Monday, January 21, 2013
The office was busy and I had no one who wanted a visit that day, so I offered to drop off a bundle of adult diapers. When I drove up to the house I struggled with a sense of envy. It was not just a beautiful house, it was a fabulously beautiful house. The kind of house that makes me dream of lots of family and laughter, a happy marriage, and wonderful celebrations. I went inside and everything was beautiful there, too. Fresh muffins, and lovely furniture, warm and inviting. I made a little small talk and prepared to leave, and then something made me pause and ask if there was anything else I could do. The woman, caregiver to her bedridden parent, began to cry. She talked first about difficulties in her family. When she learned that some of her stories were familiar to my own life, she opened up even more. In a torrent of words, she told me of the sadness, the dysfunction, the betrayal and the pain that had lived in every room of that house. She told me stories about generations of loss and mental illness. So much hurt. As is often the case, although some of it was just the way the chips sometimes fall, so much else was avoidable, preventable. And she told me how much she hated this house, this prison, this stronghold of unhappy memories. I listened and listened and listened, absorbing as much of her pain as I could. I gave her a few ideas for going forward, and she clung to them like lifelines. She hugged and hugged and hugged me. When I left nearly two hours later, the house looked very different. And I was happy to get home to my own.