Caregiving Is Eternal

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This morning, I went for the 5 a.m. run with my group of girlfriends who have become my lifeline and support crew during the last several years caregiving, supportwhen I have been called on to care for my mother and father.

Right before leaving, I posted a daily inspiration on Facebook. I am a creature of habit and used to post inspiring quotes on daily column I wrote. The column is gone, but social networking is my new venue. Today’s message came to me during a dream I had in the middle of the night about my father. I wrote: “Why not? “That’s what my dad always said when presented with a challenge.  I usually quote famous folk, but today, I woke up with my dad on my mind and the memory of last summer, when even though he was tethered to IV’s and bedridden, he always said “Why not. Let’s do it.”

I left my house in the darkness with that thought and a smile on my face. One of my four friends who I train with has just returned from a trip to Michigan where her father has been very ill and was in ICU this week. She was going to make the trek from Illinois to Michigan tomorrow to see him again. We discussed how she wouldn’t be at our workout.

I tried to find the right words of comfort, but clamped down my own voice when I realized that the words I was trying to say to make her feel hopeful, sounded so false. My dad died in a similar circumstance, so anything I was saying seemed so fake. Intuitively, I shut up and ran ahead with one of the foursome, leaving my friend to find better comfort from our fourth friend whose mom just rallied from a scary stint in the hospital and is doing well. I figured she could be much more inspiring.

Instead of the usual boost I feel from the endorphins and the run, I came home feeling lethargic and sad. I tried to start the day with my dad’s promise “why not?” and yet, I was upset with myself that I couldn’t be more comforting and hopeful for my friend.

About an hour ago, two hours after our workout, the e-mail came. Her father passed this morning, during the time we were running. She is now in her car with her family heading to Michigan and sending me messages from her I-phone. And I am here, thinking that of all the people, I should have been the one to know what to say to her today.

I think of the question I started my day with “Why not?’ I think I now have a different meaning for that. “Why not?” Why didn’t I know what to say? Why not?”

Please share your thoughts and feelings here in this discussion.

--Mary Beth Sammons

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