When you have a loved one with a serious illness or medical condition, sometimes it's hard to know what to do. You try to be there for them, to make sure that they are getting the best medical care and attention. You help with practical things, like making phone calls to doctors and sharing updates with friends and family. But there comes a point in which you feel helpless.
It's a terrible feeling, and a universal one. At some point, most of us will experience this, and there is no handbook. I haven't written publicly about the details of my mom's illnesses out of respect for her and my dad's privacy. Also, her conditions are complicated, and it's exhausting to try to explain the interplay of things like rheumatoid arthritis and infection, and why she needs a list of medications that take up a page and a half, 8-point font.
Last week when my mom went back into the hospital for surgery I asked my parents if I could start writing about our experience, while still being sensitive to what I shared. They said yes. I didn't know how to start.
Then on Thursday a friend posted something about June 13 being National Rosé Day, which was also mom's birthday. And her name is Rosemary. I thought it would be fun for friends to take photos of themselves toasting to her, holding a glass of rosé. She has helped so many other people, that this seemed a fun way to help cheer her on (here's the full post.)
We have been overwhelmed by the response from friends from around the country, who have gotten so creative. People like my friend Jamie, who made this beautiful rose icing. My friends Stephanie, who took the pink lemonade suggestion and ran with it. Friends from NY (mom's home state), FL (where my parents lived for 24 years), Alabama (the state they've called home since 1996) -- and many more. I'd love to get one from every state.
We celebrated her birthday by lifting up some faux-zay (that would be Cherry 7Up) at the rehabilitation facility, showing her the photos that have come in so far. And my Dad put his own spin on things.
A moment about dad. He has been incredible in taking care of mom, the rock for all of us. (I'll have to think of another hashtag for him!)
These photos are meant to be fun, and a little silly. But the meaning behind them is real. I'm printing out every one and sharing with my mom. It lets her know that people are cheering her on.
Even people who don't know Rosemary are participating, and I love that. And though National Rosé Day has passed, I want to encourage people to keep posting, whether it's with rosé, Diet Coke, lemonade, or a flower. When you share in #RoseForRosemary you are supporting people fighting the good fight, including caregivers and those who love them. I plan on writing more about the caregiving experience, not just for us but for other people who are facing similar challenges.
So keep it coming. And follow us on Twitter @RoseForRosemary.