photo by Amy Hodges
I love the water. I always have. As a child, I never had a fear of water. I have always felt connected to and restored by water. It's no coincidence that most of my life I have lived within a few miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Do you know the feeling of walking along the shoreline? Walking in an inch of water as it washes up on the beach? That is an amazing feeling. So many splash fights start there because it's just too tempting to run your foot or your hand across that water and watch it spray droplets of salt water all over whichever lucky person happens to be closest. Between that magic skimming water and being in water deep enough to swim is water that's hard to walk through. From just over your knees until almost your waist is water that slows you down. The water drags you, slows you and you're tempted to just dive under the next wave, but you know it isn't quite deep enough yet. I feel like I've been walking through that water.
We have had a rough summer. Dad injured his one good knee making him a near shut-in. Mom is in great health, but not young, and not capable of taking care of my dad on her own. We moved next door to them a few years ago, looking towards a time they might need help and not knowing how soon it would be. I am grateful to be so close physically and emotionally but that does come with a price. I have never been more aware that my parents will not be with me forever. We spent several years celebrating all the new lives in our families. It's a blessing welcoming babies and watching them grow. As much as it's a blessing to welcome new lives, it's also a blessing to walk with someone on their way out. I know that sounds so dark, so imminent, so permanent. I hope that I have years and years left to laugh and cry with Dad. Dad is going to get better, but he isn't going to be the same. He is going to face continuing challenges. His life is very different now. And so is mine.
One of my great challenges is making sure I'm not sacrificing what my family needs for Mom and Dad. I have a husband and two children who need me to be emotionally available to them. I can't use up every bit of energy and leave none for them. Sometimes I have a great balance and it does feel like I'm skipping along the shore. Today I don't feel I have any balance. The shallows and the depth elude me and I'm stuck walking through this water. I know the tide will change. I know it will get easier and it will get harder. I know I just have to keep walking.
I watched my mother struggle with balancing family needs and nursing her mother with cancer when I was in 9th grade and I'm ashamed today that I felt she wasn't giving US enough. Today, having lost both of my parents a few years ago, I would give almost anything to have those later years with them to heap love and care on them and show them how much we love and honor them through some sacrifices.
It's a hard road to walk. But I'm sure that pouring love out on everyone in your family is never the wrong answer. Love and serve them while you have and you can't be wrong.
Thoughts and prayers with you and your family.
Amy, I'm an only child and I'm blessed to still have my parents when so many of my peers have lost theirs, but your post explains some of my deepest fears and now I will look at the shoreline much differently. I love the imagery you've painted. I need to slow down.
Thank you, Jamie! I agree that pouring out love is never the wrong answer...
Thank you Rajean! It's so hard to slow down when everything is moving so quickly around us! I'm just remembering to breathe.
What a beautiful post. I helped my dad in his final moments a few years back and I was so thankful for being a part of that and being there for him. It was so difficult at the time, but now I see that moment in time as a time filled with love and devotion.
I am now the only one here for my mom, which is proving more difficult. She can't drive and relies on me for everything. I have to keep reminding myself of what you said here and that it's a blessing to help her and be there for her. It's finding that balance between your own needs, your families' and your parents.
Thank you again for this post!
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