a depressing sort of freedom

During the past years, I postponed some activities because I needed to be near my mother. Some probably deserved postponement - like buying another motorcycle. (I'm still postponing this.) But now we all know that some things don't postpone well, like long distance relationships.

I'm not backtracking and claiming the relationship with Cincinnati* didn't work out solely because I was committed to caregiving. But I recently read an article that explained my feelings for him.

The Atlantic recently published an article about people who meet online, fall for each other, but for one reason or another don't meet for months or even years. One section that included an interview with a Reddit moderator explained what happens with others. It sort of happened to me as well. 

"I guess people on online dating sites know what they’re looking for, but these people in nevermet relationships aren’t really looking for love online,” the /r/LongDistance moderator tells me.  “Then one day they realize they love the person they’ve been talking to online. It’s a weird mindset to be in.”

This isn't exactly what happened, but close enough.


After meeting on FB in 2011, I finally met Cincinnati for dinner in either late 2013 or early 2014. He wasn't what I thought he'd be like. On FB he was always smiling, jokey, boyishly romantic. In person he was serious, looked serious. He was shy and didn't smile much. But these major differences in his FB and real-time persona didn't put me off; instead, they intrigued me.

But almost immediately after our dinner, I lost my job on a Tuesday and my mother fell and broke her hip three days later. And my ability to pursue this relationship took a major dive. I had to put my emotions on hold.

By the time I finally made it back to him last November - well, you know more about it than you probably want to know. (The shoes I accidentally left under his bed are still in Ohio, unless he threw them out. I hope not; they were pricey Donald Pliners.)

I still think our lack of communications played a big part in killing this relationship, but lack of time did as well.

But this hasn't been on my mind nearly as much as something else: relocation.

I want to leave Texas, and I hope I'll be able to do this before 2018 ends. Chicago and Los Angeles are on the shortlist, but this could change.

* See Key to Characters at right.


after the funeral

I arranged a simple graveside service for my mother, which was held two days ago. The sun was out and it was a warm day - about 70F - although the wind was up. 

More people attended that I had expected, including a friend who I'd known since I was 10 years old. We had a big falling-out about 15 years ago and hadn't spoken since, but since she had always been fond of my mother, I had a mutual friend tell her about the funeral. Now she's a Facebook friend, which means it's going to be difficult to de-activate the page again. I had only activated Facebook to tell people who lived near my parents' businesses that my mother was gone.

I did send Cincinnati* a short email telling him my mother had died. I didn't make small talk; it was just an announcement.  He read it almost immediately (I used a hidden mail tracker) but did not respond. He must really hate me to act in such a cold manner.

I was the last to leave the funeral. To me, death is not totally real until you not only see a casket lowered into the grave, but you hear those first clods of dirt fall on the casket. And this is what made me cry.

* See Key to Characters at right.


four weeks. two days.

My mother died last night.

I went to see her after work, having missed visiting her Monday evening because of working late. I was upset from the minute I walked in, as she was nothing like the previous visit of two days ago. She was having dreadful trouble breathing, even with the oxygen tubing (aka nasal cannula) and her mouth was bleeding a bit.

At first I thought the pnuemonia was the cause, but the hospice nurse said that she was so ill that she couldn't swallow properly and couldn't keep liquids from going into her lungs. The aspiration was also affecting her oxygen levels.

Because of this, the doctor had taken her off food and limited her intake to ice chips. She kept begging me to bring her a drink of water but all I could do was give her stupid little spoonfuls of ice chips (plus water when nobody was looking). I had brought her some banana pudding as I knew she really liked it, but I couldn't give it to her. 

She kept coughing and it sounded awful; somewhere between pneumonia and tuberculosis. She kept telling me she couldn't breathe.  So I asked the nurse what we could do. She said that she would increase my mother's oxygen when she got the okay from the doctor. I asked why we couldn't just crank up the level, and she told me that oxygen is considered a drug, and that nurses aren't allowed to increase it without a prescription. (I'm not kidding.)

I watched the oxygen monitor numbers keep dipping to below 80, but no doctor's order arrived. I waited and waited, but still nothing, and my mother kept saying she couldn't breathe. So I finally reached behind her bed and cranked up the oxygen.  It took a few minutes but she began to look better, and the coughing subsided.

Eventually she asked me to adjust the bed so she wasn't sitting up any more. I asked her if she wanted to rest a while and she said yes. She said that I needed to get home and have some dinner.

Less than two hours later, the hospital called to tell me she was gone.


the end of the long goodbye

My mother was taken to the ER yet another time last week for what her nurse called "breathing difficulties". This turned out to be pneumonia. Her oxygen level was scarily low for two days but the IV antibiotics seemed to be doing their job.

But during all of this, the hospital did the usual stack of blood tests and found some abnormal liver values, so they decided to get out the sonogram to look at her liver. And they found a lot of cancer which was inoperable, and considering her other health problems, traditional cancer treatments are not worth putting her through.

The upshot of all this is that my mother probably doesn't have more than four weeks to live. This is the oncologist's guess, although people tend to never die on schedule. So I have spent the last few days talking to many doctors and nurses and hospice administrators. My brothers showed up last weekend but were as unhelpful as usual; they stood around for an hour or two, said little and went home.

Today, my mother had a terrific appetite and demolished every food tray brought to her. (This hospital has rather good food - I even tasted a bit out of curiosity.) 

My reaction to her illness is nothing complex. I'm really sad. I sleep a lot more than I should. 


who drowned?

Last night we had a cold front come in, which means I generally sleep better than usual. And I had a lengthy dream (or more like several different dreams - REM sleep does that) in which Cincinnati* appeared.

At first, I'm riding my bicycle on some beautiful green hills that remind me of the area north of Cincinnati, where he lives. I'm on the top of a particularly high hill, and an older, cheerful man I don't know - who reminds me of the actor Joe Don Baker - tells me to ride down to the bottom of the hill and I'll be in Kentucky.  (The Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky.)

I ride my bike down and see a small pond, and am walking by it when I realize there's a dead body submerged just below the surface. It's female, but that's all I can tell. She's wearing really ugly shoes. The unknown man says he'll call the police.

The dream then goes to the unknown woman's funeral. I find myself standing behind Cincinnati's parents. Everyone including me is dressed in black. Somehow I look at Cincinnati's father's wallet, and realize he is paying for the funeral, although he has only written a note saying to pay $21. I find this a bit cheap.

The next part of the dream takes place in Cincinnati's condo, although it doesn't look like the real-life one. He is berating me for bothering him post-breakup, and going through a list of ways I have allegedly done so. But each time I ask for an example, he can't produce one.  

For example, he says I'm bothering him on Facebook. I say "Show it to me. I left Facebook last year." He can't prove his claim. But he doesn't apologize. Instead, he simply goes on to the next accusation.

As this weird conversation continues - although I'm not angry and patiently answering his questions, and he hasn't raised his voice much - he decides we should stand behind his refrigerator to continue, so his neighbors won't hear our voices. He is thinner than me so doesn't have a problem getting behind the fridge, but we find I have problems as I can't get my chest between the refrigerator and the wall.  He finally tilts the fridge over a few inches and I manage to squeeze in. We're both amused by my bust-induced problem. 

In case you're wondering, I never know why or how I got to his condo.

But that's where the dream ends. I have said before that I believe we often dream of two things - our hopes and fears. So I guess this dream was about my fears, although Cincinnati didn't like my Instagram faux pas.

In real life I have had no contact with Cincinnati, and I haven't heard from him. But why doesn't he return those shoes I left under his bed? That's not like him.

* See Key to Characters at right.