The In-Between


: a state or position that is in the middle between two other things : a middle position Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Transitions are excruciating. Sitting. Waiting. Seemingly stuck in the current place and longing for the next. Dr. McEnroe said, at our visit last week, that the antidepressant has begun to work. It’s difficult for me to see, being that I’m currently mired in the muck. He upped the Brintellix from 10 mg to 15 mg for a week, and then on to 20 mg, which begins this evening.

“You want a remarkable transformation,” he said.

“I do. It doesn’t seem right that it should be as slow-going climbing out of the pit as it was climbing in, given the meds are supposed to give me a bit of a push,” I answered. “Then again, I had a bit of a push going in, given my family.”

I suspect he saw my smartassity as a hopeful sign.

Besides being in between depressed and not depressed (or less depressed), there are larger transitions taking place. In fact, I suspect these transitions are, in part, the cause of the depressive episode. There’s the much-desired transition between practicing law and not practicing law. Leaving the suffocating profession behind for (hopefully) a more creative life. And then there is the transition between my mother being alive and not being alive.

My mother was in the hospital for the third time this year (or maybe it was the fourth, I lose count) from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving until the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. She received IV antibiotics (Vancomycin) for MRSA, a staph infection resistant to most antibiotics. The following Friday, three days after she was released back to her assisted living, she was back in the hospital. This time, they kept her only two nights for “observation” and more antibiotics, and she was back at her assisted living, and her cat, by Sunday evening. With any luck, mom will steer clear of the hospital through Christmas. An “in-between” Christmas that my mom and I will spend at my ex-sister-in-law’s (ironically, the ex-sister-in-law who was the subject of my sister’s verbal vomit at Thanksgiving), while my sister spends hers in Dallas with her daughters and grandchild.

In-between. I don’t like this place. These half-Christmases. This half-life. Wanting to move out of this place and into the next phase of my life. It’s a difficult thing to acknowledge. That I find this in-between place, caused in part by my obligations to my mother, undesirable. A daughter is supposed to embrace this remaining time. Cherish every moment. But, in truth, I feel ambivalent. Each time she’s admitted to the hospital with a new infection, I brace myself. Is this it? Is this the one? And when it’s not, I feel relief. And also, anxiety. How long will this go on? How many more years of my life will I exist in this state of suspension? When do I get to start making my own Christmases? I know when she’s gone, I’ll look back on this ambivalence with horror. I’ll realize fully that these in-between Christmases are “my Christmases.”

And I’ll wish I had just a few more years of “in-between.”


  • I hear you. One never feels entirely living one’s own life with other people dominating one’s behaviour – as during Christmas. But you know – this too, will pass. You will see one day that your mother never had her own Christmas, either …
    That is just the fact – we will never lead a life completely independent from other people – and we can only depend on other people if we allow them to depend back on us … You might feel you could do without colleagues, boss, family – but you still need friends. Cats are no replacement for human contact. We all need other people. Just in different intensities.

    When I am off work (and we have 6 weeks off each year) I can go for days, even a week without talking to anyone. But I still need the knowledge that my sister is just a phone-call away, my friends will come around on the 27th for some board games, my colleagues will stand in for me while I am on holiday.
    So I bite the bullet that Christmas is a compromise between the way I love it (spent mostly reading) and my sister being here and having to cook for her (I like cooking) and washing up and getting her out of bed (because my living room is just cramped when the sofa is turned into a bed and I cannot sit on the sofa with my FunTom) …
    I bite the bullet that I have to plan beforehand to be able to entertain my guests on the 27th, as shops are closed since 24th midday. I hate planning. So much can go wrong.
    I bite the bullet to be the one answering the phone on the 30th – when everybody else is gone and I am alone in my office.
    That is how being human works. Even when it feels bothersome.


    • My post did not articulate very well what I was getting at. I’m at this in-between state between how Christmases (and Thanksgiving) used to be when my father and brothers were alive, and now with just my mother. (My sister has done her own thing for years.) When my mom is gone, I’ll be creating new traditions and making Christmases in my own home. Something I’ve never done. For now, I’ve been trying to come up with things to do for my mother near her assisted living that she’ll enjoy. It’s been difficult on us both since it’s so different. And a bit lonely. We made the shift from a full house (with my father, brothers, and their kids) to an empty house practically overnight. But we will make the best of it and I’ll enjoy my time with her.

