Dearest Rachel –
This is more Daniel’s story than mine, but I seriously doubt that he’s ever going to write anything down anywhere about this. Besides, I need to commend him for sticking to this, and let you know about what he had agreed to do, and that he’s stuck to his promises.
Over the past month or so, Pastor Joel has been making a point of contacting him every Thursday evening. It’s not grief counseling, per se, but he is in his own way trying to get Daniel through these circumstances, kind of like how Pastor Scott has been dealing with me lately. Last Thursday, he got Daniel to promise to leave the house at least once every day, preferably under his own power, but if he went with me that was fine too.
For me, this would’ve been a ridiculous promise. Even during Covid, I was always eager to get out of the house. A day or two confined inside was just about enough for me. I just go stir crazy. Besides, we always need to get more provisions of one sort or another, and I was more than willing to go out and do that.
But you’ll recall that Daniel was in his glory when the lockdown came. He considered it a point of pride that he could go for weeks on end without leaving the house – although we certainly facilitated that by bringing in groceries and meals for him as well as ourselves. Some would probably say we ‘enabled’ him. In fact, some of them still do – and it hurts so much more to hear it now than it used to. Makes me feel like I failed him as a parent. Somehow, I never felt like that when you were by my side. Wish I understood what changed about that.
So, for him, that was actually a promise that he would need to make an effort to keep. I think that’s why Joel asked him to make such a promise. It would do him good to get outside, but we all know he wouldn’t do that for himself; he would have to be forced to do so – albeit gently. I know, I know… That sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it?
It certainly does to me. And it’s probably why I find it so difficult to do – and why I generally don’t even try.
Anyway, I’m recording each day this past week as to how he went out, so that you’re aware that he did, in fact, manage to keep his promise for this past week:
Sunday was Father’s Day, and the entire family went out to Weber Grill in the evening. That’s actually a story in and of itself, although again, probably not so much mine to tell. My sister Jenn had a particularly difficult time trying to get reservations at a restaurant any restaurant for luncheon. Just about everywhere was booked solid for the noon hour and the next couple hours thereafter. I’m sure it was a threefold thing: what with the pandemic lifting, everyone wants to get out; then you have the holiday crowd wanting to honor their fathers; and of course, if you’ve been keeping up with the news (wait a minute…), nobody can open up fully because they don’t have the staff to handle the crowds. At least she managed to get a time, even if it was in the evening, rather than the afternoon like we were used to on Sundays.
There is another funny story about all this. When Daniel and I were about to leave the house in order to go out to the restaurant, just as we were reaching for the door handles to get ourselves into the car, we heard this insistent honking out on the street. I can’t exactly speak for Daniel, but I was wondering who is that making all that noise, and what on earth is their problem? It was only after I went around the car that I realized that the folks had pulled into our driveway, offering us a ride so rather than having us as family bring three cars to the place, we could keep things down to two. Hey, at least it’s being somewhat environmentally friendly. It did leave me wishing that there was a way to make a horn sound somehow more friendly than angry some times.
For the record, I should point out that the place was crowded even at 6:30 – and it’s a good thing that they were only two cars for my family because I thought it would be hard-pressed to find a spot to park. Everything was tasty, too – although it did seem like we had to wait a little longer for service. But like I said, it seems to be the way things are these days, giving the staffing crisis that places are facing these days.
Monday, of course, was Daniel’s birthday. And again, the two of us went out to the Station, along with the Olsons, Logan and (eventually) Erin. So yes, the first couple of days, he was with me and other people – and being driven around- as opposed to doing something on his own recognizance. Still, out is out, and it works just fine.
However, on Tuesday afternoon, he went to the Container Store on his own. From what he tells me, he thought he remembered that they sold bright blue clothes hangers there. Which given we have been going through veritable mountains of his clothes in the laundry lately, that would turn out to be quite useful (and yes, I’m working with him about getting his about doing his own laundry these days). Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to be available in ‘his’ color after all, so he had to settle for – of all colors- purple. You might’ve appreciated that, though.
Additionally, I had him pick up vegetables for Chompers at Aldi (he did ask why Aldi in particular: I had to acknowledge that there wasn’t any particular reason. It’s just that in my limited experience, they generally had reasonably sized packages for a reasonable price. He seemed satisfied with that explanation). Granted, some of the bags of vegetables that he brought home had things like carrots (which have a little bit more sugar than dogs should probably eat) and corn (which Chompers has no idea what to do with), that I would not have selected for the dog to eat. Still, as they say with gifts, it’s the thought that counts.
On both Wednesday and Thursday, he simply went out for walks – generally around the block, Like we used to in with Chompers back when he could still walk. In fact, on Thursday, he was just arriving back from his walk as I was returning from working at VBS. So I convinced him to come with me to pick up dinner, which he generally doesn’t do – although in fairness, that’s usually because I’m picking something up on my way home, and this time I couldn’t do that because I couldn’t get in touch with him because he was on his walk in the first place. Everything comes around, you know?
When I left for work for the office on Friday, I reminded him about the various breakfast foods I had for him in the freezer (Hot Pockets and toaster waffles – Yes, I know it’s prepared foods, but I don’t wanna make things too difficult for him), but also suggested that if he wanted to, he could go out for lunch. Apparently, he preferred the latter option, as I noticed that Chipotle bag by his rocking chair when I got home. I really suppose I should get a wastebasket for the family room so that he can use that.
For Saturday, I take full responsibility for having distracted him from fulfilling his promise – at least for a while. When I got home from working in the booth on Saturday evening he still hadn’t gone out, but that was partly because I’d had him working in the laundry room on his piles of clothing. But when I got home I turned on YouTube and we watched a whole bunch of things, including bingeing on a new channel that we’ve never seen before something called Eddache, which I’m pretty sure you would’ve enjoyed it just as much as we did, but yeah… mea culpa.
Now, he told me when I asked him when he would be able to actually get out and fulfill his promise, that he would probably do it once I had gone off to bed with Chompers, and therefore would be free of distraction. Now, whether he did or didn’t I can’t say, but as you remember, he was never one to lie, and when he tried to, he was terrible at it, so I think I’d probably be well within my rights to trust him.
To be honest, I think I heard him rattling around in the background backyard while I was sitting up and waiting for Chompers to find himself a spot that was suitably comfortable for him. It’s not a walk around the block, to be sure, but it is still outside. And considering how I unintentionally worked to prevent him from fulfilling his promise, I’d be more than willing to give him the credit for that much.
And of course, today he drove himself to church while I was working in the booth. He even woke up early enough to go to the first service (although he does tend to prefer going then, as there are fewer people attending that one). The disadvantage to that is that he missed running into the folks, as they go to the second service. Then again, I seem to have missed seeing them there, too, so I guess we’re even.
So that’s it: he’s made it through an entire week, and left the house every single day, just like he promised Pastor Joel. I hope you’d be proud of him. I certainly am.
Now let’s see if he can keep this up. Pity he doesn’t get these electronic notice rewards like I do: “Congratulations! You’re on a seven day streak of going outside! Keep up the good work!” He could use the dopamine.