(originally posted at Rosanna Leo‘s blog)
I’m just back from a training session on how to hook my mother up to a ventilator. She has a degenerative medical condition and we’re at the ventilator stage so I’m learning how to assist my father in her care. I’ve spent the last two hours learning about exactly how weak my mother’s lungs are and how vital this machine is to her continued survival.
My brain is full. My heart is sore. And I need a romance. STAT.
There is no worse feeling in the world than being helpless while somebody you love is hurting. Yelling at the medical staff to do more doesn’t help when you know you’ve got the best people possible working for you. Sometimes there’s nobody you can be mad at. There’s nothing you can do to make your spouse/parent/child/sibling/friend better or to take away the pain. All you can do is be there. And, sometimes, even simply being present is absolutely physically, mentally, and spiritually draining.
If you are taking care of somebody else, it’s important to take care of yourself as well. Make sure you eat real food (not just vending machine and fast food crap). Sleep. Get some exercise and fresh air. A walk around the block can work wonders.
Equally important to all the bodily concerns, is recharging your non-physical batteries.
It is so easy to get overwhelmed in situations like these. You need to find a way to get a few minutes to yourself to do something for yourself and get your head together. Some people bake or play Frisbee with their dogs or garden. I read.
Specifically, I read romance because I need to know somebody’s life is working out, even if that somebody is fictional. Even more specifically, on days like today I want to read light, fun, happy romances, not “dark” romances where there is a lot of suffering by the hero and heroine before they get to their own happy endings. I know the world can be unfair. I know it can be painful. I already live with that.
I want minimal angst, sexy, witty flirting, and a world where the perfect date outfit is only a quick shopping spree away. I want to remember there are people whose entire lives don’t revolve around trips to the doctor or sleepless nights listening to machines beep or wondering how they’re going to pay the next medical bill that comes in. I want to pretend for just a little while.
That’s why I read romances. They are escapism in the truest sense of the word. A one hundred page novella or a five hundred page epic transports me to a temporary safe haven. They occupy my mind while all my problems get shoved to the back-burner for a little while. Romances give me time to catch my breath, find my balance, and restore my faith.
That kind of escape can never be a bad thing.