My mom can barely create a full sentence that means anything that she means it to mean and she has been like this for months. Somehow she pulled out her longest, sharpest knife of a sentence and used it on me, stabbing me right in the heart. ‘I just don’t understand why we can’t live there with you, I just think it would be so much easier’. Twenty words put together with perfect sound, thought and skill. Able to make their way between my ribs and straight into my heart. Why can’t you tell me in a sentence if you are hungry? What you want to eat? or how your day was? Or if you ate lunch, dinner or took your medicine?
Mom, I am gone 12 hours a day when I’m at work. We have 3 big dogs that are guaranteed to make you fall down. Old people fall, break their bones, have to go into the hospital, get pneumonia/constipation/more confused then ever and sometimes die. All because of a simple fall. It’s completely selfish on my part because I don’t want to have to worry about that all the time so it’s easier to keep the distance where I know you will be safer.
The internal struggle of guilt and worry battling in my brain like knights jousting in my head. Who will win? When I visited the assisted living place, the man says ‘you won’t have to worry about anything, it’s all taken care of’. As I look around at the elderly people sitting in various places seeming dejected. The other assisted living place I went to seemed full of happy people that wanted to be there?! Oh but that was more of the independent living section of the facility. Smartly keeping me out of the ‘memory care’ areas while getting a tour…And it just seemed like the people that needed mid-level care (somewhere between assisted living and memory care) that were mixed in with the independent living people,my mind chose to see all the happy people and not look at the details of the ones that may not be so happy.
The worry is losing as the guilt of leaving them in a place that seems so hollow takes the lead.
Going home I try and figure out all the ways I can to balance the guilt and worry so they cancel each other out. We can pay someone to live with them in their home for as long as possible, feed them, drive them, do the daily chores. That could work. For a while. Then as the confusion and mental decline progress to incontinence, there will be a hill race where worry will be stronger and start passing guilt. Oh but we can hire a home health aid to come in and take care of the messiness of incontinence and care of cleanliness. Not sure how long this will work either? But for now I have it balanced well. The tide will come in and wash away my perfect foundation (that I have built in the sand, knowing it will fail) holding it all together and at some point worry will win and away we go to the horror of ‘memory care’, guilt having no say anymore. Although it is always possible my current plan will last till the end?
The truth is, life is pretty much at a standstill for the full experience as long at there is worry present. Guilt is livable. Worry is an ass. Some people (me included) find things to worry about, where the mind gets distracted doing something else but wants to find that worry spot to obsess over again and again. I find myself listing all the worries I have in my head so when I get to the one that is greatest I’m like ‘there it is’ and let it roll over in my head to where it is sufficiently still alive. I have work worries and people worries and personal worries. Yesterday Dennis asked me what I was thinking about (as we were eating ice creme…) and I said, all I am thinking about right now is eating this ice creme :0
That’s where my worry is going, causing me to actually develop a third emotional energy called ‘The chopper’…The chopper is a very sharp samurai sword that slashes worry and guilt into tiny little bits. Destroying those emotions to leave behind a sense of peace no matter what the moments bring. I am a professional worrier, if I didn’t worry about my patients and their outcomes, I probably shouldn’t do the job anymore. I will still worry (just like the grass will still grow…) but I won’t let it get out of hand and hopefully the chopper can keep up.
I don’t like not being present with the moment and that’s what worry does, takes away the present.
Here is to living in the moment (raising my coffee cup) and all the lessons we have to experience along the way to actually achieve that goal!