There was a time when I loved her. Her lovely eyes brimming with compassion, her beautiful smile and her warm hug. I dug them. She was my support, my moral compass, my life. Not any more! Now I find it an ordeal to step into her room. Her room minimal, her bedside littered with medicines. The stench of her bed sores and the sickly sweet smell of the ever-pervasive ointments that try hard to keep up with her infection are nauseating. She is now a caricature of her former self with a perpetual scowl adorning her face. I brace myself for her painful barbs. Why can’t she talk nicely any more? Is it my fault that she is bed ridden?
I resent her. She has taken the normal away from my life. I yearn for normal! I want to crib about normal just like my friends do. What do they know? Normal is the best thing on earth. I haven’t known normal since the past 3 years when mom had a paralytic stroke. Still in her prime, she just went from gorgeous and able to paralyzed and dependent in one stroke. Dad and I did our best to help her, nurse her, hoping, caring, praying that we get her former self back. She did make some progress. She can now speak though her speech is slightly slurred. She can lift herself a little bit and her right side has regained some function. Yet, simple things like turning on the bed bring tears to her eyes. She undergoes physiotherapy. I have heard her screams when her useless muscles are repeatedly worked. She hates daddy and I for making her go through this. Her bitterness gets worse as a result.
She wants to die. She has told us in different tones a million times. I want to scream and ask God, “Why her? Why me?” And I have done that in the shower with the water on or with the pillow over my head in my room. I don’t want my daddy to see my tears. He is so strong but I have seen him become fragile and broken since mummy’s illness. He is trying hard to manage his work and home and mummy. From being socially popular to socially secluded, I’ve seen how friends have stopped calling or visiting. We are now social pariahs. We have faded from public memory left to stew in our misery.
I hate mummy. Why did she do this to me? I need her now more than ever.
I want to go away from this family to a place where that nauseating odor from her room does not permeate every atom of my being. No amount of scrubbing with the soap takes that smell away. It is as if it is a part of me now. A Psychiatrist had come and spoken to my mother. After 3 years and not much improvement, she is well and truly defeated. She is cantankerous; she yells, screams, emotionally blackmails us because we are alive and well. She has been diagnosed as depressed. Hence the excessive swings between tears and belligerence that dad and I suffer multiple times a day. She will be put on medication now. Hopefully she will feel better. After all hope is all we’ve got left.
Who do I talk to? Dad was never the talking type. I think my brain will explode. I am 17 and hopelessly lonely. I know you must be wondering what is wrong with me. I ought to be kind, sensitive and caring. It is not her fault that she is depressed or angry. But it is not my fault either? Why must I suffer so?
Does anyone ever wonder how a caregiver survives on a daily basis? Sometimes the ailing person turns on the caregiver with anger and bitterness chipping away at their strength and compassion. Does anyone care?
This is a fictional tale inspired by real life stories I have seen around me. This is my effort to share a slice in the life of a caregiver. Often, very few pay attention to the caregiver’s trauma or show them compassion. I have seen people judge caregivers, their sympathies reserved for the ailing. It is time to build a support system for the families of the ailing and to spare them a thought.
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