Several years ago, I rented a bedroom in a three-bedroom house near Ocean Beach with Albert, Michael, and Michael's husband, Paul. When Paul took ill (his dying was relatively quick), I helped out as best I could, though I was under no obligation to. I didn't do it well. I was still a bit of a drunk party monster in his 20s, and would frequently hide in my room when not needed, getting tight and blowing clouds.
It wasn't exactly an improvement over caring for my Alzheimer's-afflicted grandmother when I was a teenager. Then, I was pretty much the perfect little saint. I never once lost patience with her or broke down, and mine was the name she never forgot.
I have been called good and all sorts of wonderful things besides. But what stick out are the failures.
No matter how many blind men I've helped across the street, or spilled paraplegics I've helped get back into their chairs, or bleeding victims I've waved down a squad car for, I'll always think of the failures, like my inability to be the best caregiver for Paul.
Or like the man lying down at Turk and Taylor two days ago, his walker by his side. Should I have stopped? I didn't, as though I were like anyone else who would pass suffering by without a thought...