I nominate for heroes - true saints - anyone who has turned their life, their dreams, their gifts, their time, their marriage, their relationships, their hobbies, their desires over, abandoned them so that they can care for another person.
For the first time in months I accidentally spied this blog's traffic. It's down a ton, and that's because I'm not writing anything.
There are two reasons: if I write something, that means someone can use it against me. "I thought you said in your blog Ethan had fever," said one reader. "Why don't you just write about this in your blog," sneered another about a year ago.
The other reason is that I'm spent. I'm working and working and working. My work is fighting for survival in a tough economy, and I receive a lot of pressure to succeed, to bill lots of time, to acquire new business. So I do. I left work last night at 8:30 pm and left for work at 5:20 am. My reward for working that hard is that I get to keep my job.
But when I got home last night after stopping at the drugstore for medicine for my poor Aidan who's sick, my sainted wife was exhausted from her long day of holding serve with 8 children, one of whom is a special needs kid which by herself is a 24/7 job. A special needs kid who has an undetermined future, an undetermined group of future needs. Who may or may not talk. Or sign. Or walk. Or live.
The others - the older three, for example - have needs. Kellen has both of his toes worked on and needs a permanent solution applied there somewhere during the hoops season. Isabel just had three teeth removed and next week her final stages of braces. Eventually, she'll need another four teeth removed. Teia wants to get to Green Bay to meet with cousins. Those are typical, average, everyday needs.
And it means that when Jen is concerned about how she's in day 3 of a headache that includes her neck and back, she knows she can't afford a co-pay, not this year. Maybe January. For now, the co-pays go for Kellen's feet, Izzi's teeth, and to the urgent care for little Aidan, who had 103 fever last night.
1:30 Jen begged for three hours of sleep. I tried. At hour 2.5 I had drifted off, and Zoe threw up all over the bed, herself. Everybody up, everybody out. Clean off the bed, lay something on it. I'm looking anxiously at the clock knowing I have to be up at 5.
3:30 Jen's up and angry, emotional. She left the baby wipes in the car and has to go out in the 20 degree weather for them. She's slamming things and flops on the bed and I stir. I'll be up in 1.5 hours.
5:00 Zoe is still up. She's crying. Not sure why, maybe because it's the end of her nocturnal day. Maybe something else. She can't communicate like any other 19 month old so we wonder if she's hungry? Empty stomach from evacuating it hours before? Are we even awake and rational enough to decide?
7:00 I'm here at work and have been for an hour. I have three projects due today. Tonight will be no different, except Jen works, then comes home. This will never end. We hope it doesn't, because if it does, then something happened to Zoe.
We are nothing special. We're just burned out and tired and there's honestly no hope. Date night? Why? We're so tired and broke. We are poorer than we ever have been. I work so many hours I can't take on another job. I will not get a bonus from an employer that's struggling to stay afloat.
And I know I'm not the only parent or child like this. There are so many heroes out there. I wish I could hug you all. Jen and I both wish and hope we'll win a lottery so we can help you all. Your sacrifice, heroes, goes unnoticed, I think, even by yourself. I pray for you. Pray for your strength. A glimmer of hope somewhere, somehow. Maybe some sleep.