The Unknown Journey
I have been caring for my mother for the past 9 years. It’s been a roller coaster ride filled with joy, frustration, love and a closeness I could have never had, had I not spent these years with her.
As she transitions into a care home tomorrow , I’m left starting over. My future unknown and a wide open road in front of me. Where will my steps take me?
I left my corporate retail job that I had been in for 12 years back in 2006 to care for her when she had a stroke. The first 5 years I helped my dad with her until he passed in 2012. Then I took full care of her, till now.
I, a single gay man with no reponsibilities like children, a mortgage or life partner, I was pretty selfish. I was centered around myself, my world and that’s all that mattered to me. So to be thrust into this situation where I had to care for someone else and God forbid put their needs above my own was daunting.
Through the years caring for her, my mother taught me to be patient, to be kind towards others, be more sympathetic and that the world would not crumble if I put others before me.
As I lay next to her on this last night together, I can’t help but wonder how I’ll be. Will I miss her constant yelling at imaginary people from the past, calling me by my dad’s name, her tantrums when she gets frustrated that I can’t understand why she names everything Big Mac, or those very brief moments when the fog in her brain lifts and for just a moment a sign of clarity and we laugh out loud together cause she’s being her old silly self.
I know she’s not dead or passing but, she’s all I knew for 9 years or so, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s a constant that will be gone out of my daily life, my routine.
How will I feel when I wake up that morning without her there? Not Hearing her voice in the morning letting me know she’s a wake with a song of expletives? What will my day be like? All of that free time?
I wonder what’s ahead for me? I know she’s in good hands but am I? Who’s hands will I be in? Am I going to be ok? At the age of 39, my friends have already stable lives with kids and a career. I’ll be like a 20 something looking to start their future.
The unknown can be terrifying and unsure. We all cling to what we know because we are secure and safe in the familiar. It takes courage to jump out of a plane not knowing if you’ll land safely and I’m there, staring out the open plane door the wind whipping my face. I’m looking down with thoughts about not doing it. My heart is pounding in my chest as my breath shortens. What the hell was I thinking?
You see it was my choice to move my mom. That decision was mine alone. I didn’t take it lightly, In fact it’s taken me 6 months on and off debating about it with myself. The one thing I knew was that she needed to be somewhere where she’s cared for properly and she has the help she needs that I can no longer give her.
So I could still change my mind but that would put her at risk and I would be selfish to not let her go.
My fears are being delt with constantly but they are a bunch of sneaky little a holes. It’s been trying to plant it’s seed in my head but I won’t let it. The “what if’s” and the “are you sure” all try to dig through to my mind. I just repeat my declarations and hunker down in mindfulness when it starts to get out of hand.
The journey is new and frightening but I know I can do it. How many people do you know have another chance to create a new life, new purpose and experiences? I do and it’s me. I don’t take it lightly. I know this is a huge gift. I may not be as young but that just means I’m returning to a game that I have played before with experience under my belt. The same mistakes made in youth won’t affect me this time around.
I have no plan , I have no road map. I’m using my anxiety as a fuel for my excitement for the journey. I kiss her forehead goodnight and know deeply that she’ll be ok.
So I’m off! Where to I don’t know, but I know it’s going to be amazing. See you around the trails.