Sara Lukinson has written an extraordinary piece in today’s New York Times, about her relationship with her terminally ill sister and her role as caregiver while her sister is dying.
“What can I do?” I ask feebly. “Be patient,” she says. And I want to hide my inner impatience with shame. Because for decades, I’ve bristled at her edge-of-fear look, that hesitancy before taking a step. Only now it’s longer and deeper. Watching it seize her makes me feel I’m being sucked out of the sky. Her life had become a full-time managing of her disease, hiding the next turn in the road.
But until death is in the room, it’s easier than you’d think to revert to lifelong habits of instant annoyances, petty bickering.
A turn of her head, a certain faraway look, and I could forget she’s sick and get mad at her. I yelled at her not long ago over some important tax forms, I can’t remember anymore why. Horrible me.
Raging As My Sister’s Light Dims
Ms. Lukinson goes on to write:
Sitting with her I am calm and furious, loving and angry, knowing what a gift it is to have such a sister. Wretched to be forced, again, into the slavery of disease. Of having to serve it, and bow to it. I want to escape and be in the light of life. Then, I feel gutted and guilty for wanting to flee.
But here is how her essay concludes:
Now, as the breath of life ebbs away, I keep close to her side. She has never seemed braver or more beautiful to me. Still herself, still my sister.
Extraordinary. Both sisters.
Image: Jon Han, The New York Times
Usually I save my weekly vents until the weekend, when I can process the outrages of the previous seven days, including an entire work week. However, this week merits its very own, special, midweek Weekly Vent. Yes, today was my office’s semi-regular, offsite, daylong, management retreat. Shoot me now.
I like my job. Just spare me the management retreat and let me DO my job. Trapped in a room for seven straight hours. The platitudes. The hypocrisy. The blatant falsehoods. The false friendliness. The colleagues texting and reading email while their unfortunate peers make forced presentations. The plans that will gather dust until the next offsite retreat. The collecting of ammunition to be used later to stab
rivals colleagues in the back. Here’s why they call these “retreats” — because work has become a battlefield, if not a war of attrition. Only Dilbert can adequately express the pain.
Cartoon: copyright Scott Adams
I am a middle-aged person whose life, public and private, demands self-control. But sometimes I just want to scream, and maybe you do too. I need an anger translator. This blog is my Luther.
Luther, Anger Translator
An op-ed today calls for more white people to emulate Jenny Horne, the (white, Republican, female) state legislator whose passionate statement in favor of taking down the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina went viral yesterday: The Power of White Outrage, by Dorothy Brown.
Watch the video embedded in the article; you’ll see a vivid example of righteous middle-aged rage. One male legislator, an outspoken opponent of taking down the flag, who kept the debate going for thirteen long hours by proposing ridiculous amendments like one that called for the American flag to be hung upside down on the Statehouse if the rebel flag was taken from the grounds (patriotic, right?), told a reporter that Representative Horne’s statement was “unbalanced” and “self-serving.”
No, sir. What you saw was an intelligent, middle-aged woman, willing to stand up for what she knew to be right and for people she knew to have been wronged, who was mad as hell and not willing to take it any more. She won. Get used to it.
Middle age. Sometimes “The Scream” is the work of art that best captures this stage of life. Youthful illusions depart and we are left in the setting sun, protesting feebly against the indignities of the second half of life in a world gone mad. Continue reading