The waiting place

(With apologies to Dr Seuss…)

I am currently in the Waiting Place and there’s nothing to do here except…wait.

I’m not very good at just patiently waiting, even though I’ve been working hard on trying to become more patient in general.

One of the things I’m waiting on is whether or not my son will continue with college right now. He says he doesn’t know if he wants to drop out or not.

I tried advising him several different ways. I encouraged him to try to stick it out and gave him some strategies to do so.

I also told him that this isn’t a life-or-death kind of decision. I reminded him that even if he decides to drop out now, it doesn’t mean he can’t ever go back. Whether he takes a semester off or a couple of years, the rest of his entire life isn’t hinging on what he does now.

I admit that I would love to have him back home. But I also take a lot of pride in the fact that he’s a student at this university. I am conflicted in part because he’s conflicted. If he were committed to staying there, I would just keep cheering him on and taking pride in being an “Aggie Mom” (his school team is the Aggies.) I’d still feel kinda sad and lost because of his absence but I’d learn to deal with it.

I guess in a way that’s a lie, though. I think that it did feel like he left too soon, which is probably only because Amy didn’t move out until she was 23 and Chloe is still here, possibly for the long haul. He is feeling a lot like he left too soon, too.

That’s another way in which I’m in the waiting place, though: gradually coming to see my time in this country as inevitably finite. I am both excited and terrified of the thought of going somewhere else.

I’m still in the early planning stages, so I’m not sure yet where I’ll end up. I was thinking of Puerto Vallarta but the climate there is probably not what I want. It doesn’t ever get cold, which is good, but the humidity levels are even worse than Houston (much worse, actually) and I absolutely hated the humidity in Houston.

So now I’m looking at San Miguel de Allende, which is also cheap and safe but has a more moderate climate.

I wish that J could go with me. Who knows? Maybe he can. If he lives long enough and we save enough, maybe it could happen. But I also realize that it probably won’t, which makes me very sad.

In a way, I feel like in his death, he’s making sure I’ll have a better life—which is his greatest concern—by enabling me to leave the country. I just don’t see any future scenarios in which it would still be good to stay here (unless like I got remarried to someone with a buttload of money, which is very highly unlikely.)

The one good thing about that is that it’s already decreasing my desire to shop because I know I wouldn’t be able to take most stuff with me. It’s funny how effectively that curbs my shopping desire and hopefully I can find my way back to a more minimalist lifestyle again.

Another bit of good news is that Chloe really wants to go with me. We talked a lot at dinner yesterday about how the US is really the only culture that puts such an emphasis on independence, often to our own detriment.

We talked about how everyone is essentially on their own here, maintaining separate households, even when it would be so much better to combine them. If she ever adopts kids, I could take care of them, rather than her having to pay thousands of dollars a month for child care from a stranger.

She also said that as I get older, she can take care of me (which was an enormous relief to hear, since I won’t have J and the future of my health is so unknown.)

She said that the multi-generational approach to living that is common in almost every other country than here just makes a lot of sense (assuming you don’t have a really toxic family.) And honestly, I agree. I’m still salty about the fact that my parents wouldn’t even watch the kids for a couple hours a week so I could go to school or work.

I guess this is the payoff for the way I’ve raised my kids with a “family first” ideology. They aren’t ready to be completely independent at 18–but I dare say that most kids aren’t (or at least certainly not these days.)

But because I’m committed to trying to understand them and working on eliminating my more toxic traits, they don’t see it as horrible to be around me or as necessary to be on their own.

It’s a different way of life from most Americans, to be sure, but I’m really happy that at least one of my kids wants to go with me. And even in the off chance that I don’t ever end up moving, there’s still this idea of shared responsibility to one another, which really makes me feel like I’ve done some things right as a parent.

Burnout

As I said yesterday, I am so burned out that it’s not even funny. Unfortunately, that just continues to get worse. I guess in that regard, I can really relate to what Dyl’s going through right now.

