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Monday, November 11, 2013

When She's Gone

Every day my mother seems thinner, fuzzier, and less able to do for herself. I’m terrified her final day is officially on the calendar. She is too. Will she leave me next month? Next year? We don’t dare speak it, yet the fear of death is a tempest over her sickbed.

Still, I think she’s ready to go. The love of her life has already waited four years to see her again. And she feels like shit. Constant nausea and an uncooperative brain ravage her waking hours. Her twig-like legs won’t obey, choosing instead to arbitrarily jut out from under her or remain defiantly stationary.

Lately she’s been asking what things of hers we want so she can remember us in her will. We refuse to shop through her possessions. Besides, what I really want is my old mom—and life—back.

One day she was living independently, and I spent hours writing. The next day, she fell and suddenly needed constant care and supervision. She says I’ve become the parent and she the child. I secretly, shamefully resent this staggering responsibility as characters in my now-neglected novel become strangers to me.

When she’s gone, I’ll hate myself for getting irritated when she needed “just one more thing.” Will I forgive myself for pouting about ruined plans and sleeping on the couch outside her bedroom? Probably not.

Her new wheelchair helps … when she remembers to use it. I worry another fall could do her in. She’s hit her head so many times there’s a quarter-sized cavity in her scalp. I can flush out the pus and change the dressing without retching now.

When she’s gone, the vacant bed will chastise me for grumbling about driving her to thrice-weekly doctor appointments. Her arsenal of pills (that didn’t do enough) will deride me for each time I impatiently repeated myself for her waning ears.

Every day I pray for strength to be the daughter she deserves so I can live with myself when she’s gone.

#
This week's Trifecta Writing Challenge: The entry must be 33-333 words and include the word "remember" as defined below:

REMEMBER
a :  to keep in mind for attention or consideration <remembers friends at Christmas>

b :  REWARD <was remembered in the will>
Word count: 333

29 comments:

  1. This is such a touching post in so many ways, Ivy! Beautiful and lucid as ever, is your writing. Wonderful use of the prompt, you always take me to different destinations through your stories :)

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    1. Thank you, TIZ! Coming from such a talented writer, that is quite a compliment. :)

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  2. That last line is a perfect summation. There are so many emotions when caring for a sick loved one (and guilt is definitely one of them.)

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    1. Thank you, Janna! Yes, there is definitely a range of emotions in this situation.

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  3. Painful to read. I think this is a parent's worst fear, becoming a burden to their children. And even in love, it would be hard to handle it all with grace and a smile.

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    1. You're so right, Mel. I know my mother hates burdening me but she's also thankful for my help. The smiles are hard to come by some days, but I wouldn't think of not being here for her.

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  4. I can relate to your story so well. I was primary care take for both my parents. While my dad was in the hospital for two months before he died and died there, my mom died at home. It was hard but I am so glad I did that for both of them.

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    1. Kathy, I'm so sorry you've gone through this twice. I'm sure it was difficult for you, but your parents were so blessed to have you there.

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  5. This truly is painful to read, but beautifully crafted

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    1. Thank you, Susan! It was painful to write, but I guess I needed to get it out.

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  6. wonderful last line and I love the strength in this

    congrats on your silver medal this week, well deserved

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    1. I love that you read strength in this because this situation has definitely revealed some of my weaknesses. But hopefully I'm getting stronger, better able to handle this for me and my mom.

      Lance, thank you so much for the thoughtful comment and continued support!

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  7. I appreciate all the little details about this care-taking relationship. Well done, Ivy!

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  8. This is a very honest self-assessment. I wonder if I will be patient with an ailing parent when the time comes.

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    1. It's tough to admit how difficult and just plain frustrating this is, especially in a mere 333 words. The role reversal is hard to get used to. Very hard.

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  9. Oh Ivy.
    so honest and this peek inside your daily, in and out of life, is painful for me as your friend to read. I know how hard this must be ...to be patient, to be present, to not have resentment at the heart of it.
    Any of us would struggle with that emotion.

    Your last line , you need not worry my friend, you are already the daughter she needs in this moment.
    Love you Ivy. xo

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    1. Thank you, dearest! I really needed to "hear" that.

      I'm so glad I'm here for my mom, but I can't lie--this is hard on us both. I'm under qualified and understaffed. But, as the cliché says, I'm taking it day by day.

      Thank you for the wonderful words of encouragement. XOXO

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  10. Such a powerful last line. You shared the terrifying combination of mixed emotions so well, thank you for sharing it with us.

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    1. Thank you for the lovely comment, Annabelle!

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  11. Such an honest, soulful piece. This is one of the hardest things to do. When the relief you are striving for means the death of the one you're caring for, there is no good place to be.
    Peace, and strength, Ivy. And wrap yourself in love. And do this. ({})

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    1. Kymm, that's it exactly. I am overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated and scared. But this beats the alternative: my mom not being here.

      Thank you for the heartfelt comment, my friend.

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  12. My dear, sweet Ivy. Sometimes I think the grumbling and secret resentment is part of the process in helping us in letting go of a loved one. I think it's natural, and normal, but I know it doesn't make the resulting guilt any easier to bear. You are in an impossibly hard situation and I wish you were close by. I'd wrap you in a hug and tell you that you are the daughter your mother deserves. You love her. In the end, that's what counts:) (I will keep you next to my heart, my friend.) xx

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    1. Oh, Valerie! Thank you so much for the sweet words. Your compassion and support means more than I can possibly express. If you don't mind, I will gladly take a virtual hug!

      Thank you for the reassurance, my dear friend. I so needed that! <3

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  13. This is beautiful and brutal writing, but so honest I think everyone reading will want to jump into the screen and give you strength through hugging. Although there is guilt and sadness the one feeling that will always be there is love. Run with it. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. When I saw the prompt, the words flowed out of me. But then I had a few minutes of panic before linking up. This is very honest and I know it doesn't put me in the most flattering light. I'd like to be the daughter who does everything without pissing and moaning, but some days it just isn't possible.

      Thank you so much for the kind words and support!

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  14. Pray your mom gets back the strength. This is the period of uncertainty and confusion and it is natural.

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    1. Kalpana, thank you for the prayers and the reminder that what I'm feeling is normal. :)

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  15. Ivy,while I was reading this,I was so hoping it was fiction but that was not to be!I could relate to this as I have been there-only difference is that you are able to "see" it-I could not-but after she was no more,the guilt ate me from within-for 3 months I was unable to face myself-let go and I lost sleep,appetite -everything .It was terribly hard for me to accept that I had not been a good daughter and though the world lauded me for being there for both my parents(my Dad followed her after a mere 15 months )in their last few years,but I knew it was not true-I felt like a hypocrite-it still rankles after 4 years and I wish that I could have been more empathetic ,more giving,more understanding but it is too late now.I hope and pray that God gives you the strength to be there for your mom and I will pray that she goes quickly and peacefully-I know how tough it is for a caregiver-it drains you from within-sending you lots of positive vibes and love((hugs))

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