23 12 / 2010
I’m a little less than a week from starting grad school in another part of the country. The decision to further one’s education seems like a simple one, right? The economy sucks, I was at a (sorta) dead-end job so why not go back to school especially since you fooled around and got into one of the best programs in the country? I can tell you right now this is the most heart-wrenching decision I’ve made thus far in my 25 years of life.
What complicates my situation is a little thing called duty. I’ve written about my mother on here once before. See, when I was seventeen, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since that initial diagnosis, our lives have changed dramatically. At first, I have to admit I wasn’t the most understanding of my mother’s condition. I didn’t understand it and I didn’t realize how much it would alter just about every facet of both of our lives.
Every since I can remember it’s just been me and my mom. My parents divorced when I was four and I’m an only child. When we came back to Birmingham in 1989, we moved back in with my granny and it’s just been us three ever since. I had a wonderful childhood. True to only child nature, I usually got everything I needed and wanted. Bur more importantly, I had the strong relationship with my mother. I’ve never felt more love towards me from another individual on the planet. She’s truly my best friend. She’s funny, smart, beautiful and loving. She never stopped being my hero. I still want to be exactly like her when I finally grow up.
Perhaps the hardest part of her illness for me is seeing the cognitive changes. The fact that she can’t remember some of the moments that are my happiest with her kills me. Her personality has changed dramatically. Imagine somebody replacing the only parent you’ve really known with an emotionless carbon copy. The hospital stays and physical ailments are nothing compared to that. I basically put the last seven years of my life on hold to take care of my sick mother and aging grandmother. I’ve skipped work and class to hang out in hospitals. I’ve cried myself to sleep because of the declining health of the two most important people in my life. Honestly, I’ve been grieving for my mother the last seven year even though she hasn’t left this Earth.
To make it worse, I graduated college at the worst possible time. There were no jobs and the fact that I couldn’t find one doing anything full-time it seemed was wearing me down. When I finally found one, it definitely wasn’t what I thought it was. Basically, I was miserable in every aspect of my life. I went through the motions, but I know I was depressed. It was truly the darkest point in my life.
Then I got the bright idea to apply to J-school. Writing was the only thing I’ve cared about. The only thing I was completely happy doing. I applied for my dream program and eventually got in. That opened up a whole new can of worms in my life. Let’s just say some factions in my family have been less than supportive of me in just about everything.
I understand that my mom needs me, but I can’t be of any help to anyone depressed. We look at the situation two totally different ways. I look at this as an opportunity to brighten my future, and in turn, hers. They see it as abandonment of family. Over the years, all I’ve heard from them is what I should be doing. No one bothered to investigate the reasoning behind why I couldn’t single-handedly take care of both my mom and granny. Nobody wanted to hear about how much of a struggle it was to get out of bed each day. Nobody wanted to talk about how heartbreaking it was to watch my own mother fade away slowly. Needless to say, that relationship with that side of my family is beyond repair. There have been too many hurtful things said and done. Somethings aren’t worth fixing.
I hope I made the right decision about going to school. Sometimes, I’m not sure. Me and my mother have been inseparable since I’ve been alive. I remember following her around the house trying to make my steps match hers jut because I wanted to be wherever she was. Sure, leaving behind family and friends is tough but I’m really concerned about my mom. Although she says she’s proud of me and thinks I should go, I honestly can’t imagine a year without her. I’m sure she can take it. The question is: can I?