When I became my mother’s Caregiver, my cell phone became my constant companion. Before she had to retire, and I moved in full time, I was still living and working in NYC while she lived and worked in Westchester, NY. I spent my days consumed with worry. As soon as I woke up, I would call her to check in. And then I would begin calling every few hours. I often wondered if the secretaries at her school found me to be caring or completely neurotic! As a teacher, she was done by 3:15. If I didn’t hear from her by 4:00 I was panicking. Every evening I would call two and three times to chat and make sure she was alive.
When her health became too grave for her to work any longer, I moved in full time. She was usually too weak to talk on the phone and so her friends and our family would often call me. I became the daily announcer for all things Anandi. Eventually, the doctors stopped calling her and only called me. And it was me who had to deliver to her whatever awful news they had for us that day.
I had been an only child, and so by nature a bit self absorbed growing up. Now, I only focused on her. I spent every day calling insurance companies and trying to find a doctor that could save her. And every night I slept with my phone in my bed because if she needed me, from the room next door, she would call. Because now she was too weak to call out for me.
When she passed, I turned my phone on silent. The sound of it ringing would give me chills. Every time it vibrated it was like I was experiencing post traumatic stress, and I would immediately look for her name on the screen. It had become this awful traveling device of doom. I completely stopped having actual conversations on it and could only muster texting.
My friends and I would laugh about how rare it was to hear my voice, but few knew how painful it truly was for me.
Now, 7 years later, I have finally begun to answer. Not just that, I have actually dialed a few numbers myself! I know, that this means I am healing. Time has passed and the mind has a wonderful way of protecting us. Now, as I settle into my new city, my phone is this wonderful connector to friends and family. It rings and there is someone wonderful on the other end who loves me and who usually has some funny story for me. And sometimes, it’s just a beautiful friend calling to have a glass of wine over the phone and chat about absolutely nothing.
My ringer stays on now, though set to some sort of zen chime, and I don’t panic when it sounds. And every time I reach for it, I realize that the pain has eased and that I am going to be okay. And for that, I am forever grateful and blessed.