The Beginning of the Final Decline

(The post below was written on January 13, 2020. My mom passed on April 4, 2020.)

Friday was a rough day.

My mom’s regular aide was out all week taking care of her own mom. The agency failed to send a replacement on Tuesday and Wednesday, so my dad was on his own. Since I had been sick with a stomach bug, he didn’t even tell me until after the fact because he knew I couldn’t help out. They sent a new aide on Thursday and Friday and although she did a good job, the hours were different, the routine was off, and the impact all of that had on my mom and dad showed.

My mom sat leaning severely to her left side with her mouth hanging open all day. She barely reacted to anything I said and there was nothing I could do to get her to smile. She didn’t eat much all day. She looked terrible, too.

My dad also looked terrible. He looked tired and stressed and completely overwhelmed. He looked old and broken. I could tell he felt broken, too.

Friday was a wake-up call. I feel like I’ve been living in a dream world. I’ve been naively thinking that we are getting by just fine. That we are maintaining and holding and plateauing in a way. Now I realize I was wrong. I don’t live with my mom and honestly, I don’t think I know the half of it.

Maybe Friday was just a bad day. Maybe it was just the aftermath of a bad week. Or maybe it is a sign of things to come. A sign of another decline. It’s hard to say. Either way it was a big wake-up call.

It’s time to re-evaluate and reassess what we’re doing here. We need a new game plan. I will once again put my life, my projects, and my goals on hold to do what needs to be done. This is the most important thing happening in my life right now and I need to treat it as such. It’s one of the main reasons I moved back home. It needs to be my priority.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t really want to do any of this. I don’t want this to be my life. But I also don’t want to have any regrets. I don’t want to leave any words unsaid, any acts of love undone. I’m not ready to say goodbye, but at the same time I’m ready for this journey to end.

So many of you commend me for being positive and finding the joy in this journey, but I want you all to know that I struggle just as much as you. Friday broke me. I sobbed in my car for a good ten minutes when I got home, until my husband came and got me. I’ve been down in the dumps all weekend because of one bad day. At first, I felt like a hypocrite for always talking about being grateful and finding the joy because these last few days I’ve done neither. But I’ve realized it doesn’t make me a hypocrite. It makes me human.

It’s a tough road. Just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, the bottom falls out. You can always go lower. It could always be worse. I’ll keep reminding myself of that on the dark days and someday I’ll find the light again.

Today I’ll pick up the pieces of my shattered heart and put them back together again. I’ll scrape myself off of what feels like rock bottom and I’ll try again. Because that’s what we do. We are nothing if not resilient.

Remember that.

January 10, 2020: It’s not pretty, but it’s real.

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