It’s easier to sink than swim. That’s what they don’t tell you. But sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between sinking and floating stagnant.

Caregiving threw me from the stagnation I succumbed to. Suddenly, it wasn’t about me anymore. The focus was to get my mom better and once that was over, I could move on from there. Weeks turned into months, summer faded into fall, and I continued my care for her. Slowly I integrated different parts of her routine into mine, gladly pushing aside my own priorities. My relationship became a place for me to vent when the stress of caregiving became too much. I attended one semester of college, then stopped. We didn’t have a name for the disease for the first year or so that she progressed, so I just put out fires wherever I could until we could find something to point to, something to blame. If she can’t walk with her cane, get her a walker. If she takes a long time getting ready for bed by herself, help her to bed. As time went on, we continued to assist her through the decline. But the question was weighing heavily on us all. It was about a year after we knew my mom was really sick that her neurologist was finally comfortable with a diagnosis.

The reality was this: if I wanted to live my life, it would only become possible after my mother died. And losing my mother was not the price I wanted to pay.

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