In the past 9 weeks, since June 28th, I have put a little over 6,000 miles on my car. When you are the only local child that can drive to take care of parent issues, you tend to rack up the miles on your car when there is distance between you and the parents. Both my car and I are exhausted.
June 28th I drive down to meet my parents at the hospital to watch over Mom while she was in the hospital and help with recovery afterward. She never recovered. And then it was a flurry driving back and forth between Atlanta and the small southwest Georgia home where they lived. And every weekend, I have driven down to help sort things out. Every weekend but two.
My Dad wants to go down every weekend to fix things like burned out light bulbs, outlet covers and things like that. The house is for sale and he is convinced no one will buy the compound if one single light bulb is burned out or if they do not like the outlet covers.
So, when in this situation and absolutely exhausted and overwhelmed, how do you put your parent on restriction? How do I look at my Dad and say “Dad, I love you, but you are grounded. You are not allowed to leave town until there is actually a problem with the house”? Because I need a break. I need to be home for a weekend to do laundry, because I need to sort through Mom’s things that you have brought up here, because I need to sleep…because I just need to take a breath and NOT drive 1,000 miles in a weekend.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, part of the cure is to set firm boundaries so you can begin to get things under control. How does that work when it’s your parents, and they need things too? I guess it is the same as if he were a child. And that is what it feels like a bit. So how to go through and take care of myself and him and the boyfriend and the job and the house and the cooking and the cleaning and the looking for a new larger place and the everything else and still handle my own grief? I am tired just writing it.
Most of the time when life gets hard, my answer has been to put my head down and work hard and just do it – whatever it is that needs to be done. But the loss of a parent is very different. The very person I would call to inspire me, talk to me when exhausted and just give a kind word is gone. So what now?
I am not sure. I have found that being thrown out of my comfort zone also means not knowing a thing about what I am doing or how to do it. Sometimes you may just have to accept that fact that it is just going to be bad. It will be difficult, exhausting, hard, emotional and will push you too your limits. But no one said that life would be easy all of time. No one promised us a rose garden. And this is not where you will read how much the hard times will make you better. Because quite frankly, I am not sure how the death of a parent can make a person better. Once you have gone through it you can empathize with others in a way that you could not have before…but that is as optimistic as I can be.
So this is just going to be one of those hard times. This is going to be one of those times where it seems that nothing is working, nothing is moving forward, nothing is getting done, nothing is getting better. That I don’t even have time to do laundry, much less to things enjoyable like watch a favorite TV show. There really have been few moments to enjoy, because there is too much to do. This may be one of the times when you have to let the train run over you and pray you aren’t too messed up when it’s over.
And here I am. Dusty, tired, a little scraped up…but here.