Last night at dinner, Chloe said that I seem to be busy from the time I wake up until I go to bed. I asked J if it seemed that way to him too and he said it did.

The problem is that I don’t know how to stop. I don’t know how to let myself just relax. It always seems like there’s still more to do. I always end the day with more things I still wanted to do and just couldn’t get to them. I don’t know if that’s a normal feeling and if I just have to get more comfortable with leaving things undone.

I do know that a lot of it still goes back to something my dad told me when I was 18 or 19 (which may be a story I’ve told here before; I know that I’ve told it a lot in real life.)

I was working two jobs, one full-time and one part-time, and he suggested that I take a third-shift job, too. (Mind you, he himself has never even held two jobs at the same time.)

The me of today thinks that I must have misunderstood him. Maybe he was suggesting that I get a third-shift job instead of the other two. That seems much more reasonable. However, my impression at the time was that he was definitely telling me to take a third job.

But nonetheless, it created this never ending sense of pressure, that whatever I was doing wasn’t enough and I could always be doing more. And that has been extremely hard to break. Even when I’ve held full-time jobs, I still continued to freelance on the side.

It’s not really about money, although that’s part of it, for sure. There’s always a reason that I think I could use more money.

But really, it’s primarily that I can’t let myself relax. I beat myself up and call myself lazy, no matter how much I’m doing. And there’s never a point where I can give myself permission to relax.

Right now, I am really pushing myself far past my limits and I know it. Ordinarily, after last weekend (which had me make two trips down to where my son goes to school and back), I would have taken a couple of extra days to sleep late to recover.

But I didn’t, in part because I couldn’t. Chloe had several appointments last week and I also had errands to run. And I still have more errands to run, so I don’t know when it will slow down.

Yesterday, I woke up to a message from Dyl expressing his health concerns. Then I actually fell back asleep for a couple of hours but woke up to yet another message from Dyl, about wanting to get the shingles vaccine—which they don’t give out to people here until they’re 50. I told him we’d be better off trying to get him a chickenpox booster shot (he had the virus naturally when he was very young.)

At the same time, I was kinda thinking, seriously?! I am always patient with him and take his concerns seriously. But his health anxiety is out of control and it’s significantly increasing my own stress levels.

I’m enormously grateful that he feels that he can talk to me and I don’t want to do anything to discourage that. But I’d be lying if I said his concerns weren’t weighing on me heavily.

I don’t honestly know what’s going to happen with my health as a result of pushing myself so hard. J thinks I’m risking that I’ll end up in the hospital again and I don’t think that’s entirely unfounded.

I just don’t know how to stop.

The apology

He said it with a dozen red roses, proving that not everything good about our relationship has been a lie.

He said he was wrong to say that I wasn’t showing him any support and that he knows we just have different approaches to medicine.

I’m not exactly sure how the disagreement happened and I’m not sure he is, either. But the important thing I guess is that he realized he was treating me unfairly.

He did also say that he wants to spend more time together, even if it’s just watching TV together for a couple hours a night. That’s something we used to do most nights before his cancer diagnosis that we haven’t really done since and I miss it, too. So maybe that will help.

He’s going to be getting a bonus next spring and he thinks we should travel with it, which I am all for. At first, he suggested Ecuador because I’ve mentioned it so often as a future destination. But I think Puerto Vallarta is a better destination, so I hope we can go there together.

I checked plane tickets tonight and they were only $400 each. 😳 I’ve read a lot of things about how Mexico is easier for expats to assimilate to than Ecuador. And that makes me feel a little excited.

I am so burned out that it’s not even funny. Between being responsible for most meals (Chloe’s promise of doing it once or twice a week hasn’t panned out and instead she maybe does it once every 2-3 weeks), washing the dishes, and scooping and changing the cat boxes, that is all stuff I’m doing now that J used to regularly help with.

But I’m also trying to manage all of Chloe’s appointments and referrals (plus getting her to them), all my own appointments and referrals, grocery shopping, returns and shipping stuff, taking care of vet visits, paying the bills, keeping up several times a day with how Dylan’s doing (more on that in a minute), plus working and trying to get more clients—it all just feels like a lot.

