As I tidied up in my living room this morning, I shifted a piece of my creativity, a tiny collage which I carefully placed between two rectangular pieces of glass, bound together by a frame of metallic tape. The collage consists very simply of small photos of Italian and New England scenes, captioned by a strip cut from a magazine which says "In Between Realities". Art mirroring life. My life. Now and maybe then. I held the piece in my hand before re-positioning it on the marble table and allowed myself to start a flood of thoughts.
My family's life has been in turmoil for the past six months. My mother, the bravest person I know, began her last journey midway through December when it was agreed that the cancers she's been fighting so valiantly for so many years had started to show signs of victory. It wasn't long after yet another attempt to fight, this time with strong beams of radiation, that she and I met our newest partner, Reality. We tried to stave it off, kept hoping that things might turn around and allowed ourselves to only skim the surfaces in our conversations but all the while, we knew the Reality. Her doctor assured her that her only fear, that of a painful death, would not become a Reality, that he would do all that he could to keep her pain free when that time came and so teams of incredible Hospice professionals were dispatched and they joined us on the journey. I became the leader of the crusade, the flag bearer. My role was to deal all the while with the reality and keep the troops moving, ahead of the enemy, Pain.
The months went by. The job got tougher. My father, who seemingly does not deal with Reality, sat on the sidelines, his frustration evident most of the time. I was not only leading the charge for Mom, but I was at the same time dealing with another reality, my ninety year old father who, as if in a textbook, allowed hia default emotion of anger to dictate my moods and actions. Countless hours were spent responding to his panic, explaining his "bad" behavior to the angelic people who came to his home to care for his wife, my mother. I can't recall how many times I told care-givers that he wasn't a "bad" person, he simply did not know how to do it any other way, he did not want to and truly could not, deal with what he had his whole life denied would ever happen and yes, while it made it so difficult for all of us, it wasn't going to change. It was my Reality. It was I who had to deal with it, with the assistance of my husband and brother and support of our children. But, the Reality was and still is, they have their own busy lives. It was my job, assigned to me by who knows? I balked at the enormity of it, I resisted, I bemoaned my role as the "IT" person. I had no problem letting my own emotions flow out like lava from a volcano. I regret now that I was all too vocal in front of my dear mother and on occasion, let her know that I was angry with never having been asked if I wanted the role, if I were up to it. How could I not assume that role. That was my Reality.