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My life slowed down in October when my mother found out about her ovarian cancer.

It faltered, stuttered in February when my mother had her stroke.

And it paused completely in May when it became clear that my mother wasn’t going to have a miraculous recovery, or even a long partial recuperation.

My life has narrowed in focus to the daily (sometimes multi-daily) phone call. Everything that happens before and after the call seems to be just killing time until the next call. It’s not something I did consciously. It crept up on me so quietly that I just didn’t see it coming. It’s part desperate, unspoken need to have one last day talking to my mother — even if she’s more often than not somewhere else; part fervent wish to provide what meager emotional support I can to my father when everyone else has moved on with their busy lives; and part just waiting for whatever is going to happen to just happen already. (We won’t even talk about the paralyzing guilt that last item brings with it.)

I can’t live this way. Something has to change.