This past Saturday provided a small but much needed “life break.” We had a wedding to attend for D, the daughter of one of Mom’s college friends. Mom’s college friends are her best friends and these get togethers are always ridiculous and full of laughter. They all have kids around the same age so needless to say there have been a lot of weddings the past few years between everyone’s kids. They are always fun and we always look forward to these occasions.
But this wedding weekend felt a bit different because of everything that had gone on the past 2 weeks. My family was tired. We were nervous. A Saturday day trip brought a lot of unknowns. I wasn’t sure how everything would work with Mom. Sister K kept telling me I shouldn’t worry about it, I just needed to let it come. She said if I worried I would work myself up before anything even happens. In hindsight she was right. I shouldn’t have been so worried about it, but I still was.
With the rules of Mom’s rehab facility she can leave during the day after PT/OTbut has to be back by midnight. D’s wedding was taking place here, where Sister K and I live. What was going to be a fun weekend trip became a day trip. The original plan changed. With Sister K’s help, Mom planned a big lunch for everyone at a restaurant in the afternoon so we could all spend time together before the wedding. Mom is the planner of her group. That is where I get it from.
Mom and Dad arrived in town, we met everone for lunch, Mom went and rested, then we met back up with everyone at the church for the wedding and reception that evening. As usual we were late for lunch, barely on time for the wedding. I now say that with a smile on my face. A smile because we are doing the best we can and I am learning to roll with that. If we are only 30 minutes late then we have succeeded. We may be late but we do make it and that is all that matters. Mom used her wheelchair Saturday and we took turns pushing her around. Her friends were so excited to see her and you could feel the energy change when she showed up. They all took turns sitting next to her at the reception, sharing stories, gossiping and laughing. Dad loved that they kept sitting in his seat to talk to her. This night was important for Mom in more ways than we know. It revitalized her. She got dressed up. She did her hair and put on make up. She had on her nice jewelry. She looked very pretty. I was so proud. I knew she felt good. Look good, feel good. Our whole family needed it.
There was a moment during the reception though when Maroon 5 Moves Like Jagger came on. Sister K and I were already on the dance floor. Sister K knows how much everyone in our small family loves this song (even though she does not) and proclaimed, “We gotta go get Dad!” So we ran over to the table, interrupted Dad’s conversation and made him come out on the dance floor with us. Sidenote regarding my family: This isn’t exactly an odd thing to happen. We are a dancing family. Dad and I danced to Abba’s Dancing Queen at my wedding as our Father/Daughter dance. We love to dance. In fact Sister K and I had already decided ahead of time the best way to avoid having to talk to other people about Mom was to never leave the dance floor. We had decided “We’re going to avoid everything and we’re just going to dance.”
But this moment of dancing and smiling felt different. I had an overwhelming feeling of admiration for my family. Here were three people who have had their lives turned upside down in the past 2 weeks. And it’s not over. Things will still continue to be a rollercoaster. But in that moment we were full of smiles. Holding hands with Dad on the dance floor. Acting goofy. Full of life.
This weekend was not without its stressful moments. We haven’t been given a magic wand to make life stress free just yet. There was the trickiness of moving Mom around in her wheelchair, getting her in and out of the car, trying to appear that everything was seamless to others, making sure Mom was feeling comfortable, etc. But even with the tiny moments of stress, the memory and the feelings associated with Dad out on the dance floor felt like a small reward for the tough moments of the past few weeks. It also reminded me that my family is tough. We are strong.
I believe only the strongest families can handle MS. I think everyone needs to remind themselves of that when things get tough. MS families each have their own qualities that bond them together. MS doesn’t break them but makes them stronger. Everyone pulls this strength from their own unique family personality. In their own ways everyday. For us, some days it is from laughter. Some days it is from random comments. But on Saturday night it was from dancing. I looked at Dad and Sister K and I said we are going to make it. We are going to get through this.
And we will.
How does your family cope with tough moments? Do you find strength in things as simple as laughter or dancing? Do you love a good wedding reception dance floor as much as I do? Have you ever caught a bouquet? Sister K actually tried instead of hiding in the back for the first time ever, and she failed miserably…