life stories

the center of the universe is the brain

Selfish Optimism

Two weeks. That’s how long I’ve been living in my mother’s life helping her transition home following a hip fracture. From day one I was counting the days to my departure. With seven days left I am grasping at the small signs of progress. Mom’s physical recovery is fantastic. She is strong and walks perfectly without assistance. But her stamina needs to be rebuilt. Her emotions however, are raw. She is depressed, frustrated and impatient.

I grasp at the smallest sign of progress. Some of them may be imagined. Today I felt elated when Mom made two phone calls. I can feel okay about leaving now.

Mom eats well. I can leave without guilt now.

Mom has friends. I can trust she’ll ask them for help.

Mom’s emotional agitation is exacerbated by my presence. I really shouldn’t be here.

Every day I face another round of negotiations with myself. The power of the argument for me to go home is getting stronger. Every video chat with my husband makes me long for him. The dog hears my voice and wonders where it’s coming from. He’s pretty sure Dad is a ventriloquist. The sense that my life is on hold keeps growing.

I could philosophize endlessly about the battle between self-imposed obligation and returning to my own life. In the end there is no clear right or wrong. There are not consequences to be weighed. My mother will get the care she needs from others if I leave. I will survive if I stay a while longer.

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