My Daughter Comes Home to Take Care of Her Sick Father
I call home. My daughter says, “He is doing fine.
Here, he’s getting ready to sleep. Talk to him.”
He sounds distant and confused. He has forgotten
where I am. I tell him. He says, “When will I be going?”
“Where?” I ask him. He stumbles, can’t find the words
to explain. “Go to sleep now, I whisper. I love you.” Tears push
at the back of my eyes. When my daughter gets back on the phone
she says, “He wants you to know he loves you, too.”
I do not understand how love could become so complicated.
I am ashamed that some part of me wants this to end, to just
stop, that increasingly I’m planning his funeral, though even
that is confused and fraught with guilt. How can I love him
and at the same time want him to die so I won’t have
to be responsible anymore? What shame I feel. What kind
of person am I who could love him, and now that he is
in a wheelchair, now that he wears a diaper and needs to be
washed and fed, now that he has forgotten how to sit down,
or answer the phone, now that he is. losing his mind, now
that he has become more like a baby than a husband, that
in my darkest cave could wish him dead, the funeral over,
the house no longer smelling like a nursing home, no longer full
of too many people, and I with the house sold, living in a condo,
where I can shut the door behind me,
safe and quiet and alone.
Used by permission of the author.