Or, everybody sees you're blown apart and everyone feels the wind blow, dude.
Editor’s Note: I wrote this 2 years ago and just re-read it. It captures the fallout of realizing that you are truly alone in a caregiving journey. -Lucinda Koza
For the first time in my life, I can feel myself aging.
I can feel the heavy weight of tragedy, of hardship, of something there is no answer for, drag me down slowly, slowly, further, further, more slumping, more drooping, less laughter, less ease, less ... ease.
This is the first time I've felt smarter than my parents and more brave than my siblings. It's the first time I haven't had much of anyone to look up to. Paul Simon sang, 'Who'll be my role model, now that my role model is gone?'
This resonates with me like an enormous earthquake, but not simply because my father is not my father anymore. It resonates because there isn't a single person I look upon that I see as more brave than I am. This is not a good feeling.
This leaves me feeling like a martyr. As a teenager or even a child, I liked being smarter or more emotionally intelligent or more talented than other kids around. I was always impressing somebody and, especially, I did always feel like I was impressing my father, my mother, and, my brother. My older brother, whom I always thought was smarter, stronger, funnier, cooler. Ahead of me. I spent most of my time trying to make him laugh; living for those times when we understood each other almost like we were twins, like we had shared the womb. We had the same sense of humor, similar sensibilities, and we shared the same circumstances—the bizarre and unique way we came up, seeking humor as an outlet from the obvious tension of divorcing parents. Not to mention the times he protected me from creepy people.
Now, he can't protect me. He can barely approach the significance of what is happening to our father. He sees that I'm there, living in it, and it's almost like when he looks at me, he sees that he could meet me there, but he can't, and he doesn't, and he won't and he's not, and he knows he will have to, but he's completely powerless over himself, and the realization of just how short he is truly falling of meeting me there is absolutely paralyzing to him. It's like when I know there's something I have to do but I don't do it and I procrastinate and procrastinate until the very last moment, and by then I've made it impossible for myself to actually do the thing. That's a micro-metaphor for what is happening to him. He sees that he is procrastinating accepting reality, doing anything to help my dad, doing anything to help me, and the act of acknowledging the procrastination to himself doesn't do anything but further paralyze him—and deep down he knows he won't ever do anything. It will be too late.
There is nothing I can do to stop this. I have tried, and been met with everything ranging from apathy to vitriol. That is what is so hard about this 'my role model is gone,' is that, all I can do is accept it. Or, take it. And keep going. Live with it. Every day. Which only makes me more of a martyr to the outsider—'she's doing this all by herself. Her brother used to be her best friend.' But that doesn't get me anything, perhaps it scares people so much, they don't dare go near it.
My mother, she lacks any true empathy for me, and she absolves herself of any mothering, therefore throwing her hands up in defeat: "I'm not involved." The ultimate act of cowardice, to not teach your son how to handle his father's decline.
Yet, there is not one "adult" I know who can truly confront this, and so everyone I look upon appears so weak to me, so ill-equipped. Some kind of malaise takes over, and I no longer have the vigor with which I took hold of my father's situation. So now I traipse through all acts with defeat. I am defeated, because there is no longer anyone to admire. Except my husband. And my father, for doing what he can, and working so hard to get so much better. But, still, I am not met where I am. There is no comfort, no balm in Gilead. And I'm heavy, too heavy to carry myself, much less myself and my father.
"I said losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you're blown apart. Everybody feels the wind blow."