I guess you can say that I'm homesick.

Not homesick as in, I want to go to my hometown and catch up with friends and family, but more like, I really really miss the way that things used to be. I know that things change and life goes on and that's all a part of it and what growing pains are, but I'm lately finding that I am just sad.

I'm a big crier as it is, but tonight I am finding that I am crying big bullet melancholy tears without any control. I tried to go to sleep, but there is just too much in my head. Too many thoughts and memories and things that I am so confused about and so tired of. I know I'm not alone in my family in saying that I am just so tired of it all. Things used to be so great--I mean, we had problems in the past--but all of that seems like childsplay now.

At the end of this week, it will be a year since I was last in Vicksburg. That is the longest I've ever been away from there. When I moved to Chicago, I still went home for all the major holidays, probably about 4 times a year, and when I couldn't go down, Mom and Dad would come here. In many ways, I am proud of myself for not going home this year--too much of my life was being dragged down by all the pain and sadness, and when things got more stable, I had to take a step and listen to my heart and take care of my own life and things I've worked hard to cultivate--my mental and physical health, my relationship with my husband, my friends, my work as (formerly) a performer, as a producer and as a choreographer. I needed to put those first for a while. Going home is hard work--and it is just exactly that--the hardest work I've ever done. I can't tell you the last time I went home and didn't have to visit a family member in the hospital (there are always hospitals), or clean and care for my parents, clean out an empty house or part of a house, be responsible for meals and get groceries, care for the million cats and clean their piss off the dishes and their crap off the floor, or be generally in charge of things. The memories I have of the last few years in Vicksburg aren't good ones (though or course there are some--we Reids love to laugh, though that gets harder and harder to do and rarer as time goes on.)

Everyday I miss my Daddy--gosh--I would give anything to talk to him, give him a hug and get a hug back, to hear him say "Hey Girl." But I also really miss my Mom, my Maudra, as I call her (I'm Daudra.) When she got sick last year, it was the hardest thing I've ever had to see and experience--harder than dealing with the cancer for so many years, even. When Mom got sick, everything changed--in the thick of her illness, she had constant spasms and panic attacks and hysteria--I can't describe it, and it is really really hard to think about it now. Every day was filled with endless phonecalls of panic, calls to doctors, nurses, social workers, family members or anyone at all-- I wasn't in town for the beginning of it, cause I had just returned to Chicago after a 2 month absence and was given all sorts of responsibilities which I probably barely was able to complete because I was trying to mourn Dad's death but wasn't able to due to Mom's illness. Emergency room visit after visit, latenight crisis prevention phonecalls, constant pain on her end, drug abuse prevention. And later, when I was there more, emergency calls to mental health professionals, calls to 911, the pain of seeing her have no spark of recognition when she saw me. Seeing her in so much pain. Seeing how she stopped physically being able to eat or talk. Having to cut the gum and candy out of her hair because she went to sleep eating it because it stopped the pain in her head. Doctors, more doctors, more hospitals, tons of medicines, and then one day, a glimmer of her personality. God, I remember the day I went to visit her in one hospital (she was in lockdown--I could only go in for 2 hours a day on the weekdays and 6 on the weekends) and she said "Hey baby" when I walked in the door, and I was so elated that she was Mom--Mom mom, not the physical shell who looked like my Mom. Of course, we had a long long road after that, sadly one that we are still on. She is so much better now, thank God, over a year later, but every day is still such a challenge. She still has a hard time talking and making out words in certain times of stress or activity, and her memory and brain power isn't what it used to be, but at least we still have her. Our roles totally reversed when she got sick--Christopher and I were suddenly in charge, and it's so interesting--I've seen the stages of infancy through teen in her. Things are so much better now, but in that time of pain, I changed and hardened and am now a different person. The way I've found that I deal with emotional pain and crisis is to shut off my emotional side of my brain and go into technical crisis prevention. I had to develop a hard hard hard outer shell when dealing with my mother, and it's not easy to break down-I am terrified of getting hurt again. But I know that I need to work hard to rebuild the relationship, but I am so scared. We have the same conversation time and time again which makes me lose all my patience, and in the few times I've been able to confide in her or she acts like the old mom, she rarely remembers it, which is painful, too. This week, when talking to her on the phone, I hurt for her. I hurt that she is in so much pain, I hurt that she is disabled, I hurt for what we've all been through. I was angry about it for a long time, now I am much more sad.

When I think about my mom and my grandmothers, both still alive and in Vicksburg, it just breaks my heart. I want to be able to see them, to make them smile, to make them feel loved. But I am afraid I don't know how to do that anymore. Seeing them old and sick and in a nursing home isn't easy, either. And so I just haven't been home. That's where I start to feel guilty. When I think of going home, I see things as warm and fuzzy in my head--the comfort of the coffee shop, the smell of mom and dad's house--but I know that whats really there for me the pain of Dad's absence, the disappointment that Mom isn't 100% and the fact that I don't have anything to say to anyone. Or that I don't know what to say.

So this is what I am homesick for--having a place to go to where I can be loved and nurtured and taken care of--a place I can be a daughter instead of a caregiver. I miss the laughter and carefreeness we had before the harsh life of a miserable disease and mental illness ripped it from our reality and made it all a memory.

I daydream sometimes about Dad's grave at the cemetery. It is really comforting in my dreams. I have this mission to make it the gaudiest gravesite in the whole cemetery--I've already put gnomes and frogs and stone turtles on it. I think about laying in the grass and talking to Dad, and I think that it would be good for me to go out there. I think I need to go by myself, too. Usually when I go I'm with other people, so I feel rushed or like I am being watched. But I know that it's not the real thing, and that if I were to go, I would probably get fidgety and uncomfortable and sad and want to leave. Maybe I just need some time.

Hah. That's an appropriate statement. Maybe we all just need some time.


Get it all out girl. You are so strong and I love you so much.

Aw, Erica. The fact that you can smile and laugh and dance and be beautiful on ANY day after all this is such an inspiration.
I hope you find can new ways to make sense of home. :)