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This morning my friend, who is also my son’s aide, came to the house in an emotional state. She was clearly upset. Her voice was shaking, her hands were shaking and she told me after their outing she needed to talk to me. I asked her what was wrong and she responded, ‘Life.’

They had some time to spare before leaving the house and seeing she was clearly agitated, I asked her to tell me what was wrong. I was concerned, not only for her, but for my son, as I wasn’t sure she was going to be able to accompany him in the state she was in.

She informed me she’s got some very serious health issues happening and that she’s going to need a couple days off this month to have tests done and after that she doesn’t know when, but she’s certain she’ll need more time off.

She broke down and cried and I just wanted to cry with her and hug her, but instead I heard this voice in my head… omg, how is this going to effect my son? How much time is he going to miss at his volunteer job? Not more issues with yet another aide! Why is it when things are going well something always has to happen? How am I going to explain this to him? Should I advertise for a back-up aide? If I look for a back-up aide, will she think I’m trying to replace her?

As she was telling me that she’s thought of every possible horrible outcome that could happen, that she might seek some counseling, though I felt sorry for her and completely understood, I heard myself telling her “you need to express your emotions, have someone to purge all your negative thoughts to, but then you have to learn to compartmentalize all the ‘possible’ things that could happen and focus on what you need to do to get better.”

After we determined she was okay to take my son out and they’d left, I had a brief cry. I felt terrible. I felt badly for her and having to face this health crisis, but I felt terrible that while I sympathized with what she’s going through I couldn’t keep from thinking about how this will effect my son. I couldn’t help but think about the stress of trying to find someone to be a back-up for her, so she can take the time she needs to heal and get well, but protect and make sure my son still gets his services.

I felt horrible that I couldn’t just focus on her. It felt selfish that my thoughts went to my son and how her crisis was going to impact him.

People have told me for years that I need to always focus on my son, that he needs to always be the priority, that I can’t put the needs or problems of his aides ahead of him, as I’m always trying to accommodate them and he ends up suffering. In a situation like this, that sounds right, but feels selfish.

It’s hard when it’s someone you know, that you care about. It’s hard when something like this effects more than one person you care about, in different ways.

I just felt so horrible for being conflicted. I had to express those feelings. This seemed the best way to do that.