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To the Children of Parents Who Have a Chronic Illness

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I get it. You see the parents of your friends doing things with them and taking them places. You a little bit jealous inside because you wish you could do that with your parent.

You are not alone.

Growing up, my mom didn’t go to my hockey games or watch me perform with my marching band. But when she did make it, it made those events a thousand times more special. You see, having a parent with a chronic illness, especially severe relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It’s probably one of the most difficult.

daughter posing with a photo with he mother

During the last few years of my mom’s life, there were nights I couldn’t spend time with my friends or follow through with plans with them because her aide called out or never showed up and I needed to help her. Those were also the nights we had a movie night and stayed up until 4 a.m. watching Disney movies. There were also the times I didn’t come home when she needed me or ignored her phone calls so I could spend time with my friends because I could always go there tomorrow.

But sometimes tomorrow never comes.

In March of this year, I lost my mom, my number one supporter and cheerleader, to a blood clot caused by her being bedridden from MS. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in a week. I saw her unconscious in the ER, and I begged and pleaded with God that if she woke up, I would be a better daughter. I would move back in with her and stay with her 24/7. Sadly, she never did regain consciousness, and my world came crashing down. 

After she was gone, all the jealousy that was pent up from not being able to go out when I wanted to or seeing my friends with their parents turned to serious, gut-wrenching regret. How could I feel that way? How could I not cherish the moments I spent with her? How did I go on for so long without speaking or seeing the one person who has always been in my corner? I carry that feeling with me every day.

My advice to you is that life is short. Stay at home with your parent, cook them a homemade meal, watch movies with them or play board games. Treasure these moments with them because in a blink of an eye they could be gone forever.

I would give anything to have one more pizza night or watch “Hannah Montana: The Movie” for the thousandth time because it was her favorite.

Always remember that you are not alone. There are so many of us who know what you’re going through and understand. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us, ask questions and share your stories. I wish I grew up having someone who understood what I was going through. 

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Originally published: October 31, 2016
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