.
What is different?
My partner is seriously ill with a recently-developed disabling illness that cannot be treated to make it go away or chase it into remission. His mother is staying with us, but that is for her benefit, not ours — so she will not be alone at Christmas. Actually, she is making things more difficult. Each time my partner has an outwardly visible spell of his disease, his mother breaks into tears — blaming herself and genetics for making her son so miserable.
So there I am, trying to help my partner by calming and reassuring him while I have to balance his mother’s behavior and calming her, too. She cannot understand that while her daughter’s arthritis may have a genetic link, her son’s chronic, debilitating, ailment has nothing to do with genetics. To her, everything is black-and-white — she did it, it’s her fault, and the world will end.
Yeah, this Christmas is different. No holiday cheer. No visits by family to our home. Nope, no way. My partner doesn’t want to see anyone for any reason. I don’t blame him; I understand.
But while this situation has shaken me to my core, I think, really, how fortunate we are … My partner has good health insurance, which pays some rather hefty bills for expensive tests and medical specialists. While dealing with the insurance provider is aggravating, I learned from helping my aunt and uncle in their last years of life with whom to ask to speak at the insurance company, what to ask for, and how to advocate for the proper care. That is a load I willingly take off my partner’s mind, as he should not have to deal with the shenanigans of his health insurance provider’s procedure-following drones.
I think how fortunate we are … that we have a comfortable home that we built (literally). My partner can be comfortable in different rooms — a quiet one in which to rest, a comfortable one to watch his serene backyard forest, a spacious eat-in kitchen in which he can have meals, and a comfortable basement media room where he can watch all his Tivo-recorded programs.
I think how fortunate we are … that my partner has someone willing, able, and wanting to help, and I am that someone. I don’t know how single people manage when they have a health crisis. (That’s why I volunteer to help widowed seniors so much… everybody needs somebody.)
I think how fortunate we are … my partner has longevity from his employer with ample sick leave. If he needed it, he can take off nine months. He also has short- and long-term disability insurance, too. That will defray the usage of his sick leave so that he could remain employed, receiving his full salary, yet not have to go to work for up to two full years. Then he can retire, if need be, and get a good pension. Ah, the benefits of staying with the same employer for 36 years.
I think how fortunate we are … we owe no debt. Being financially stable and sensible, we never spent money that we didn’t have. We did not take on debt that we couldn’t pay. We don’t have a car note, second mortgage, home equity line, or credit card debts carried month-to-month at exorbitant interest rates. What we own cannot be taken away from us through foreclosure or debt liens. There is tremendous relief in knowing that a major worry — financial problems — will not compound our current situation.
I think how fortunate we are … that I have a loving, caring, and thoughtful family who are right by my side, offering to do whatever I ask … or even if I don’t ask. They’re there. They love both of us, even as ornery as my partner gets when he isn’t feeling well. Having that family bedrock does wonders for my soul and sustains me during this trying time.
In this season of Christmas, I think seriously about my faith. My spirit is one of deep faith that keeps me going when the going is rough; keeps me focused on the positive, rather than dwell on the negative; keeps my spirits pleasant, regardless of outward forces to the contrary. This is one thing that is not different this Christmas: I still believe. I have faith. We will make this situation better.
Life is short: show those you love that you love them… and try to enjoy the holidays, whatever you celebrate.