That fine line between compassion and selfishness is a big blur these days.  Decisions about euthanasia or terminal illness graphically illustrate the lack of clarity between wanting contentment and quality of life for the ill and not being able to watch them suffer without suffering myself.  Fortunately, this is true of my family situations, not my client experiences.  And, fortunately, my client strength bleeds into and sustains me in family sadnesses. 

As I watch Mother fade in and out of life, failing rapidly, continuing to breathe with awareness of what is happening to her, I go from solid, loving support to abject distress – for her, I think.  Really, it is for me too.  Thank goodness Mother’s memory loss keeps her from carrying the indignities of  living in long-term care into the moment.  Her disappointment for right now is only immediate, although it repeats itself frequently.

This is my Mother.  She is the Mother who has been my best friend for 45 years.  She is the caregiver who took care of Daddy until her massive stroke last year, yet worried about him as he declined toward his body’s demise three months ago.  She is the homemaker who, just this time last year, at age 90, was washing double-hung windows and storms outdoors from a ten-foot ladder, soaking up the cool air and pleasure of clean glass.  She wanted to work, to be independent, until she died.  Perhaps she died as the clots raced through her clean, healthy arteries and piled up where her memory center kept her in touch with the beauty of former years.  She was the backbone of her church women’s group, the community help program, a philanthropic helping young people get to college.  And she was the best friend ever – always listening, sometimes gripeing, ever calling to say, ‘how did your ___ go yesterday?’ 

And she is still who she is.

Am I hurting for her or me?



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