Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Another reminder that health is everything

Scene from a hospital
Montreal, QC
November 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
My father-in-law's journey took a turn for the worse this week. He's back in the ER with an infection of unknown origin, unable to fully relate to those around him. As I write this, we simply don't know what's going on, or what happens next. It's a frightening place to be.

As often as we've gone back to Montreal these past few months to be with him and support him as best we can, the realities of life - work, kids, responsibilities at home that don't disappear when we make an emergency run back to the hospital - make it impossible to be by his side 24/7/365. As we've learned so harshly throughout this chapter, there's no "right way" in any of this. Anything you do will feel inadequate, and you'll always be second-guessing yourself after the fact.

The sad truth of aging amid unpredictably declining health is you can't control the narrative. My accountant father-in-law, so firmly focused on every detail of his life for as long as I've known him, is now completely reliant on those around him. My teacher wife, so fiercely devoted to her parents for as long as I've known her, is unable to fix the unfixable. For all their accomplishments, devotion, sense of right and wrong, neither one of them is able to materially change his precarious situation.

Which leaves me uselessly on the perimeter, taking pictures whenever I can grab a moment, spilling words into empty screens, being there in case an extra set of hands is needed.

I'm under no illusion that these vignettes of mine are anything groundbreaking or helpful. But they've become my selfish way of coping with stuff that weighs so heavily on my shoulders that I'm not sure I can carry it.

Someday all we'll have are images, words, and memories. I hope that someday is far down the road, but I honestly have no way of knowing what comes next, or when. All I can hope is that I'm doing enough for now. That's a question for which there can never be a proper answer.

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1 comment:

Tabor said...

We all know that we are going to die. But we all hope that it happens like a light switch. Not painfully or with declining cognitive connection. I am so sorry as you are one of those who take this trip closely. May you and your family have peace soon.