      Liked by 2 people

  • I had a reasonably healthy relationship with my mother, although not without issues (whose isn’t?). The last year or so of her life were painful for everyone as she had gone blind, had broken her foot so was in a wheelchair, and could no longer enjoy all the things that had kept her interested and engaged in life. Inevitably, even though she was in a nursing home and had been for a decade, she became more needy, often with requests we couldn’t solve. When she died – she was 93 -my first reaction was relief – not just for her, but for me as well. I had my life back. You may well feel the same way. Don’t let anyone (including yourself) tell you that you should feel guilty about that feeling of relief. It’s natural.


    • That’s the hard part: she doesn’t seem to enjoy much of anything. She has her television and her cat. She’s becoming more and more immobile, favoring the wheelchair more than the walker, and can no longer read. She’s stopped joining the activities, including bingo, which she loved. I suspect the Alzheimer’s has made it difficult to do the things she used to enjoy. And since her last hospitalization, she’s been having more difficulty communicating; finding words. I am becoming more anxious about what lies ahead. So yes, I do understand how we can feel relief. Thank you for your support, Marian. This transition is rough.


      • Yes, it is. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. At some point I just had to accept – with both my parents – that it was still their choice not to try, not to participate, but to cocoon themselves and wait for the end. Sometimes all we can do is talk, remembering good things if we can, and hold their hands. Just remember to take care of yourself, too.


  • Transition is indeed difficult. I’ve long fantasized about moving to a place like Mexico, cheap, tropical, and full of color, since my early twenties. By 2007, when I met F, my erstwhile Mexican BF, Mexico became the specific locus of such fantasies. In 2012 when I left my job, the fantasy became possible, but then that summer, F and I broke up, which took away some of the reason and urgency. Now we are on the brink of 2016, and where am I? Still in Boston, still indecisive. I’ve taken to telling people I am “working up the nerve to move to Mexico.” I think that’s closer to the truth than I’d probably really like to admit. Part of me is scared of moving away from the familiar, comfortable, and known. And my job was like that too. The financial crisis was pure hell, and the succeeding years remained difficult. It was extraordinarily difficult to go. But finally I did.

    Caring for an ailing parent is probably one of the tougher things out there because one’s feelings are so mixed. You clearly love your mother, but you’re an adult and need your own life too. And the glimmers of a new life, twinkling off in the distance at once possible, yet still off a ways, has got to be difficult. Yet your mother is in her own transition too, and she will go at her own pace.

    As a stock trader, I’ve come to call the current period the “Waiting for Godot” market. We seem to endlessly churn at levels first achieved around October 2014, yet don’t go down much nor break higher. It’s a tough place to try to make money, yet it’s hard to tear myself away.

    To me that seems somewhat analogous to your situation. But unlike in the play, Godot will eventually arrive, and then things will change quickly.

    So hang in there, girl. You will make it. Before you know it, the drugs will kick in and then the future will seem brighter and more concrete.


    Kim G
    Vallejo, CA
    Where we are with our longest-standing friend (since ’74) and realizing we are all transitioning rapidly to another stage of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that I’ve read the Wiki entry on Waiting for Godot, I can reply. Yes, unlike the play, my Godot eventually will show. The trick is to live in the present and stop focusing on waiting for him to arrive. Which is a bit difficult, given all the twinkling. (Don’t even get me started on this market.) As for your nerve, your purchase of the one-way ticket is a giant leap forward. I dare say, Kim, your fantasy will become your reality. Twinkle twinkle.

      Liked by 1 person

  • You know, you’ve given me a break-through! The “in-betweens” are…. life. That’s where the magic happens. Because magic can only happen in the present. Not the past. Not the future. The trick is realizing that’s it’s magic…

    Whatever is happening on your side of the world, Ella, I wish you a Magical Holiday! ❤


Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s