real life love

Love Is

Yes, I'm working on a new book. For more info, please head over to one of my long-favorite book blogs: For What It's Worth. Karen began blogging in late 2009 - around the same time I began writing Between the Lines - which I would eventually ask Karen to review. She's celebrating her sixth blogoversary this month, and she invited me to write a guest post about the five songs that shaped my five heroes. (I promise to be more forthcoming when I can! Such as: I've been sorting through recent photoshoot images that are so incredible I've narrowed the possibilities down to three dozen prospects. *sigh*)

For the moment, however, everything has taken a backseat to my family's needs. 

What I'm experiencing is not uncommon to those in my age group. We're not quite done caregiving our children when we're required to pick up caregiving our parents. This is the point where I'd quit a job if I could, but like most of my working peers, I can't afford to do that. I need my writing income as much as I need the emotional release of writing. I must fit my job around personal responsibilities that no one can do in my place.

My parents are gradually losing control of their independence, despite all three of us trying our best not to face it. Because it's hard. Because the role-reversal lands squarely between uncomfortable and this-feels-dead-wrong. Because there are no simple solutions to anything. Because there's no escaping the fact that this will someday be me, needing assistance.

Good thing about that last one, though - Golden Rule, anyone? If I found myself at the mercy of fears that seemed imaginary to everyone around me but were utterly real to me, would I want to be left in the care of strangers? Would I strive to make myself understood and feel the terrifying weight of frustration when I couldn't? Would I still need to be touched and loved? Would I want my daughter to give up because she was afraid she might fail?

My mother contracted C Diff approximately three months ago, but was misdiagnosed for weeks, during which time it ravaged her intestines, her heart, and finally her mental status. After diagnosis, everyone entering her ICU room had to suit up, and though I understood the need to stop the spread of the damned infection, I worried that being granted not one moment of skin-to-skin contact with anyone would make her feel untouchable and perhaps even unloved.

She's healing physically, we hope, but she isn't herself, and frankly, we don't know if she'll come back to us. We only know that right now, she's scared and ashamed and angry and humiliated by the procedures she's enduring and her inability to understand it all or have any power over it. Right now, she needs the support and reassurance of those who love her, even if she isn't fully aware of it.

Three years ago, my father began losing his sight. After nearly 80 years of enviable vision, he rapidly lost the ability to drive, watch television, or sit and read a book. His Parkinson's made anything requiring finger-driven motor skills nigh-impossible, so many otherwise accessible things were still inaccessible to him. Because blindness developed at an age when learning new things would be challenging at best, he acclimated by leaning on my mother to be his eyes.

What she sees or doesn't is no longer credible, at least for the time being. His mental competence fully intact, he is effectively more blinded by her illness. In her current state, she lashes out, and he frequently gets the brunt of it. Yet there is no bitterness in his heart.

I was raised to believe that love never fails, and as I sat watching my parents yesterday, my belief in the truth of that was fortified.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is my mother saying, "Don't leave me," and my father replying, "I won't, sweetheart," before I have no choice but to take him home to sleep so he can come back the next day and hold her hand.