“How are you?” she asked although before I even had time to answer I could hear her on the other end of the phone busying herself with cleaning up, making dinner, or perhaps multitasking and sending an email or scrolling her IG.
“I am drowning” I replied because I couldn’t even bring myself to try and attempt the usual FINE. I wasn’t fine and frankly, I was sick of saying and pretending I was.
The sigh of exasperation was audible. She was obviously looking for the standard FINE response. This one required effort and thought.
“ Oh darling, we all feel like we are drowning sometimes. You just need to rest. You should make yourself a nice cup of tea, or have a bath or a glass of wine, order something to eat, and get some sleep. It will make everything feel so much better.”
I wanted to scream. Will it really make everything better?
Will it remove the disease and the suffering and the pain? Will it show me what I need to know and help me make the decisions I need to make easier? Will it relieve the weight I am feeling the burden that I am carrying and the helplessness I feel? Will it remove the sadness the loneliness, the fear, and the sheer exhaustion I am feeling?
“Sounds like a good idea” was all I could muster.
I know she nor anyone else deserved the weight or the pendulum of my emotions.
They were mine and mine alone. How could I even begin to explain that I was on duty around the clock?
That a glass of wine would dull my senses or encourage me to sleep perhaps so soundly that I wouldn’t hear when I was needed.
That a bath isn’t relaxing when you are constantly listening for when you are needed and every little sound could lead to another catastrophe.
That I had lost count of the cups of tea I had made only to be left to turn cold because I had diaper changes, pain to manage, questions to try and decipher, or help to be given to someone that was no longer able to take care of themselves in any way, and could not even verbalize what they needed.
So as the conversation started to wind down and there were the usual platitudes extended of “if you need anything at all I’m here” offered, I went back to being on duty. Back to the role of caregiver, advocate, and decision-maker.
“And I’m still drowning.”