Thirteen years ago, after buildings had fallen, our military headquarters smoldered, and a giant hole in the ground of Pennsylvania lay open, I took a time-out from the crisis atmosphere at work to call my mom. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one; I’m sure a great many Americans called their moms that day, probably a lot earlier than I was able. But I work for a company directly affected by 9/11 and so it was late afternoon by the time I was able to stop for a moment.
It took a while to get through, but when I finally did, despite everything, we sounded perfectly normal. “Hi. Are you okay? Isn’t this crazy?”
Who would have thought that such anger could exist to wreak such devastation and destruction on buildings filled with innocent civilians?
Who would have thought that thirteen years later, my mom would be so ravaged by Parkinson’s Disease and the onset of its accompanying dementia that I couldn’t reliably call on her to be my touchstone in a world gone mad?
This afternoon my mom is being released from rehab, three weeks after her stroke. She’s not physically ready to be released, and yet. Everyone is distraught, trying to find a solution to a largely unsolvable problem. No one wants to send her back home, back to an unhappy situation where she’ll be left unattended for large portions of the day. My mom refuses to go anywhere but home, to the place she’s spent 36 years of her life. She doesn’t care that she will be left alone with just the TV and a white board prepared by her home health care helper, reminding her what day it is, what she’s watching, what’s on schedule for the rest of the day. She doesn’t care that she might not be able to make it to the bathroom. She doesn’t care that she might not see her brothers and sisters (or daughters) as often, because they feel unwelcome. She wants to be home. And everyone in the family – my aunts and uncles, my sisters, myself – we all want her to want something better. Even if we don’t know what that is.
Crazy, isn’t it? I mean, not so much, but it is all the same.
Thirteen years later, a crisis of an entirely different nature, but it still feels like my buildings are falling down, my family headquarters is smoldering, and gaping holes are left. Coping feels just as difficult, the situation as unfathomable.
And yet. There are moments, for which I am so thankful, when I accept that things are the way they are. When I can connect with friends and see an entirely different side. Mum’s still here. She still has good days. Her stroke wasn’t worse. She has family who loves her. I have friends and family who love me. Thirteen years later and we’re still safe. Still fighting. Still living.
Living. Sometimes laughing. Putting one foot, one day, one more story in front of the other. Crazy, isn’t it?