During the decade I took care of my parents full time, my goal was simple. I wanted to give them one more good day.
I achieved this pretty well, I think. They both made it to 89, and for my father, that was fifteen years longer than any of his siblings. My father thought his last Saturday night on earth was “Great!” and my mother ate less than twenty four hours before she died, feeling safe and cared for.
When I think back on year since they died, though, it doesn’t feel the same for me.
It’s hard to remember even good day in this limbo. I remember lots of bad ones, though, like when I found out that my mother’s wishes for me went unfilled, as this house that won’t be mine broke down around me thanks in part to the way my sister treated it — the kitchen sink has been unusable for weeks now — and how I have had to live on a shoestring, scraping by on scant resources.
I have done my part to work the process, but the costs of putting my life on hold to do the work of the family really have shown the damage to my own capabilities, from my health to my connections.
Often, I would tell my sister as I struggled to give more than my all, “Take care of yourself. One of us has to make it out of here alive, and it’s not going to be me.”
I worked hard to give my parents one more good day, and I did that for over a decade.
For me, though, good days seem impossible to find and even more impossible to imagine. Where do I feel safe and seen and valued and respected and cared for? Where is my one more good day, the one where I feel loved?
Maybe it’s just the limits of my vision, the extent of my damage that keep me from finding what I need.
But maybe that’s enough to keep me down forever.