09 December 2009

Best Blog Challenge

The lovely Gwen Bell has issued a challenge about a challenge: write about something that challenged you this year and how you overcame it and why it was a good challenge.

Here I go.
No really.
I'm doing it any minute.

I don't like to think about challenges. I just want them to go away tra la. I am lazy like that.

I don't know if I have overcome this one yet or not.

Ok, I haven't. It is my continuing challenge, one that I deal with every single day.

I am challenged by not having my parents' precipitous decline into old age taint my world view. The pain and suffering and helplessness they face every day as their bodies and minds wear our are almost more than I can bear at times.

Their existential crisis has become my existential crisis. What's it all about, Alfie?

I try to keep my eyes wide open. To be helpful and kind and to not minimize or ignore their suffering because I hate seeing it so much.

Sometimes I pass and on many days I fail. I forget that they aren't who they used to be.

I snap at them, I'm sarcastic, I'm impatient, I run out of there just to get away for a while.

The temptation is to put up a wall - not against them so much but against feeling what is happening to them and letting the full horror wash over me. Because it is horrifying, it is scary, it is painful.

It is only when I can gather my inner strength, my hidden Toltec warrior, and just be there that it is all ok. If I can just breathe through it, remember to be right there, right then - that's when I can feel all the feelings and let the power of love tie us together instead of let the misunderstandings, pains and fear tear us apart.

So. That's not the most cheerful challenge on earth, but there it is. There is no tidy ending, no Oprah-episode "Aha" moment. Just life. I hope that's enough.


Anonymous said...

That's definitely enough. And, without the buffer of my mom, I hear a lot about old age and dying, too. My grandparents are hitting an age where it's a near-constant stream of death and illness. It's suffering. There is no Hallmark ending to life. Perhaps that's the ultimate challenge, not just the challenge of this decade.

Deb Rox said...

more than enough.

Elan Morgan said...


jeanne hewell-chambers said...

you write of a challenge i've lived with for more than a decade. my parents, my 3 childless great aunts, my in-laws. all reached a point where their lives revolved around illnesses (i swear they were disappointed if the doctor didn't want to see them for 6 months. i mean how sick can you be if you can make it 6 months between visits?). doctors' appointments become opportunities to try new restaurants (they'd invite friends, i kid you not). funerals became dress-up social outings. it was a challenge to juggle being upbeat and positive with empathy with frustration and sadness. glad you wrote about this and opened the door.

Anonymous said...

What Schmutzie said. Oof. Your honesty is appreciated. By me.

Anonymous said...

Good mind, good find........................................

meno said...

It is hard to watch, but i try to keep in mind 1.) it's harder to live and 2.) I'm up next.

goodwolve said...

It is totally enough - life is the little things. Enjoy them.

SUEB0B said...

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J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Wow. Life sure knows how to kick you in the gut sometimes, doesn't it? We're going through a bit of that around here right now, too. Though I don't write about it on my blog. And I'm sorry to say that sometimes, when life kicks me in the gut, I kick back, and act angry and pissy and mean. And I don't mean to. Not to those that I love.


Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Yeah. Wow. It is scary, isn't it?

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Kalyn Denny said...

I can definitely relate to this. Watching my dad decline to the point where half the time I don't know if he understands what's going on is one of the hardest things I've been though. And I have 9 brothers and sisters to help with it (although some live far away.) Kudos to you for your honesty, and for being there.

Suzanne said...

Yes, and you say it so beautifully. My parents aren't quite there yet, but seeing my grandmothers really fall apart this year was awful.

lagata said...

I nursed my mother to her death 5 years ago. It is something I will never regret and was honoured to do it. With that said, my mother was a very healthy 79 year old and very sharp minded. She got ill in April, turned 80 in June, and died in July. I don't know how I would have dealt with the slow aging/dying process. I think what Meno said really sums it up - it's harder to live and I'm up next.

I do hope that my children are as kind and gentle as you have been with your parents. You are a very good person and a wonderful daughter.

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