Someone very close to me is going through a very difficult time. I am seeing things through a whole new perspective-through her. As a mother, I am given such high regards for the position that I hold. Making a choice to be a “stay at home” mom or to be a full time working mom is most often supported, either way, in public settings. As a mother, it is understood, when we need to take a sick day, either from work or from friends, to care for a little one who’s feeling under the weather. It is also understood, when we need to take a break to accept a phone call from school or from the child themselves. When we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders as we worry about what preschool our child should attend, or how we are going to make it home in time to make a healthy dinner, we are supported, understood, and often praised. Even taking a moment in the middle of the day to break down in tears from the stress of it all-we are not judged. For this I am happy. However, there is another point in our lives, where this same support should still exist, but because of the times of transition, it just isn’t so.
This, is the end of life caregiver. I am watching as this woman that I love, I will call her Dee, has learned that her mother’s time will be coming to an end on this earth (she is elderly, but I see the correlation with those who are terminally ill as well). I have stepped up, to the best of my ability, to provide support and love, but I am finding that I am seeing such inadequacies prior to this time. Dee often calls me, to check on how I am doing, how my children are, and is a sounding board when I am making decisions about their day to day care. I did not, however, provide the same support to her. Dee has been the primary care giver for her ailing mother for the past 10 years. Every morning, her first task was to check on her mother’s well-being. Not so different from daycare, Dee has been tasked to find and provide the best living environment, with the highest quality staff to watch and care for her. Just as I, miss opportunities to go out with my friends for a late night dinner because my child is under the weather, she misses traveling to a talent show out of town, because her mother is ill. She is responsible for ensuring that there is food and nourishment, that she is clean, has the opportunity to shop and get her hair fixed and that her place of living is clean and safe. See the similarity?
She doesn’t, however, get the support and cheers from the world about how amazing she is and she certainly does not get the support and understanding for the weight of the world that also resides on her shoulders. She doesn’t get the support and understanding that she not only works full time, but is a full time caregiver and needs the same support. She does not always get the calls of encouragement, or the checking in and sounding board, that I am now seeing she would need. After all, I need it in my caregiver status. I am stepping in now. I realize it now. I see it. So my only choice is to do what I can do now.
I am also looking at her situation, Dee as she loses her mommy, and I can’t help but think of my own. Dee has been given a timeline. An opportunity for her to say everything she wanted to say, an opportunity to say goodbye. I did not get this. I have the guilt of things unsaid. Does that mean that it’s better to know? I am not so sure. Dee is starting the grieving process all her own. Yes her mother is still here, but she has her moments feeling this grief and reacts just the same as I did, when I lost my mom. Maybe only weeks or months, but still, that is extra time of sadness that certainly affects her life. It is even more challenging, as her mother is elderly and in these last moments, is not of sane mind. So everything that she is saying to her mother, the most important things, her mother may not be getting. These words are only for her. I do hope they provide her comfort. I am sure that somewhere her mother is hearing it, just as I am sure my mother does on the other side.
I am sending my support to those end of life caregivers in the world, especially my Dee. What strength you have, what energy. I am amazed by you and I hope to do better for those in the future who may need me. I will call more, lend more support, and cheer them on as they walk the difficult journey. Cheers..