In search of story



I have been in a place of real horror. It’s somewhere inside me. It stops me from writing. Even emailing has become too much of a challenge.

It isn’t any want of words. It’s that there are too many words. Too many images. Too many feelings, questions. I cannot latch on to a one of them. It is impossible to think a thought from beginning to middle, let alone from beginning to end. Let alone write it! There’s a dam there. And the water keeps rising and swirling, gathering into itself ever more words. And images. And thoughts. But it can’t go anywhere.




This isn’t a first, and therefore I think it will pass, but meanwhile I am miserable. Writing is a tool for survival, and so when I can’t write I wonder if I will crumple.

My wise writing mates taught me that writing paralysis can be a sign of evasion. What am I evading? What am I trying not to write about? Do I know? Do I know that I know? How deep will this infested water be by the time I find that one twig to yank and bring down the dam?

My writing mates are, I think, pointing the way to that twig. Shirah, with her newly-finished and compelling word portrait, and Tamara, with this morning’s blog post about writing. Both speaking, as writers, to life, the alpha dam.

In the writing of these few words, I’ve had to get up and pace many times. Something in me is trying to stop this measly trickle.


The thanks

My younger son lives about twenty miles away. He just graduated from college and is working 70-80-hour weeks. He’s weary. Even young healthy people need sleep. But he comes. He eats Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital with us. He gives up his New Year’s Eve to be with me at home because I can’t get an aide and he knows I am afraid of Dad at night. He listens to me, sees what I see.

My older son is in California, light years away. He calls and he listens. He emails. He makes me laugh.

My brother also in California. He listens in emails, supports me with thoughtful feedback. Never criticizing, never second-guessing.

My dear friend Dorothy lets me vent. The only friend I have who knows about caregiving, she listens and vents back. Daily she saves me with her empathy and humor as we email frustrations and absurdities.

My dear friend Sandy leaves a message: “Just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you.” No “call me back.” No requirement from me at all. The message of a listener.

My dear friend Mary Jo stands by for anything. I’m out of chocolate-covered raisins and Doritos; she brings them. She gives no lecture on how I need to eat better, does not substitute carrot sticks and kale. She listens and does.

My gentle cousin Betty calls and we discuss caregiving, she for a husband with cancer, I for a dad with dementia. Why don’t people get it? we ask each other.

Listeners are the caregiver’s lifeline. I know I will forever be grateful for these listeners. I survive because of them. I hope for more of them for all the caregivers to come.