How sadly things had changed since she had sat there the night after coming home! Then she had been full of hope and joy and the future had looked rosy with promise. Anne felt as if she had lived years since then, but before she went to bed there was a smile on her lips and peace in her heart. She had looked her duty courageously in the face and found it a friend–as duty ever is when we meet it frankly. – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
At this moment in the story, not long after Matthew’s death, Anne decides not to go to college in favour of staying home to take over the work of running Green Gables, thereby also saving Marilla’s eyesight.
That last part of the quote, about finding duty a “friend,” makes perfect sense to me after having made a similar decision to stay home as a caregiver for my Dad a few years ago.
It certainly came at a cost. I was in grad school, and delayed graduation meant taking on a significant amount of added student debt, not to mention losing a year of income at a new job. It also meant my husband and I delaying our plans to have a family, which might not seem like a big deal until you read about the risks of having children in your late 30s.
But one morning when I was with Dad, as I felt the sting of my circumstances, I also felt deeply privileged to be there for him at this vulnerable time in his life, especially after everything he had done for me over the years.
In that moment, and afterwards, I considered my duty a friend. And although I still feel the sting of that sacrifice, I’ve never regretted my decision.