by Heather Shaw
It has not been the best year of my life.
Much of it was spent with a partner battling stage 3 cancer — juggling the regular responsibilities of a family, a job and one very active puppy (which seemed like a good idea at the time) with an added dimension of constant uncertainty and unease. I tried to do everything, and yet so many things came undone. My mother passed away this summer, without a will or even power of attorney, and my father fell apart as a result, emptying their home of every last bit of everything that held a memory and announcing he was relocating from Chicago to my home in Portland, OR immediately because as an only child I was “all that was left.” My left hip was pronounced “severely, prematurely arthritic” and in need of a replacement. Sometime around January, my eleven year-old daughter stopped sleeping — period — and I found myself creating elaborate bedtime routines that invariably always ended in a campout on my bedroom floor so as not to disturb anyone else in the family (an exhausted compromise at best).