You were my family,
I loved you, sometimes resented you,
felt darkly confused and conflicted.
Your illness set in slowly,
as you lost your way
I became your caregiver
and you my care partner.
This was a new role
I was scared, even terrified i’ll admit,
to try it on.
I helped you to hang onto your dignity, in your home
aging in place they call it,
and you helped me,
You gave me reason to get up in the morning,
You gave me a new life purpose.
I helped you look good to the world,
You helped me look good to the world.
Our relationship shifted
maybe it’s just that I shifted
my heart grew ripe and opened
patience, ahhh patience,
attentiveness to your person
caring for you in ways i thought were impossible
respecting you wholly
I wish I’d learned this sooner.
I learned that pushing what I want for you
can hurt us, our relationship,
that pushing clashes with acceptance.
Our relationship re-created now
through routine daily tasks
setting meal trays,
dressing and undressing clothes,
from leaving loving notes and
seemingly silly reminders
to asking you
How do you want to die?
What’s unsaid that wants to be spoken?
My world shrunken
you are it
we are it.
I owe my thanks to you
for being a funny, wise sometimes grumpy sage
for teaching me new skills
for giving me new knowledge to pass forward
for revealing the courage I have inside
to ask bold questions
to create a healing space
to understand discomfort and awkwardness
to laugh sardonically
at our body’s vulnerabilities
at our deathly ambivalence
to realize life’s transitions
as I mourn you and