At the end of this 18-month period, I've now completed the two most important jobs of my life. I've cared for my mother during her final months, and I've written a book about that experience - and about the the experience of growing up with (then undiagnosed) autism.
With mum's passing, there's no one left. My brother - my closest-living blood relative - might as well be a stranger I've never met. I've honoured mum's memory in words... and there's not much else I can do.
I live alone, with my cat. I work with autistic people.
Apart from that, I go through the motions of a life. I pay the bills, I eat, I sleep, I get up in the morning and go to work, I come home, I watch a movie, I go to bed... I start again.
I'll be 60 next year. Life has largely passed me by. I don't really have anything left to do. I don't want to travel any more. I don't have anything I'm burning to learn. I don't have anything left. If it wasn't for Daisy, my cat, I'd probably take myself out of the picture permanently. It would be so easy. And such a release.
But she's here. And she needs me. So I must be here, too.
Until I'm no longer needed.
I count my remaining days with hers.
I wanna reach out to you - to tell you it gets better, to tell you not to do anything permanent, and to offer connection... compassion. But, I'm too disenfranchised myself to think there are magical or instantaneous answers. It's just hard sometimes, and I respect you enough to recognise that.
I'm not gonna tell you to travel - as I hate travelling myself. People always tell me to travel, as it will make me a "better person". Yet, I've met loads of worldly-travelled folks who are still awful people. Likewise, you've probably already read a load of books. And, new hobbies ain't gonna fill a void left by an existential lack of meaning or purpose.
... you're obviously an intelligent, sharp-minded and humorous person. You've demonstrated that on this forum; not only offering solid advice and interesting insight, but you've also reached out to offer compassion to others yourself. I've seen it. So, you've evidently got a lot to offer still.
Is your book published? If not, is this a project worth pursuing... as there may be real benefits to others from putting your own story out there? Are there any mentoring programmes near you for you to help younger (or hell, even older!) newly-diagnosed autistics? There's nothing like that where I live, and being newly-diagnosed myself, I could've done with the guidance of someone who's already walked that path - and who could offer far more invaluable insight than so many of the so-called professionals. If there is no such scheme, have you thought about pioneering one?
You've been through a lot. And, I'm not gonna placate you - as I know all too well just how tiresome, hard work and unrewarding this life can be. But, this world isn't without it's magic still.
A break from this site could be good. Maybe a chance to explore as-yet-unconsidered options? Maybe reinvent yourself entirely - throwing out the old narrative completely! Why not?! If you're single, maybe it's time to date? If you need some deeper meaning, maybe you could explore new spheres, like Buddhist philosophy / meditational practice?
As much as this world can be a real chore and unrelenting hard work, it remains coloured with so many options. It just takes a little creative thinking to find out what's suitable for you.
And as for cats, I've always preferred their company to people. Never underestimate the power of a cat belly-rub! Personally, I've always been of the belief that if you have one cat, why not have two or three?!
I can only send heart-felt and genuine good thoughts your way Tom.