Love is all that matters

The look on his face continues to haunt me today.

I see in my mind what I witnessed yesterday—my dad struggling to walk , his hands gripped tight to his walker, his legs shaking, and his eyes finding mine across the room, his right eye open wider than his left, piercing mine with its intensity. I interpret the expression on his face as one of desperation and terror.

Has his conscious woken up and found him in this condition? I wonder.

“It’s okay,” I say. “You’re doing alright.”

“I’m proud of you, Daddy.”

And I am proud of him. Of every mountain he has to climb just to drag his uncooperative body from the bed, to sit and stand, to walk a few shaky steps across the room to his wheelchair. I am proud of how hard he tries and how he keeps going when he may want to just give up. I would want to give up.

I’m struggling with Dad’s situation more than usual. I think it started with the phone call on Father’s Day.  “What did you say that made him cry?” Mom wants to know.

“Hello,” I answered. “I told him Hello.”

Or maybe it was the breakfast we picked up on the Saturday before Father’s Day and all the memories that flooded me as I waited in Dad’s favorite breakfast restaurant where we had waited together so many times.

Today I have to make peace again knowing that there is nothing I can do to help him out of his misery, out of this nightmare he’s living.

Here in my study, I listen to beautiful music and look out at the sun that sparkles off of leaves fluttering on the trees.

I have to make peace with my dad’s situation and with myself. It is the only way to go on.

I feel like I am cutting a painful tooth, a kernel of wisdom about to erupt. And I realize that love is what matters.

Love is all that matters.

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32 thoughts on “Love is all that matters”

    1. It does swamp me from time to time. I’ve had a particularly difficult week this week. I feel for all those people who have to watch loved ones suffer with cancer, or aids, or any number of illnesses that lead to death after much suffering. This more than anything makes me question the existence of a compassionate God. Why does the end of life have to be so difficult?

      1. and yet there is grace to be found, in small increments, in small moments of your Father’s smile. At the end, love is all there is. Perhaps that is the lesson. A sad and painful one for sure. I watched my best friend’s husband die of ALS and it is heartbreaking. Some questions have no answers and I guess, at some point, we have to learn to be okay with that. I think of you often and send prayers for gentleness and grace to flow over you and through you.

    1. It’s sort of flows in and out. I’ve had a difficult week. Not sure why. It started off with bad news from Mom that the home health aide who’s been there from the beginning, Paula, is leaving to take an administrative job. It’s a very good move for her, and I’m happy for her, but we all have come to rely on her knowledge, expertise, and experience with Dad. I know it will all work out okay.

      I’ve realized that my mood depends largely on my mother’s. When she’s doing okay, I feel better. When she’s struggling, or in a panic, it carries over to me. When I talked to her yesterday afternoon she was really struggling. I called again last night and she was doing better. So I don’t feel as doom and gloom today. It’s rough.

    1. It is hard for me. I don’t usually spare my readers that. Partly I share what I do because I know I am not alone in this struggle, many others have gone through it before us, are going through it right now, or will go through it later. That’s part of the reason I share as much as I do: to give voice to all.

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I’ll take all the hugs I can get. I’m feeling a bit better today. I explained more about what is going on in my response to Julia.

  1. Writing is amazing like that. Once we pour out our feelings onto paper (or computer screen), we realize we’re a bit lighter. Hugs, I’m proud of you and your family.

  2. Christine–a very touching post. Love is all that matters.It helps to remember that when things get tough. I just took care of my 93 & 91-year old in-laws (one of whom has Alzheimer’s), and I tried to put myself in their shoes, their minds. Love is what helps us carry on. It’s amazing how much patience stores we have because of the love. Hang tough!

    1. I think putting ourselves in their minds is really important to the extent that is possible, but it also can be really difficult and depressing when thinking about our own future. Bless your heart for taking care of them. Showering the elderly with love and compassion is a wonderful thing to do. Many times it is the only significant thing we can do.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I always wonder when I post something like this. But I do it because I believe I express what a lot of people feel. Hope all is well.

  3. Very poignant, Christine, and in different ways, people are relating to it.

    This is something I’m struggling with. Some years back my brother died of cancer, and now one of his sons has it. There’s nothing the doctors can do but make him comfortable.

    1. Oh no. What a terrible, terrible thing. I’m so sorry. Truly.

      I wish I had something I could say to make you feel better, but there is really nothing. This is something about life that is a difficult lesson to learn. I’m not sure I’ll ever grasp it.

      Your story, like so many others, has the power to both make me question a God who would allowed such things to happen, and at the same time turn to a God for peace.

      Thinking of you.

  4. Love is all that matters. Echoing what everyone has said. “I told him hello.” Simple words. Perhaps his heart just broke with feeling love for you inside him, and he couldn’t express it… Just a thought… This was very powerful.

    1. I do think that his tears are sometimes an expression of love. His doctor was visiting yesterday and he said that normally we are hard-wired to smile, laugh, or show the appropriate emotion without having to think about it. When the wires get crossed, sometimes an emotion will go to the wrong place and we will exhibit the wrong expression. So even though he might want to laugh, he might actually cry. I have no way of knowing.

    1. Thanks Marion. You said it well. It is hard to let go. It is also hard to watch him suffer, and to watch my mom struggle. It’s a tough situation.

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