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Monday, November 5, 2018

The Holes In His Mind, A Story For National Family Caregiver's Month and NaNoWriMo

Happy November everyone. It's National Family Caregiver's Month. It's true. The Caregiver Action Network, aka CAN, has a lot of encouragements for caregivers as well as resources and information on RAISE (The Family Caregivers Act). 

You may also submit your own videos and stories. Everyone has a story and yours is needed to encourage others.

In the USA, according to the Caregiver Action Network there are almost 90 million caregivers. When I say, "You are not alone," I really mean that. The president (Yes, President Donald J. Trump) says that "Family caregivers are the foundation of our country's long term support system. In performing these challenging duties with patience and compassion, family caregivers embody selfless service and sacrifice."

Keep praying that in the near future caregivers will get the much needed financial aid. We get it, care-giving is our labor of love, but we can't do this without finances.

Besides National Family Caregiver's Month, November is also NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It so happens that both fit my life perfectly. Below is a flash fiction story for FlashWriMo, based on my experiences with Dadmy observations, and verbal input from him. I pray we can keep our loved ones comfortable, safe, happy, and fearless. And may we as caregivers find strength, patience, love, and rest. Stay strong. I hope you enjoy, "Holes."


Who did this to me? Every part of my body feels beat up; I’m trapped inside a roll of barbed wire. The inside of me fell apart somehow and I must have bounced back the wrong way. There are holes everywhere—in my bones, my muscles, my stomach, and most annoyingly, my brain.

I can feel them—the holes in my brain. Something is eating me from the inside. Nobody seems to know what to do. “Say your goodbyes,” the white-coats say. Their glossy eyes stare at me. They can’t see the holes. If they did would they know how to fill them again?

Who is responsible for this? Who wanted me dead? Why do I feel so alone? Why do I feel so cold? The people around me are strangers. No wait … I know her, the child next to me is mine. But she looks so old.

The sun is going down. Will they help or just talk. I don’t understand what they’re saying, if they’re saying anything at all. Their words are gibberish, falling through the holes.

My mind won’t sleep and if I could twist and turn I would. I need to get up but the holes in my bones won’t let me stand. Without the sun I can’t see. If they only knew, they would bring the light to me. Maybe they have holes in their brains.

I’m walking. I don’t know how I’m walking. Someone tied a rope around me but I can’t see who or what I’m tied to. But I can see the portal now. Every time I walk toward the light they pull me back. What are they doing? Maybe they know better. There’s a darkness coming through the portal, and shadows—shifting shadows that don’t need a light to cast. They slither, growing larger till they fill up a hole.

Pray. I remember how to pray. From somewhere around the holes in my brain is a prayer. “Lord, what do I do?”

I see trees, or maybe they’re people holding willowy branches. Everything is moving so fast I can’t tell between the trees and the people or the shadows they cast. It’s hard to breathe here in the forest. The mist clutches my throat. I take a step and tumble into a river. It’s cold. I’m always cold. I hear the gurgling of the water. No, it’s my own lungs. Am I drowning?

Someone is pulling the rope. I’m back on a bed—prison. Her white coat is stained with blood. Did she go through the portal to get me?

“Take a deep breath,” someone says. “You’ll feel better.”

My arms are stiff. Fluids are pumped into the holes of my veins. The mist, the water, the shadows, the trees, the people fall through the holes of my brain till darkness swallows us into the void.

Breathe, breathe slowly. The sun rises bursting free into another day. Courage, I need courage. If only my words would stop falling through holes.

(Holes, copyright 2018, by Deborah L. Alten)


  1. Love this! I had no idea there was a Caregiver Action Network. Comforting to know I'm not the only out here dealing with the daily challenges of caregiving :)

  2. Hi Kris, glad I shared something that is useful. I recently learned about CAN myself. It's a comfort to know we are not alone. Hang in there.

  3. Wow! That's phenomenal. I love this: "Breathe, breathe slowly. The sun rises bursting free into another day. Courage, I need courage. If only my words would stop falling through holes."

    1. Thank you Jessica. Your encouragement is always appreciated.

  4. My father has dementia. I cried all the way through this. I hurts to think of him feeling like this. But, I'm so grateful that you wrote your father's words down. I'm sending a copy to my mother, his caretaker, and to my sisters. This helps us to understand so much better what Daddy is going through. Thank you for writing this, Deborah!

    1. Thanks Melinda. I'm blessed, humbled, and encouraged by your comments. You know, even this morning I lost a little bit of that patience with Dad and I reminded myself and my mom that he's not trying to give us a hard time, he's having a hard time. I pray for patience for your mom as well as strength, wisdom, lots of joy, and understanding. Tell her she's doing a great job. God sees and knows. Thanks again.

  5. So hard, but such a well written window. It's particularly interesting to me since it runs in my family, too.