We had our annual family camping trip last weekend. We had been planning this for a month or so, even though half of the family couldn't come because of work and other obligations. (Sometimes it feels like herding cats trying to accommodate everyone's busy schedules.) We were getting excited about going when we had word that one of David's aunts passed away following a long illness. We didn't know what the funeral plans were until Thursday afternoon, which was when we had planned to leave for the mountains. The upset about the funeral plus the stress of packing for a trip sent David into a manic episode, but we finally left Thursday evening. By Friday noon, the mountains had worked their calming magic for him, and we ended up having a good time. He loves being in the mountains, finding serenity in the beautiful scenery. That is where he is at his relaxed best.
Three of our daughters, their families, and David's ex, Bette, joined us Friday afternoon. Bette has joined us on a number of camping trips over the years, and we enjoy being with her. She has been great at helping me to understand David, and on occasion we have been known to "gang up" on him to get him to behave.
We were at Lily Lake in the Uintah Mountains, much to 3-year-old Lily's delight. David taught the 5 grandchildren who were there how to fish, and gave them some poles without hooks to practice casting out into the lake. We also hiked around the small lake, and relaxed. The kids had fun running around, playing hide and seek, building a fort, and having "smarshmallows" in the evening. The weather even cooperated. This was Lily's first real camping trip, and she had a great time observing all that was going on and keeping up with the bigger kids. Watching the kids have such a good time made all the effort and stress involved worth it.
The dogs were also in heaven running through the long grass near the lake. By the time we left they were so tired they could hardly move. But they were happy.
On Monday David and I spent the day with his mother driving to her sister's funeral, and then taking some time to locate and visit family grave sites. The weather was pleasant, and the funeral very moving and thought-provoking. I have been thinking of my own mother's passing lately, and the speakers reminded me of important and soothing truths about the purpose of this life. I realized again that family members past and present are an important part of who we are and that we best honor them by the way we live our lives.
David did well through the funeral and the drive home, but the last two days have been difficult for him. He slipped into depression, thinking about all the possible "what ifs." One of the reasons for this latest sadness is that it is the 2-year anniversary of his father's passing from Alzheimer's. He does tell me about how he's feeling, but I worry about his lack of energy and wonder how long this cycle will last.
When he was manic while preparing for the camping trip I was also stressed, and decided to try some deep breathing for a few minutes. While it didn't work miracles, it did help me relax a bit and focus on what needed to be done. We go through pre-trip mania every time we go somewhere, and even though I know it's going to happen, it's still frustrating and nerve-wracking. Even though camping is a lot of work, I still enjoy going.
I was so pleased and excited when I came home to see that this blog had been nominated for an award! I started this as part of a class assignment when I took a blogging class 2 years ago and discovered that it helps to write down what is happening and share some coping skills that I have learned along the way. I'm delighted that others find it helpful, too.