So Many Spinning Plates

Dearest Rachel –

Home used to be a haven for me. I could come home after a hard day, even after spending a hour or two (or three) in a conference room being told by my boss that I was a worthless piece of, well, you know; that I was a huge disappointment to him, to say nothing of a complete embarrassment; and the fact that you were there to welcome me, and tell me that you loved me regardless, and that someday we would be free of all this, well, it made it all worth while.

Then, it happened, and we were free. We spent nine months together – although I had made an ‘office’ at my folks’ house to keep tabs on Dad, and to work on that dream project of being a YouTube creator – treating any day we wanted as a Saturday, traveling with people you helped make our friends, meeting up with family from long ago. The house was our headquarters, but wherever we were, we were home together.

That’s when the pandemic hit, and we locked ourselves in like everyone else. And we were serene in the fact that, while we couldn’t really go anywhere anymore, we were together, we had everything together, and we were all still happy together. And as things eventually began to open up, we were looking forward to all the things we were going to do together once things got back to normal.

Only, we never got to that point.

Now, I’m juggling a house chock-full of stuff belonging to people I didn’t know, a son who is literally watching political videos all his waking hours, and an aging dog that – while he may not exactly need 24/7 care – might need attention at any moment’s notice. That’s a lot of plates to keep spinning in the air – to say nothing of the things I had been working on as part of my daily life before everything went sideways. And each of these plates are full.

And I’m having to keep them spinning on my own.

Yes, I have supportive friends and family, but they can’t be with me first thing in the morning or last thing at night, like you were. They didn’t own these things the way you did, and couldn’t be expected to now. For all intents and purposes, this is part of my inheritance from you, I’m afraid.

Why, I can’t even take a shower anymore. I don’t know what it is about it, but the sound of the shower is almost a guaranteed to wake him up, and once he’s awake, he will absolutely lose it. He goes through the whole cycle of whimpering, whining and barking – at least, I suspect so. With the water running, all I actually hear is the barking. But it’s quite a lot of it.

And sometimes, it’s actually a literal case of him losing his, uh…

…well, you know. I’ve had to pick up after him in his bed or blanket more than once, now. It’s like that old joke about the seniors discussing their difficulties with bodily functions, save for the one guy who’s regular as clockwork in the morning – except that he wakes up a hour after he’s done everything his body demands of him.

At least he wasn’t like that this morning. But it’s still hard to convince him to calm down while I get myself dressed in order to attend to his other needs. It does occur to me that even if we were still together, we would never be able to enjoy a shower again anyway, so maybe I’m not missing as much as I sometimes think I am.

That’s when I slap that thought back to the darker recesses of my mind, and tell it not to come out until it promises to behave.

Especially since there isn’t time to muse about stuff like that. Chompers may calm down as stop barking once he sees me dripping wet and more than a little irritated at his tirade, but he’s still not had his needs met, and his continued whimpering is more than enough to make that perfectly clear. Gotta get dressed, though – I’m not going past that picture window en route to the kitchen until then. Thing is, Chompers doesn’t seem to understand that, or maybe why I can’t magically produce his bowl laden with food on the spot. Not to mention, if I leave his sight, that whimpering escalates to whining, and so forth. Yes indeed, it’s another juggling act.

Thankfully, I make up the MREs when I’m preparing dinner for him, so everything is in the fridge all ready made up for him. All I have to do is to put the container in the bowl (and those Beneful containers are a perfect fit – at least, until he starts licking at the bottom and practically picks the container up and out with his tongue alone!), add his Carprovit for his arthritis and some cranberry powder for his urinary tract, and he’s good to go. So, I carry him outside under one arm, and the bowl with the other hand, and set them both outside for an al fresco dining experience – thank heavens for the warmth of spring.

And he eats heartily, if messily. Which I think is one of those indications that he’s not at death’s door at this point. So for a moment, I’m encouraged that I’m doing well…

Until he totters over and falls, leaving me to set him back on his feet, over and over again. He just keeps rotating on that back left foot, like it was nailed to the pavement. Between that and the fact that his back right foot automatically folds up under himself with every step, I’m stuck propping him up as he pees on himself more than the ground.

Once inside again, I’m also hard pressed to get anything done when it’s just him and me, either. Even once he’s fed, pottied and all that, it still takes him forever to get settled, so that I can walk away and perform my own morning routine – reading, writing, having breakfast (yes, he eats before either of us, like the alpha dog he is. And I think he knows it). And just when I think he’s all settled in, and I can tend to my own work while I wait for Daniel to wake up (I’m not about to head to the office until I know he’s up and able to deal with the dog), he starts up his little cycle all over again, prompting me to rush into the sunroom and set him on his feet so he can go to where he’s more comfortable or happy, I don’t know which. And he just takes a step or two before collapsing, whimpering yet again. Prop, step, step, fall, whine, whine, prop, step, step, fall, whine, whine.

This is a responsibility I never wanted, honey, and you know it. And I don’t know how long I can keep up this juggling act. At least Daniel’s friend Logan is coming over this afternoon, so that…

  • Chompers will have both boys keeping an eye on him (from time to time as needed; he sleeps enough that he’s not a constant handful, it’s just that once he’s awake and upset, he’s got to be dealt with immediately), and
  • Daniel will be able to enjoy some social interaction other than those videos. He seems to be able to set them aside for Logan’s sake, anyway.

It does make life a little easier for me when there’s at least a third person around. I just still wish you were that third person.

But for now, I’ve got to keep those plates spinning, even though they’re full.

Talk to you later, honey. Got to head out to the ‘office’.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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