I tell myself that it’s not that much and minimize my own efforts. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have enough “spoons” but it really does feel like too much.

As for Dyl, J and I had a long phone call with him last night and I think (hope) it helped him. He’s still having a really tough time. He said that if just one factor was different—like he didn’t have to sleep on a loft bed or had a cat around, he might feel better. But he continues to feel miserable and the mama instinct in me wants to go get him right now.

I think I struck a chord with him and showed that I really get it when I said that lately I’ve been so busy that it feels like I don’t even have time to breathe, let alone do anything for myself that I enjoy. He really related to that.

As of right now, he is trying to make it through the semester and then he’ll decide from there, but he’s thinking he might not want to enroll for next semester. He wants a “gap year”—or even just a couple of months—to try to get his physical and mental health back in order and to decide where to go from there.

He’s discovered (unfortunately) that he has some pretty significant anxiety issues, as well as the stomach problems that everyone in J’s family and all our kids have (except for me.) I know that the stomach problems tend to be cyclical but as long as he’s under so much stress, they probably won’t completely go away.

Interestingly, though, I think he’s learned a very valuable lesson from this experience: money isn’t everything.

He’s on track to get a 6-figure job as soon as he graduates. But he also knows that if he does, he’s going to have this same kind of pressure and time commitment for the foreseeable future; it won’t end with graduation. And he’s realizing that maybe it’s too much for him to handle.

He always used to say that he wanted to make 6 figures, pay off his student loans as early as possible, save a lot of money, and then retire early. Now that he’s realizing what that would ask of him, he’s thinking it may be too much.

On the one hand, I feel kinda disappointed. He’s the only one of us who ever really had that kind of potential to do it.

But on the other hand, he’s still our kid and we’ve always taught him that there were more important things in life than money.

So I guess his future is kinda up in the air. I don’t know if he’ll come home and take a semester off, then live at home and go to one of the local universities (we have so many!) I admit, selfishly, that I would love to have him at home again. He’s such a great kid and I miss him.

I think the hardest thing is going to be convincing him not to be too hard on himself if he doesn’t stick it out. I think I’ll have some work to do in that regard.

But he thanked me for being so understanding about the fact that it doesn’t seem to be working out. And I was like of course. The entire rest of his life isn’t going to be determined by whether he stays there or not. I couldn’t stress that enough.

He’s a brilliant kid with a lot to offer and there’s more than one way to be successful.

The truth is

What is the truth, exactly? Right now, I’m feeling like I don’t know and that’s extremely unsettling for me.

Yesterday continued with more of the same as the day before in terms of talking with J. I have determined that talking about his cancer is no longer safe for me to do. If I question anything, he says I’m trying to kill him off (which obviously I’m not trying to do!)

He came pretty close to saying I already tried to kill him off when he went off chemo before. He said that he was trying it my way—which he wasn’t—and that the cancer came back anyway.

I wonder now if he has more suppressed anger and resentment towards me (and his mom, who is also suggesting some of the same things that I am, although she’s also pushing a lot more of the crackpot cures.) I apparently can’t be what he needs.

He also told me that I’m not really supporting him in general during his cancer treatment, which just absolutely gutted me. I don’t know what else I could be doing and he didn’t tell me, other than that he wants me to have more faith in the chemo.

He doesn’t want me to go with him to his chemo treatments. It also apparently wasn’t the right type of support when I left him a card before his last chemo treatment, in which I thanked him for trying so hard to stick around for us.

I try to get him foods and drinks that he can tolerate. I offer to cook for him, which he never takes me up on. I deal with the fact that we can’t hang out much anymore and can’t have sex like we used to. I just really don’t know what else to do.

He said I “don’t believe in science,” which was very hurtful. I’ve spent hours reading medical journals about his cancer. Even his oncologist asked me who I worked for because my questions for him were so far beyond those of most patients.

