Every year, my parents seem to shrink, a little. They become sadder and lonelier and angrier. Sometimes when I am sitting at a table with them, it feels like someone is standing on my chest. The silence seems loud, somehow.
In this way, domestic travel can be very disorienting: I shift from walking on the beach to walking on eggshells in the span of two hours. In San Diego, I am a healthy, well-adjusted, responsible adult. In the Bay Area, I can’t do anything except observe, helplessly.
I feel crushed, over and over.
I read snippets of the DSM-IV and it makes sense. I keep thinking absurd thoughts like if I just layer my words more carefully or present the information in a pleasing form, it will inspire change! They will become happy people! I am realistic enough to be cynical and idealistic enough to be hopeful.
Maybe part of growing up is accepting them AS IS and being able to tell them, repeatedly, I care for you, I love you, I forgive you, no matter how many times they hurt me or each other. I remind myself that they come from a different generation, a different culture, a different language, and there may be other unknown factors at play.
I think there’s a sense of renewed redemption, each time, when you get up and try. Every day is a new day to show that you care. Words like a benediction for better times, for some semblance of understanding.