It is early and my dad has called me for pain medication. I am awake now and pondering life and how damn hard it can be. I head to the kitchen to pour myself a cup of coffee knowing sleep for now has come to an end. I am sad about my dad’s frailty and often frustrated at his need for increased care. This was the man that made the world safe for me. He has been my rock and my anchor. It was my dad who looked in the closet at night making sure the boogie man was gone. He was the man who tucked me and my 20 dolls into bed at night. Now I watch as he navigates from his wheel chair enduring pain. I hate this part of life but know it is a necessary part that we all have to come to terms with. No matter how many retreats I do or books I read change is always hard.
It has been said that the only thing constant is change. Even when we think we are in the safety of stability there is always a wind around the corner to knock us off course and take us out of the world of our comfort. Nothing stays the same. It is during these times we must allow ourselves to feel our discomfort and grief. We accept the tears that come and allow the vulnerability. It is during these times that we must ask for help. We need community and those who love us. We need their unconditional care and support and we must be willing to offer it to others in time of need. It is during this time that I see the fragility and preciousness of life. I see and feel that now I do not have the luxury of wallowing in what ifs or regrets. It is now or never to live life and be at peace with what may come.
There are times when I wonder if I am doing enough, if I am doing too much or if what I am doing is even appreciated. I think of my own life and wonder how I will age, how will I meet the change when I can no longer maneuver at the speed of lightening? How will I speak to those caring for me? Will my frustration get the best of me? I wonder how I will feel about all of the worrying I did that amounted to nothing. I think about what kind of legacy I will leave and how I will accept my aging body. We live in a world where youth and beauty are to be sought forever. We live in a world where we put our aged folks in nursing homes sequestering them from the rest of an active society. We forget the great wisdom that comes with aging. We forget that the elderly are some of our most valued assets. We do everything in our power to fight the onslaught of age with hopes that we too will remain forever beautiful. One day we look in the mirror and we realize the fight was all for naught as we realize that yes we have become old.
We must call upon our compassion as we navigate the road of aging for ourselves and our loved ones. Two days ago, I overheard my dad speaking with one of his caregivers. When she asked how he was, he briefly responded “I am doing OK. I was just born too early.”