This afternoon I received a call from the hospice bereavement counselor. She was lovely, and asked all the right questions: about mood changes, support from friends and family and a spiritual community, whether I was eating properly, how I was coping, whether I had any plans for the future. I told her I thought I was doing well, but that I felt rather directionless now.
For so long I’ve been tied to Mom—whether in support mode or as full caregiver—that now I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. I have so many options, so many things I want to do, a wide-open world, that I’m frankly a little overwhelmed.
I explained to her that taking care of Mom gave my days structure, even if it was often too restrictive. I ate at regular times because Mom needed to eat regularly because she couldn’t take her regimen of pills on an empty stomach, and the pills had to be properly spaced. I had to time her breath treatments, and we had our little bedtime rituals so that we could both get a decent night’s sleep.
Now I can get up when I want, go to bed when I want (very early or very late), take naps if I please, eat when I’m hungry and skip meals if I choose. I can waste my day in front of the computer or the television—well, I could if I didn’t have so much blasted client work to catch up on—and I can go out in the evenings or head out to a 10 a.m. matinée, depending on my whim.
I have so many choices now. And so very, very much to do. I need to dig out of a house that is collapsing under its own weight. I need to sort through a lifetime’s accumulation and sort everything to be given away, sold, or trashed, or else kept, reused, and repurposed. I need to repaint and probably recarpet; I need to rearrange old furniture and maybe buy some new pieces. I need to make this home mine.
Overwhelmed. It means to feel like you’re about to drown, the waters whelming over your head. If I was overwhelmed before with all I had to do, I am feeling even more so now. Though I think I’m probably in a small boat, a little coracle, and I’m scanning the night sky for the Dog Star. My compass is spinning, and I’m waiting to find true North. I need that kind of clearheadedness in order to chart a new path.