Clean Hands – Pure Heart

Content warning – emotional weekend – proceed at your own risk.

When did sleep patterns become indicative of emotional strain? I chuckled when I synched my garmin this morning after waking. This is what it looked like:


This is pretty much exactly how my emotions were this weekend. It was definitely a roller coaster. The high points were due to my sister being in town. She is a DELIGHT! Always has me laughing. The low points were due to my dad’s illness.

I sometimes don’t know how to deal with all the feels that I have regarding Dad. I get to my sister’s house (where they live) and feel useless, so I clean.

Sitting next to Dad, holding his hand, talking to him, having him tell me that the easiest thing for him would be to just die on the operating table. He’s afraid of the unknown beyond his whipple procedure. Will he have six good months and then a year of hell? Will he have two good years and four sucky years? Will he survive the operation? Will he even make it to the operation? These were the things he was asking/telling me. I try to comfort him. Then look…the microwave needs to be wiped down. So I clean.

My sister sits with him and visits and laughs and tries to take his mind off everything while she feeds him (he has a feeding tube these days). I hear the strain in her voice as she struggles to remain upbeat and positive for him. And looky there…the kitchen aid has flour on it. So I clean. Wipe away the dust. Turn of the sound of Dad’s tiny voice trying to talk with my sister.

After he goes to bed for the night, my exhausted mother sits next to me on the couch and said she needs me to do something for her. She normally asks “Would you mind….” But that’s not her approach this time. She has a specific need. “I need you to find out what happens to his social security when he dies. Do I get survivor benefits? What do I have to do to get the survivor benefits?” And then her tears start. I take her hand and assure her that I will find out this week what needs to happen. She says, “I don’t know why, but I just can’t look into this. It’s so stupid.” I squeeze her hand tighter and tell her it’s not stupid and that she doesn’t have to look into it because I will take care of it. Her relief at not having to deal with that is palpable, and she hugs us and goes to bed.

The responsibility of making sure that her financial needs are met is overwhelming. So I clean. Wipe down the table. Finish loading the dishwasher. Scrub the stove top. Anything to get the voice in my head to quiet down because OH MY GOD, WHAT IF I FAIL AT THIS RESPONSIBILITY AND SHE ENDS UP DESTITUTE!?

When everything has been wiped off, cleaned up, scrubbed down I snuggle up on the couch next to my sister. We’re both exhausted. Emotionally. Physically. We talk. We reminisce. We laugh. But we don’t cry. We fall into an exhausted, fitful sleep, trying to get enough rest so that we can do it all again the next day. Bracing ourselves for when the time comes that there is nothing left to clean.


3 thoughts on “Clean Hands – Pure Heart

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