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Can We Have Some Pickles with That Sandwich?


JULIE:  It is 7 a.m. and I'm awake before the alarm, mind racing as I go over the mental checklist of what  needs to be done today. John is out cold. He is exhausted from the physical and mental demands of the past week of caring for his parents while helping them sort through and pack up a lifetime’s worth of belongings.  Now it is moving day, the day they will start their final chapter together in assisted living.  The melancholy in the air is stifling.

JOHN:  Today is the last mile of the marathon begun two months ago when the decision to move was made.  Dad’s dementia had advanced until Mom was no longer able to care for him.   Since then, every weekend but one has been spent with my siblings preparing for this day.  At this moment, the last mile seems all uphill as the stress of the situation and the lack of sleep this past week has taken its toll.

JULIE:  We also have three young adult children who have been making some major life decisions and looking to us for guidance.  Our eldest, recovering from the dissolution of a long-term relationship, decided to go back to school after being unemployed for several weeks during the covid-19 lockdown.  Our middle child, who recently turned 26, needed help navigating the maze of insurance options.  Our youngest, a travel agent, is rethinking her career choice after her industry was brought to its knees with the coronavirus.  She is considering moving back home and going to grad school.  Even though they are adults, they still need and deserve our support, encouragement, and wisdom. 

JOHN:  So where does that leave US?  We have become a sandwich, squeezed on both ends as life takes a bite out of us.  We have discovered 4 pickles have helped make our sandwich more palatable.  There are times when we have succumbed to the pressure of the squeeze and been short with each other.  During these times, (1) we have been quick to apologize and ask for forgiveness so that we can move forward together.  There are other times when the squeeze has actually brought us closer as we held each other and talked about what was happening and how we were reacting to it.  (2) Open, honest, and frequent communication has been the key to keeping us tethered together at a time when we could have easily drifted apart.  (3) We doubled our efforts to lighten the burden when one of us could tell that the other had reached our limit.  (4) Lastly, we took time out of the craziness for US to recreate by NOT cancelling planned camping and kayaking trips.  This helped us to be able to let go and have fun together, creating some positive memories during a most difficult period in our lives.  Adding pickles to our sandwich allowed us to actually grow as a couple during this stressful season of life.


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