It seems we are missing each other on the forum. I write before I know all the facts, read the new posts and respond, just as you are responding to my response! Must mean we are with each other in some way.
I know how horribly painful this is. We are never prepared, even though in our brain we know what is happening. Our hearts don't operate that way, though.
I know you have never asked for recognition for doing what you have done for your mom and now your dad. I think that to the outside world, others have no idea of what we do in order to give this quality of care and love to our family. I can admit now, and at the time, that it most certainly was an emotionally and physically challenging time. Years away from the rest of my family, relocating to unfamiliar city, leaving friends behind, leaving teaching, losing my income, losing my mind at times
, physical labors of lifting etc. which eventually wore down parts of the body not meant for that kind of labor, and the ensuing surgeries to repair those injuries.
The most important thing I will remember, though, is not all of that. It is the feeling I had when I had Mom tucked in for the night, getting a small kiss and huge smile, giving Dad some small before bedtime snack and watching the news with him before seeing him off to bed to join mom, with "I Love You" being the last words we spoke to each other each night. . It was that feeling that I was able to be with them, not for the thank you's, not for the admiration or recognition, but for the healing of my heart, a heart that had been so horribly broken just a year before moving to care for mom and dad. Surrounded once again by their love, as when a child, was such a comfort. Mom may not have known me for a good part of that time, but she was still maternal, still knew how to comfort a child. To her I was at times a very nice lady, at times a friend who came to visit often, but on some occasions I was her little girl again, just as she had become my little girl.
After Mom was gone I had no time to truly grieve because Dad was suffering so. The heart broken by the man I had loved for 30 years and abandoned by him like a thief in the night was a heartbreak I thought would hurt forever. Seeing my dad and the way he was as his heart was broken from losing his wife of nearly 60 years was at times unbearable. He had been there for me when I was first deserted by the man even he had come to love over all the years. Dad drove the 8 hours, with mom, to let me cry on his shoulder huddled on the couch, hour after hour. Eventually he had to play the dad and forced me to pick myself up and start putting a life together, as hard as he knew it was. He was with me every step of the way. Unbeknownst at the time, he was sitting in the downstairs lobby of the courtroom the day of my divorce hearing and was the first face I saw when I came out of that courtroom drained of all emotion, sobbing, bewildered how my life had changed so without me knowing it. Again he had driven with mom those 8 hours to be my rock yet again.
There was no way I was going to let down the dad who never let me down. And he did not do it for recognition, for admiration, although he certainly deserved it. He did it because he loved me and that is the only reason, the simple reason, for me choosing to care for him and for mom their last several years. The years of love and support from mom, before Alzheimer's robbed her of precious time and memory, are years I treasure. She was a strict Scot, as she called herself, but always, always, my safe place to be at the end of every day.
Losing that is a loss we are not really meant to bear, I don't think. Loss reminds us of what it is we did lose, all those wonderful things that make us miss those who have passed. We bear it because we have to, but the grief really stays on, the intensity of it changing on and off, good days and better days as well as sad and seemingly unbearable days. But at the end of every day, I know I was loved. At the end of every day I know that I loved.
I want you to have that peace, my friend. I will hope it finds you.