I can also understand it a bit, though, because I think science is only partially effective in treating cancer (and many other things, but especially cancer.) Cancer treatment in general doesn’t have the best survival rate, especially not his type of cancer. They haven’t really developed any new treatments for colon cancer since the 80s.

There is some missing link that explains why some people outlive their 5-year expiration dates and I want to figure out what it is, because I want him to be around longer. But he reacts very badly to any of those suggestions, so I’m not going to offer them anymore and let the chips fall where they may. That in itself is hard.

Maybe my mom was right when she told me I needed to be more of a cheerleader for him. But being blindly optimistic doesn’t come naturally to me at all.

The truth is that I’m scared. I’m scared of what is to come. I’m scared by the signs that he’s getting worse, even if he denies that any of his symptoms are caused by the chemo.

Although he’s still working—for which I am endlessly grateful—he has gotten noticeably worse in the past year.

He’s not the one who has to answer questions from the kids about what his new symptoms mean. I try to walk a very fine line between telling them the truth—as I’m always committed to doing—and keeping my fears out of it. That’s not an easy road to walk, given my anxiety, to say the least. But I am managing it as well as I can.

Meanwhile, my son is away at college and having a hard time. From my perspective, it’s almost certainly all stress and anxiety but I’m still encouraging him to pursue trying to get diagnoses from an allergist and a GI specialist, even though they will surely be out of network and therefore expensive.

I know that my son is really worried about his dad; he told me so. That’s perhaps the hardest thing of all: downplaying how bad things look to me so that he can focus on his studies. And I’m very scared about what will happen to his own career if my husband doesn’t make it until he graduates.

I can’t type out what my honest feelings are because it doesn’t feel safe anymore but I just think we’re already on the downward spiral. I hope that his scans in a couple of months will prove me wrong and that’s what I’m holding onto.

I just feel so fucking depressed and I can’t seem to snap out of it. I don’t know how to carry on as though everything is normal because it isn’t.

Meanwhile, I talked to my middle daughter today and she’s open to leaving the country with me once my husband is gone. And while that’s kind of a relief because I wouldn’t be alone and I like being around her, it also feels disloyal to be thinking about the “after.”

I realized that I am probably much better served by trying to leave the country than by going to graduate school and trying to be more successful here. That in itself is making me a little depressed, knowing that I’ll probably never get to do what I want to with my life.

I’m also scared of the idea of leaving the country but I’m more scared of trying to continue to live here. Things just seem to be getting worse and there’s no end in sight. I wish J could go with me; he makes the scary times feel less scary. I want to be thinking about a future with J.

I don’t know what will happen to my relationships with Dylan or Amy if I leave and that’s huge. I feel very torn between doing what I want to with my life, and trying to stay here, where things are getting worse but at least I can see the kids.

But really, the truth is that it all comes back to my husband telling me I’m not supporting him enough during chemo. I’m really doing the best that I can but somehow that’s not enough. I don’t even know what more I could be doing. I’ve given him all I know how to do, especially while trying to hold myself together (mostly unsuccessfully.)

But it hurts me deeply that he needs something more from me than I can give.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over this one. It’s one of those things that I am certain will haunt me for years to come, how I was still a failure when he needed me the most.

It seems like all the things I thought were great that characterized our relationship were actually just lies I told myself and that hurts a whole lot.

Unsettled

My future is completely unsettled and I don’t know what to do about it. Frankly, I’m freaking the fuck out over so many things right now.

On the one hand, I thought for sure that I’d want to go to grad school to become a therapist. Dreams of being able to support myself and have better healthcare than Medicare got me pretty carried away.

On the other hand, I’m not even sure that I want to stay in the US after J’s gone, in which case having a degree and US licensure would be worthless.

I’ve been feeling really down about the fact I had a great first interview for a counseling-adjacent EAP advocate on third shift and even though I was told I’d be referred for a second interview, I haven’t been. I’m most likely assuming that this is yet another job I just won’t get.

