It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that something that happened 15 years ago gets harder every year, not easier.

What happened to Virginia was “a full body blow” as my Dad calls it, not just for her, but for all of us who love and care for her. The effects only grow with time and become more isolating.

Losing both her daughters to cancer way before their time did not physically kill my grandmother, but her spirit was crushed and never recovered. As a mother, I can understand that feeling. How do you move on when those you love the most cannot?

Findley and I would gladly die for Virginia, but if caring for her kills us spiritually, emotionally, or physically, what good are we to her or the other people in our lives who we love and serve? Not much.

Virginia has been in a funk the last two days because we just got home from ten days in the North Carolina mountains. She loves being there, but really she loves having all of us around all the time. It’s tough for her when Wills and Eliza go back to school. Obviously what is best for Wills and Eliza is also ultimately best for Virginia, but it pulls at my heartstrings.

For a long time I thought there was a good chance Findley and I would go off the grid, so to speak. It’s a lot easier for Virginia when life is slower, and let’s be honest, we’d be perfectly happy staring at a mountain stream for the rest of our lives. But while we can all certainly learn a lot from Virginia who takes great joy in the mundane, a full life for the other four members of our family looks very different than it does for her. Balancing that equation seems to elude me, but I have realized that continuing to dial back our activities until there is nothing left is not the life-giving option I once thought it would be.

Two things I know I have to do are quit comparing myself to others and lower my expectations for what I accomplish. At this point, most of our friends no longer have small children. Their lives are getting logistically easier. Ours is getting harder, and if I’m not careful, focusing on that will make me bitter. I will only see what we can’t do instead of seeing all the things we can.

A productive day for me is bathing Virginia, taking her on a walk, and cooking dinner. Most of my friends accomplish a lot more, but the caregiver life is different. I have to cut myself some slack and not compare. I have to continue to do the next right thing, and pray that the culmination of those actions equals something beautiful.