I'd like to modify the analogy of our age group as the "sandwich" generation.
It just doesn't work.
Too many good sandwiches come on soft, tasty bread.
The bread is actually quite delicious and satisfying.
The way I've been feeling lately is more like panini -- my precious bread crushed by two thick slabs of hot metal that are squeezing the melted cheese out of me, searing us all and permanently charring our skin.
I'm not even there.
My parents are a good 1,000 miles away and our youngest brother is taking the full brunt of it.
But the past couple of weeks, I've been on the phone or on email dealing with doctors, social workers, case managers, directors, our parents and other family members all while trying to keep the household going and lamely pacifying my kids when they come home and I'm too busy to hear about their days.
This is the first chance I've had to write anything.
I miss it.
It is getting better.
My mother is improving and my father has been stable for a long time.
But that grill is still there, threatening.
And it can be cruel and deceptive.
There was, for instance, a moment when the pressure eased and I rolled over to survey the damage to the other slice of bread.
Just then the grill gave me one more hard, heated squeeze, nearly suffocating me with the pressure to make up for all I've neglected, especially the kids.
Book reports were due. Easter was looming. The twins wanted to roller skate in the house.
Fortunately, I am not alone in this sandwich.
Two other strong hands reached out and pushed back the grill, helping me fluff the bread, tending to it in magical ways, making it soft once again.
I found that the bread is tougher than it had seemed. The heat had not broken it down and the char marks could be scraped away.
My kids still love me.
They didn't starve.
They made their school deadlines.
The Easter bunny will make an appearance on time.
And the twins have not convinced me to let them roller skate in the house.
Thank goodness for those two other hands.
Here's the thing though.
Despite it all, I still love panini.
Especially the bread.