ďJune, can you get me some tea?Ē
Mid-sentence. She always calls me mid-sentence. It drives me nuts.
ďWith maybe a little lemon?Ē
I push the chair back from my computer and head downstairs. Honestly, itís hard enough trying to write without the constant interruptions. Iíve come to realize that Iíll never succeed with her here.
Not that I ever would have, anyway.
I put the water on and get out a couple of cups. I slice the lemon.
My mother appears at the door, naked from the waist up.
ďI came to help with the tea. I donít want to be a bother.Ē
ďMom, you have to put on some clothes.Ē
She checks her wardrobe. ďOhÖyouíre right.Ē
Having my mother move in was the only option. There wasnít money for a nursing home, and her dementia was getting worse by the day. But itís a little ironic.
This isnít why I quit my job.
My husband, Henry, says that God knows what heís doing, and I suppose heís right. Still, Iím disappointed.
There was a time when I thought I had a calling, an actual calling from God. I was to become a writer. We prayed about it and everything. It felt so certain, so true. I quit my job and turned a bedroom into an office. And I worked. I worked hard.
But I didnít succeed.
Then my mother moved in.
All my friends in the choir say this was probably Godís plan all along; isnít it great?
Honestly? No, it isnít. It feels like bait and switch to me.
I bring our cups of tea upstairs.
Honestly...? We never got along, anyway.
We sit and talk.
ďHow about a game of Scrabble?Ē
The weeks have become months and the months are becoming years.
Henry says to keep the faith, but his words ring hollow. Heís not home with her all day. Even on the rare occasions that I do try to write, it never lasts. Iíll hear the door slam shut and I have to look for her again.
Iíve almost given up altogether.
Iím a perfectionist at heart. Unfortunately, I was a less than perfect writer and an equally poor caregiver. Iíd become short with my mother and angry, too often. Even Henry noticed. It wasnít right. I couldnít be dedicated to both. I chose my mother. She became my priority.
It probably was Godís plan all along.
We play Scrabble till five and then I start dinner.
At midnight, Iím back at my desk, trying yet again, while my husband and mother sleep. The truth of the matter is that I canít quit; I canít. I somehow donít have it in me.
Nighttime is the only time I can concentrate, the only time I can write, uninterrupted. And yet I hear a bump and realize mom must be up. Reluctantly, I once again push my chair back from the computer.
Then I hear a series of bumps.
I donít hear a scream until I find her, at the bottom of the stairs.
After the funeral, my friends tell me what a blessing it was that I was home, able to spend time with her these last years. See, they say, God knew what he was doing all along. They ask if Iíll be going back to work soon.
I do thank the Lord for the time I had with her. But no, I wonít be going back to work.
I walk the halls at night alone, missing her. Iíve given away her clothes and put the Scrabble game in my closet, but I still feel her presence. I cry every day.
My calling, Iíve closed for the duration.
I never expected this.
Yet a hunger stirs inside me, a need. And itís building.
My fingers are growing restless with resentment and thereís a sharpening in my soul. Anguish consumes my heart and my mourningís turned a blazing white hot within me.
Itís coming. I can feel it coming.
My spirit explodes into a dazzling array of unexpected emotions.
I glance at my keyboard.
My thoughts run hot, then cold, ice cold. My mindís a bitter precision.
I canít keep it in much longer.
Ecstasy crystallizes my nerves. My life-force leaks despair.
I sit at my computer and words come pouring out.
Henry eyes me warily as my world lurches and soars, but I ride it for all itís worth.
And finally, finally, it occurs to me.
Maybe He knows what heís doing, after all.
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