But maybe there’s like some guiding hand of the universe at work here and maybe I’m not getting hired because I’m not supposed to give up my disability.

I’m so, so mentally exhausted and overwhelmed. I can’t even get the work done that I have to do. For the first time in forever, I just left the dirty dishes in the kitchen last night. I also have a ton of stuff I want to list on eBay and again, I didn’t get that done either.

It’s like everything within me is rebelling against doing any real work. But I feel incredibly guilty because I know I do have productive, paying work to do.

I talked to my husband yesterday about what I wrote about wondering if he would consider taking a more holistic approach to healing. Not in terms of taking crockpot cures like Laetrile but like meditation, improving our diets, and getting more exercise.

He actually got mad at me. I can’t think of the last time that happened. Actually, yes I can, and it was many months ago. That time, I was clearly in the wrong and apologized.

He said that he wants me to be “on his side” in terms of what treatments he chooses. He also mentioned that his mom is taking a similar stance as I am. He just wants me to put all my faith in the medical community since that’s the way he’s chosen.

And honestly, that’s really tough for me—almost like asking me to be someone else. I do believe in mainstream medicine to a point; as an example, I got my flu shot yesterday (which I never did before he got cancer and I’m not sure I would now if he didn’t have cancer.)

I understand that he’s probably scared and wants to feel like someone supports his decisions. Which I do, in the sense of respecting his autonomy over himself.

But if I had cancer, particularly stage IV, having watched what chemo has done to him, I don’t think I would be as pro-chemo as I was before we began this journey.

He is getting sicker, just as I suspected he was, ever since his surgery last February. But what’s making him sicker is largely effects of the chemo itself. I just find that such a hard thing to be a cheerleader about. It very much seems like he’s trading quantity for quality of life and that makes me so incredibly sad.

Of course, if he embraced natural cures and they didn’t work either, I know he’d never forgive me and I wouldn’t forgive myself either.

So instead, I feel like I’m just watching the beginning of the downward slope and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

I hope he’ll survive long enough for Dyl to get through college, since he’s having such a tough time already.

Maybe it’s just reflective of a super bleak mental state on my part but I honestly don’t see that we’ll have too many good times ahead of us. It just seems like it shouldn’t have to be this way. But it is and I just have to try to accept it. Our lives are essentially over and he’s not even 50 yet.

But I still have many years left (I hope) and I don’t know what to do with them.

Stuff

I don’t know why but I’ve been thinking lately about trying to buy a house again. The prices have come down a bit and there aren’t as many bidding wars as there were a few months ago.

We still have the money from that erroneous tax return, which would be enough to qualify us for an FHA loan. I logged in to the IRS website and they don’t show any record of my amended return, which I submitted 8 months ago. They originally said it would take 4 months to process it so…I don’t know.

I know they’ll eventually figure it out and ask for that money back. It’s just so tempting to buy a house with it.

I know part of it is that I want stability, at a time when there isn’t much to be had. We are very lucky to have our current place with our current landlord. We have plenty of space and by now below-market rent.

And there are also two other important factors. One is that I really don’t think my landlord would kick us out if J was in the active process of dying from cancer. The other is that I don’t know what the future holds and if I’d want to stay here or would need to move to Dallas (though I suppose that’s less of a worry since the housing market here is so strong.)

On a related note (maybe), I’m realizing that I have to think more positively about my husband’s cancer. It’s hard to do because his chronic cough since February is most likely caused by the chemo.

I’m not sure what that means, to be honest. If the “bronchial thickening” in his lungs is making him cough constantly, will the chemo keep making the thickening get worse? Will it eventually be side effects of the chemo itself that leads to his death?

Ugh, I can’t think about this. He believes that if he quits taking chemo, he’ll die within 2 years.

I’m trying to focus my energies on an alternate reality, one in which he might not die that soon if he quits chemo. I would like to see what would happen if we overhauled our diets together and if he took some supplements—instead of chemo. But I would really need his buy-in on that and I don’t think I’ll get it.

