For two weeks after my dad’s accident I lived at a hospital. Well, not 24/7, but mom and I spent upwards to 10 hours there everyday. My mom has been there almost an additional week beyond me. I had to return to work this week. I’m happy to say that my dad is being transferred to an inpatient traumatic brain injury rehabilitation program today, so the hospital vigil will officially end for my mom. I’m encouraging her to get some much-needed rest and not spend her every waking hour at the rehab with dad.
Like I said in my last post my perspective changed while spending every day in the hospital. I hesitate to say my life became simpler given the seriousness of my dad’s injuries, but in a way life did become simpler. My entire focus was on being an advocate of my dad’s care and support person for my mom. Of course, I had to make sure all my responsibilities were being handled at home and at work, but once that was settled I could put all my energy into that main focus.
For the first time in a long time I felt I had a purpose, an important one, and that I was very needed by someone. Yes, at times it was exhausting (still recovering from that) and my emotions were on a crazy roller-coaster (still recovering from that too). On particularly bad days there were times I called my husband and virtually cried on his shoulder, but most of the time I surprised myself at how totally in control, assertive and stable I was in the midst of a traumatic and life-changing time for my family.
While I’m definitely ready for this situation to be behind us I’m already missing that time when my life seemed to have real purpose. Coming back to real life (the rat race) where my life purpose seems a little ambiguous has been more difficult than expected. I felt whole and complete caring for my parents which is actually going to be an ongoing task with new dynamics depending on how well my dad recovers from his brain injury. Trying to manage this from 2-1/2 hours away may prove to be more challenging than I’m equipped for, but as with the acute care of my dad I just have to rely on the Lord to make a way and give me management skills and the emotional/physical fortitude that I don’t possess at the moment.
Again, the situation has prompted me to question many things in life, and there are no simple answers. Things were happening prior to my accident that already had me questioning whether or not I was going to remain where I am much longer (I’m being vague here, because, you know, it’s the internet). I’ve felt for several years that I’m being pulled in too many directions, stretched too thin, and the last few weeks has amplified the feeling that I need to simplify life and focus on family more.
Honestly, I have no idea what that looks like or how it is to happen, so I’m giving it to God. If He truly wants this for me he’ll make a way. I’ve often said that the upside of not having children is that I will be more available for mine and my hubby’s aging parents. In some ways that’s true, but because of life and the reality that bills still have to paid it makes the the execution of this very challenging.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through all of this is don’t take your family for granted. While I know that losing my parents is inevitable (unless I go before them) I kept telling myself, “They probably have at least 10 good years left”. Life is so fragile. It took spending a week in a neuro-trauma ICU waiting room to realize just how unpredictable and fragile life is.