Saturday, July 9, 2016

Rabbit Holes

Today, I was talking with my oldest friend, The Elfin One, and she asked how my mom and stepfather are doing. He is the one to whom I've alluded a time or two, who has for some years now been slowly dying. A part of this has been deterioration of his cognition. ... and my mom has endured a chronic, profound disruption of her sleep patterns, as he loses track of time completely. The result is she's not quite the woman of stunning recall I have always been used to her being.

TEO asked me whether this is stress or some reflection of an organic problem. I think it's the sleep issues, the fear and unceasing demands. But it's so easy to forget ... that she forgets. With my stepfather, we've grown used to his lapses.

Last week, she came to my house and thought she had never seen the painting I did in my upstairs bathroom ... six months ago or more.

My mom is fully down the rabbit hole with my stepfather. And honestly, she's getting a little rabbity.

The next question is, "Diane, how are you?"

My response to this tends to be some combination of bewilderment and dismissiveness. I'm *aware* this is hard on me too, but I'm much more aware how much easier it is for me than it is for my mom. There's a tendency to push off sympathy so people will spend it, and their prayers, on my mom instead.

Not with TEO. With my oldest, best friend, I can be honest (with my brother too). And I realized where I stand.

I'm like standing guard at the entrance to the rabbit hole.

G-d has been especially kind to me of late. A few months ago, it was stress helping them do their taxes, and for the past few months I've been doing all I can to be not only on call if they need me, but also to just spend time as much as I can. To be an escape valve and a social distraction that is NOT demanding for them.

There's been a lot of social distraction for them lately - family, after family, after family - and my mom is incapable of not *hosting* her family. So for some weeks, as much as we LOVE them, visit after visit has had her fretting over what to cook, had her shopping, had her squiring loved ones around, had her socially "on" in a way that alone can be demanding. As someone who's lived alone for the bulk of my adult life, over twenty years now, I know how exhausting joy can be. Simply smiling all day - it is a pleasure to be with people, but I come home absolutely shot, and aching for my solitude, my home, the furbabies.

For me, there's been a lot of work distraction lately. Three solid weeks now of quite HIGH productivity - prep for our annual meeting, onboarding an exec I've been waiting for over a year and half, and this past week has been an apple pie hubbub. Multitasking extraordiaire.

I'm the lucky one: I'm not down in that rabbit hole, my world is still the real world. I get to sleep normally. And I have a job with the most extreme level of satisfaction I have ever enjoyed - which is saying something very significant.

So now my own question.

How do you hope your mom can have a life like that - productive, healthy, stimulating ... knowing what has to come for her to have that?


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