Been a while. Been a long while.

I’m not who I was when I started journaling, nor when I stopped. Lots of little changes and now, a very big one, which all changed the landscape, changed the roadmap, changed the atmosphere.

My wife’s mother is dying.

It changes nothing, immediately. It changes everything.

We’ll still go to work, still cook meals and do laundry and sweep the floor and vacuum the carpet and walk the dog and feed the cats and watch the news, all of which we’d already been doing, which marked the outline of our days. It’s just that now… now we’ll be doing it in the shadow of the awareness of death, which colors all things, now.

I mean that deliberately; it’s the awareness of death that has shifted the palette of our lives. Death’s a constant thing, it’s the only thing all of us, uniformly, can expect out of life: that it will, eventually, end. It’s just that most of us, most of the time, can push that awareness away, tamp it down and keep it hidden from immediate view. We can forget, for a while, that it’s there. Death is considerate, that way: much of the time, for many of us, it steps aside and lets us get on with living.

Now, very suddenly, we’ve remembered, and all the mundane actions of our lives take on the hue of it.

A week ago, my wife’s brother called – their mom had been sick a while, and had finally collapsed, been brought to the ICU with suspected kidney failure. So we left, very quickly, went down to Alabama to do what we could to help. We spent the week alternating between working remotely, cleaning the house for her, and sitting with her and my father-in-law in the hospital, while around us doctors and nurses administered medicines, ran tests. Maybe a gallstone, they thought; there was bile pooling on her liver, had poisoned her system, all but shut down her kidneys. They drained all that off, treated the systemic infection. She responded well to stabilizing treatments. Doctors ran more tests, performed two minor surgeries to help with stabilizing, brought us some bad news, some good; nothing conclusive. My wife and I, on the understanding that more tests were needed and would be happening this week sometime, hugged everyone, promised to see folks at Thanksgiving, and left for home yesterday afternoon. Call us if anything changes; call us when you know more.

Be careful what you ask for.

Less than halfway home, we got a call from her brother. The CT scan results from yesterday morning had already come back.

She has cancer. It has metastasized, it is inoperable, and her doctors have estimated six months for her to live.

So today… we did some laundry. I loaded the dishwasher. I cleaned the catboxes, ran and got lunch. We caught up on Doctor Who. Tomorrow we’ll go to work, we’ll go to the grocery store. We’ll go visit family at Thanksgiving, at Christmas. All of these things are normal, but now there is nothing normal about them.

There are huge, enormous things going on in the world right now. Hopefully soon I’ll have enough cope left to care again. Right now, it’s just too much.