But I’m also seeing the side effects of the chemo itself and I’m not so sure he would have more than a couple of years even if he stays on chemo. Of course, that’s assuming that the side effects like the bronchial thickening will continue to get worse. Maybe they won’t.

I just feel like maybe we could go all-in with natural treatments and he might have the same lifespan (or even longer.) The chemo seems like it’s less of a good thing now that it’s causing other health problems.

I just want him to have a good quality of life and it doesn’t seem like chemo is giving that to him. But ultimately, it’s his choice to make and I’m pretty sure he has more faith in the doctors than in his ability to heal himself. Nothing I can say will change that.

The son is back at college

I took Dylan back to college yesterday. It was a long day of driving—about 3 hours each way.

It wasn’t as much fun as it was when I brought him home the other day. Yesterday started out with tears and ended with tears. We had some fun in between but I could tell he was progressively getting more agitated the closer we got to school.

His stomach started acting up again the closer we got to campus, too. That really wasn’t fun because simply being in the car was making him nauseous.

I know he misses home a lot. I know he misses the cats. And most of all, I know J’s cancer diagnosis also weighs on him a great deal, more than he even says.

It’s so tough knowing what to do. I know that he really wants to succeed in college and I also know that he’s pushing himself really hard, too. I can see the struggle within him; it’s written all over his face and in his body language.

He was so relaxed at home. It was really nice getting to see the “old” Dylan back that I used to know.

He said today that he really needs me to give him encouragement to keep going, so that’s what I’m going to do.

In that regard, I really don’t want to be like my mom was when I was in school. Anytime I said I was struggling, she always told me I could drop out. I didn’t want to drop out though. I wanted—needed—some help, especially since I had 3 young kids at the time.

And I also wanted some encouragement that I could do it, even though it was hard. She never really gave me any; instead, she just offered that I could quit.

I would hate to think that Dylan feels the same way I did, so I’m making an effort to be more encouraging and be his cheerleader.

It’s tough because the stress of it all is really taking a toll on his physical and mental health. I want to rescue him from that because I’ve seen the long-term effects of what living with chronic stress has done to J. I don’t want another person I love to succumb to the same thing.

I can’t tell him to quit. But I honestly feel a bit like he’s playing with fire and maybe he doesn’t know it. He’s putting so much pressure on himself to succeed. And I know that he’s definitely capable of it but at what cost?

A good weekend

It’s been a good weekend having Dylan at home. Both last night and the night before, he came into my office to talk with me after J went to bed, just like he used to, and that was really good. It kinda proves that we’re still close, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it while he’s away at college.

My daughter and her boyfriend also came over for a visit last night and to see Dylan. That also went really well. They bought pizza for us from our favorite little mom-and-pop shop. My oldest daughter is really thriving and I’m so happy to see it.

I’m also happy that her boyfriend got a new car (well, new to him—it was actually passed down from his dad) and that means my daughter gets the Honda Civic her boyfriend was driving. I don’t know what kind of arrangements they made and if she has to pay him for it. I didn’t ask because it’s not my business.

But I have to admit that it makes me feel a lot more secure that she now has a car of her own. They’re going to go Monday to transfer the title into her name, which also makes me feel more secure about her. Having stuff in your own name is incredibly important.

I also talked a lot with Dylan about a lot of stuff. Like that he thinks he’s going to get a minor in communications, which I think is just brilliant since his major is in hard sciences. I think that combination will serve him well.

He also talked about another tattoo he wants to get soon and he just has to decide where on his body to get it. He wants to get Sakura flowers (in honor of my husband) and lilacs (in honor of me.) He wants to get the two kind of entwined, which I think is just beautiful and I’m really touched by it.

All my kids are doing well on the march toward adulthood and I’m so proud of all of them. Sometimes it’s hard and lonely but it’s difficult to be upset when I can see that they’re so clearly thriving.

Sleep soon

I’m going to sleep soon but I wanted to write this down so that I don’t forget.

