“You are the worst caretaker in the world.” The words came out hot and thick like lava oozing from my lips. The words I said to my mother, my sole caretaker, who had been working tirelessly between her paying job and her job of taking care of me since I had been diagnosed with cancer. I was 24 years old, and in that moment I hated her. I meant those words. Who knows why- maybe it was because she couldn’t fix my neuropathy, maybe it’s because she had run a few minutes behind to get me to the doctor, or maybe it was the high dose of steroids I was on that took over and triggered a moment of rage. My mother, standing over me as I lay sick in my bed just nodded and said, “Okay.” She continued on with whatever task she was doing for me (perhaps it was folding my laundry or preparing my meds, I can’t remember exactly now) and left my room.
The details are blurry, but I remember the words so clearly. I think about that now and feel a stinging in my heart. The person who worked, worried, and sacrificed every day to keep me alive was the one I wanted to hurt in that moment. It doesn’t make sense to me at all, why I would say that, why I would want to make her feel bad. Most days I was unbelievably grateful for her. I didn’t know how I would get through this without her. Even when I didn’t want to go on anymore, when I was so sick I wished I was dead she carried me through it. She never showed any doubt or weakness. When I came down from my unwarranted anger, I apologized. She seemed to brush it off like it wasn’t a big deal, but I still know that when she left my bedroom that day she went into hers and cried. I cried too.
It wasn’t until much later I really understood how much my mother took on for me. She never asked me for anything in return, and never made me feel bad about it. She was my rock. I share this with you, caretaker, because you might relate to this. Maybe it’s not exactly the circumstance, but there might be moments when the person you are caring for will be angry and they might take it out on you. So, on behalf of those that you sacrifice for every day I want to say thank you. Thank you for never giving up on us even when we aren’t nice, even when we don’t want to go on anymore. Thank you for taking a deep breath when we test your patience. Thank you for going above and beyond for us in this role you didn’t ask for. Thank you for saving us every single day.