The Rule of Three

Growing up, Christmas was always my favorite holiday. The magic of Santa, the lights, the sweets, the presents; there was so much excitement. Even after the allure of Santa began to dwindle, the holiday still remained joyful and fun. It meant drinking wine with my mom or traveling home from college or seeing the excitement on the faces of my niece and nephew.

But in 2010 my grandmother passed away and it was the first Christmas without a staple tradition of ours. I think that’s when the shift came. It happened slowly but over the next seven years, Christmas lost some of its shine. It became stressful. I have a running list of all the gifts I want to give my friends and family but I have never felt like I can afford any of them. Stephanie and I got engaged and started swapping holidays with our families between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While a common practice among most couples, it feels particularly hard at times because traveling to visit my family requires more time and effort, and therefore happens far less.

And suddenly this Christmas, I feel like adulthood is truly being thrust upon me. My Grandad is doing well, but he still has a brain tumor and he’s still 91. And a week ago he was out shopping by himself, tripped over his feet, and landed on his face and head. He went to the ER with my mother later that night and he’s okay but it’s a reminder of how much it scares me that the time I have left with him is precious and short.

Two days later, on Sunday, my mother called to tell me that our dog of 14 years, Trixie, was having a difficult time breathing and my mother asked for my advice. Trixie had a heart episode a few months back and has been on daily medication but she’d been doing well, so this came as a bit of a shock. I told my mom to take her to the vet. A few hours later, while I was waiting at Walmart to pick up my car after an oil change, my mom called me sobbing and said that the vet wanted to euthanize Trixie. My mom had called earlier that day asking for my advice because this is what she feared, and she didn’t want to face the truth. I can’t begin to explain the bond that my mom and that dog have but I can tell you that that dog goes everywhere with her. My mom called me crying at least four more times that day.

She didn’t euthanize Trixie. She said, “they wanted to pull the plug on your grandmother and I said no and the next day she came home.” So I told my mom, “tell the vets to keep going, because in the end, no matter what happens, you can say that it’s because of you that she lived or that you did everything you could have done.” Since then my mom has called me almost every day to apologize for putting me through this. And she gives me the same little speech every day, explaining to me why she’s doing what she’s doing for Trixie. And I know it’s not for me. I know she keeps saying it because she needs to hear it. Because she needs to reassure herself that she’s not crazy. I think she’d kill me if she found out I wrote this. She’s very scared that people will think her actions make her crazy. I think she just wants me to be able to come home for the Holidays and see my dog.

But I certainly don’t think she’s crazy. Because after 3.5 days in an oxygen chamber, hooked up to three different IVs, Trixie got to go home. She’s still not completely okay, and I think there’s a part of my mom that is convinced that as soon as I get home, Trixie will make a 180. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed. And I’m reaching out to the universe. Because I don’t think I can see my mom’s heartbreak like that. Especially not at Christmas.

But even with the good news comes more bad news. My uncle Pat lives in VA closeby to everyone. He has lived in a few group homes but he really has seemed to thrive in the past few years and is even working–something he seems to genuinely enjoy. My mom got a call the other day that he had been taken to the ER because he could not stand up. Occasionally he has issues with his legs and knees, where if he’s trying to sit in a chair and doesn’t lower himself down quite right, his legs will buckle. He can’t go up stairs and struggles to go down them as well. But this was different. They said they tried multiple times to get him up but that he couldn’t support himself. I’m still not sure exactly what the issue was but they think it may be related to a new medicine and his nerves. But while at the hospital, they discovered that his ankle is broken and has been for some time, and will, therefore, most likely require surgery. If he’s unable to move between a wheelchair and a bed on his own, he cannot stay at the group home he’s currently at. He doesn’t handle change well, he gets confused and upset, and my mom is so worried about what happens next.

And last but not least, it’s been two years since I’ve seen my niece and nephew. And I think it’s been a year for my parents. They live in Virginia but their mother won’t allow us to see them. And I have no idea why. Because my parents practically raised them for a couple of years. But it absolutely breaks my heart because I miss them so terribly.

My mom has asked me multiple times if we’re still going to VA for Christmas or if we’ve changed our minds. I keep telling her that I’m coming. That nothing will change that. I think she’s really looking forward to having someone else around in case there’s another emergency next week. But these things come in three’s right? We’re done. We need to be done. She needs a break.

I read online that oxygen chambers run an average of $100 per half hour. I haven’t done that math for 3.5 days because I don’t want to see the number. Because that’s not even half of it. I started a gofundme for the vet bills and it would be cool if you would consider giving to it, but honestly, more than anything, just send positive thoughts. Send prayers. Ask the universe. Make wishes. Whatever you do. We could use a little.


Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Holidays.


P.S. Sorry that this post was a bit of a downer right before Christmas. I’ve been meaning to write it for days. This helped.

P.S. If you want to help me out with a Christmas gift for my mom, click here.

written while listening to one of my favorite playlists.

Advertisements Share this:
Like this:Like Loading... Related