Dylan told me that he’s been listening to Panic at the Disco’s first album a lot lately (which is musically out of character for him, but I share his view that it’s an exceptionally fun album.)

So today—after a very long drive down to pick him up and bring him home for the weekend—he’d already told me in great detail about the struggles of the past week. He also told me that college isn’t magically making him more charismatic and that it’s something he’ll have to try to develop.

We talked about lots of stuff and he took over control of the aux jack in my car to pick the music. He played a lot of stuff that he liked and just wanted me to hear, too.

Then, when we were about an hour from home, he put on that Panic at the Disco album. Because we both knew it and liked it, I turned it louder and we were singing along. I think that’s the first time we’ve ever done that.

It made me feel like all was right in my world again. We still have the same bond between us that we always have. And I’m so, so grateful for that. I feel like I’m a very lucky mom.

And screw my mom for saying Dylan’s “too close” to me. I’ll take it, thank you very much.

On their own

I got some meds from my oldest daughter tonight, so I had to drive up to Denton where she lives. It’s a little over 30 miles from where I live.

It was my first time visiting her. She still wants to invite us over more formally once she feels more settled and has her apartment more furnished.

Still, it was so great to see her again and see how much she’s thriving in her new environment. Her apartment is really cool (especially for a first apartment) and the location suits her very well.

Just as she told me, she lives very close to (like across the street) the Denton location of Spiral Diner, a local vegan eatery. She’s also right by the train station, so she can take public transit instead of driving. She also lives by a totally vegan grocery store and a totally vegan Mexican restaurant.

She was proud to show off where she lives and I was suitably impressed and told her so.

Tomorrow (err…I guess in a few hours) I’m going down to pick up Dylan from college and bring him home for the weekend. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again. I think he probably needs it, too, because he’s been struggling with his mental health again (or still.)

It’s really tough because he absolutely loves college but it’s also pretty terrible for his mental health. He’s under so much stress and it’s causing him a lot of physical symptoms.

It’s kinda funny because he usually tells my husband about all the good stuff at college and tells me about how much he’s struggling. I feel incredibly grateful that he trusts me enough to tell me about his struggles. But I also admit that I’m glad that he tells my husband what he likes about it, because otherwise I would go into full-on rescue mode (which isn’t a healthy tendency of mine.)

I don’t know what the future holds for him at college, to be honest. I don’t know if he’s going to go back next year or if he’s just going to try to get through this year and then take time off or transfer somewhere closer to home.

At least his arrival home for the weekend is an Event we’re all looking forward to. Even Amy and her boyfriend are planning on coming by on Saturday to see him.

In the back of my mind, my mom’s words still echo: maybe I’m too close to him and it’s making it harder for him to separate from me.

At the same time, though, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that he feels close to me. In fact, I’m very grateful for it—especially from a son.

But I admit that it’s been hard for me that he’s so far away, too. I miss talking to him. We only usually have brief text exchanges once a day and talk on the phone once a week. That’s a far cry from when he was coming into my office every night to talk about his worries and just to shoot the shit.

My role is different, too. I used to be able to talk about some of my worries (not in depth but just acknowledging them) but now I feel more like it’s my job to be strong for him.

I didn’t tell him about the last results of J’s CT scans, for example. They weren’t good and I figure it’s already hard enough for Dyl to be away.

I don’t know if that part of our relationship is gone forever or not but I miss it a lot.

In the meantime, I’ve been getting closer to Chloe and that’s a positive thing. But my relationship with Chloe is still different from my relationship with Dyl. Chloe is naturally more introverted and closed-off than Dylan is, so we just don’t get to talk as often as I talked with Dyl.

We’re all struggling with our own separate things now and there’s only so much I can do to help. I worry a lot about Dylan and hope he doesn’t become suicidal—that’s my worst fear of all the kids, because I know they all deal with occasional suicidal ideation (as I do, too.)

I can’t lose any of my kids and my husband. I just can’t. So each day, I say another prayer to the universe, asking to give them—and me—the strength to keep going.