We became empty-nesters this year when our youngest daughter, Katie, married her long-time boyfriend, Kevin, in May. In October, we added another granddaughter, Kylee, to the family. Sailor son, Jeff, was deployed to the Persian Gulf in August. He will be finished with his Navy enlistment next month and will be home soon. Soldier Brian graduated from college and was commissioned an officer in the Army. His twin, Ben, finished up his Master's Degree, and applied the credits to start his phD in nuclear engineering. On the same day that Brian graduated, I also graduated after five years of schooling with a degree in Mass Communication. I loved the experience, but I'm glad to be done with the pressure of homework and finals.
We soon discovered that there were some things we enjoy about being empty-nesters. We like being able to take short trips by ourselves, and had fun going to southern Utah twice this year, as well as some fishing trips nearby. We had never lived together by ourselves because we both had three children when we married. Somewhat to our surprise, we find we are glad for the change.
David felt well enough to work on projects around the house for the first time in three years, including our roofing experience and working on his hot rod. We learned that in order for him to work on a project he needs to focus on one thing at a time. And when he starts to feel overwhelmed and confused, to sit down and rest for awhile. He had a few episodes of hypomania and worked all night on something, but he learned to force himself to take breaks and rest. In addition to the hot rod and the roof, he put in pavers for the parking strip and added a screened-porch that we enjoyed through the fall. (This year we'll add glass windows so we can enjoy it year round.)
He had several bad bouts of depression and mania when he ran away from home, but we slowly have learned how to better cope with it. I'm learning to let him take responsibility for himself, and offer encouragement and support. I've also learned to leave him alone sometimes when he needs space. I was able to go home twice this year, once for my stepmother's funeral and then again at Christmas. It was so helpful to get away for a few days from the routine. And, for the most part, David did all right on his own.
One of the best things about this year has been keeping this blog about our adventure in bipolar land, and becoming acquainted with friends who offer understanding and support. It makes a big difference in how I cope with David's ongoing illness.
What will 2010 bring? Who knows? But I'm grateful for friends and family who bring such joy to my life and an abiding faith in a loving Heavenly Father who never fails to provide comfort and guidance when I need it.