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It’s been a year since MoC had the strokes. It’s been a year of chaos and hope and tears and perseverance. Mostly, though, it’s been a year of struggling to accept inevitable changes. My mother has always been a very quiet, humorous force of nature – that’s the one thing that hasn’t changed. These last twelve months taught me more than I have I have learned in a lifetime.

I’ve done my best to ignore certain facts because I wanted MoC to be at home. Mostly, though, I just wanted her to be happy and to be as free as possible, given her circumstances. We are approaching the point where we have to make some different decisions for her.

My brain tells me that if she goes back to the nursing home, she will be safer and will have the round the clock care she needs. She knows the staff and likes them. More importantly, they love her. My heart, on the other hand, is kind of broken. I never wanted this for her and I never thought it could happen to her. Even after she had the strokes, I thought she would be able to recover – and I told myself that for as long as I could. Her recovery has been remarkable, actually, but it’s not enough. And she is beginning to go backwards a little.

So. It’s probably time.

I balance the thought that she might go downhill if she goes into the nursing home against the fact that she’s fallen three times in the last month. I balance the fact that she didn’t get hurt against the fact that she could have broken a hip. I think about the freedom she has at home but then remember that she is unable to cook a meal for herself. I remember all of the crazy conversations we had, all the laughter and giggling and blowing straw wrappers at each other. Then I think about Sunday, when we were going to dinner and she said she didn’t have her sunglasses. So I put the visor down for her and then she waved her hand in front of my face. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “I’m wiping the sunshine out of your eyes.”

And even though my head is telling me that I did everything I could, I still feel like I failed.