Exactly 3 years ago, I had made the easiest & toughest decision of my life: I left my jobs in the entertainment industry in NYC and moved back home to Pennsylvania to become a full-time primary caregiver for my mother after she was diagnosed with a recurrence of uterine cancer that had spread to her lungs. At that point, she was in the house by herself after recently losing her husband, my dad, to brain cancer. For 2 1/2 years, mom and I pretty much never left one another's sides...she helped me just as much as I helped her.
It is tricky to define the term "caregiver" since everyone defines it differently, but for me it meant being here with mom 24/7. I rarely left the house aside from getting groceries or medicine because mom truly was my #1 priority and especially since mom was increasingly more handicapped & immobile at certain times during these last few years. We did everything together and I made it a point to include her in every aspect of my life. Mom always enjoyed spending time and chatting with my sister & brother and their families and her own siblings during this time as well.
The time I had with her was the most enjoyable time of my life, but also quite frankly, the most challenging and trying time of my life. Everyone has their own battles to fight and for me I chose one that was going to be complete when "mom was better for me to be able to move out".
Never in a million years did I think I would be back home living with mom when she passed. Last summer was especially unique. I knew what it meant to live with mom in our house and being in that confined space with her all day, but last summer I spent literally every single day with her sitting & sleeping alongside her in the hospital and later a rehab facility...in a singular room. It actually mirrors what the world is doing right now with this global virus situation. But it allowed my creativity to grow and flourish even more as I daily brought my cheer in the forms of banners and crafts and costumes and songs and everything in between! And it also encouraged mom to do the same!
Mom and I talked every day ALL DAY, and we also included dad (in heaven) in some conversations to bring an extra comfort to us both. We often talked about what we were going to do when things all got better and mom got out of the hospital. Sadly, that time didn't come but it DID NOT stop us from playing "The Glad Game" EVERY SINGLE DAY! We always found something to be glad about, and her daily strength & positivity gave me so much strength. We were such a great team!
I wanted to honor this anniversary with my joy as I sit here, in mom and dad's house, and smile knowing they are both safe & together in heaven. And it is my prayer that whomever reads this post, that you also continue to remain safe and sane. For me, it has been a trying few months since her passing because for the first time I am living by myself without a roommate and even now more alone after their dog was recently adopted by a family & left my care.
So what's next for me? Well Condoleezza Rice says that, “Life is full of surprises and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns in the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure-do it well, enjoy it-and then, not now, think about what comes next.”
I will continue to embrace life’s surprises and serendipity. And I will continue to realize that I am exactly in the right place where I need to be right now.
And I most definitely will continue to smile. 💜💛🙏😊