Monday, August 12, 2013

The Road Narrows...

The last Christmas party hosted by the company he worked for before he became ill.  We had such a good time that night...sadly we did not have enough of those times in our 50 years together(49 married).

  A long time friend of 30 years who I have not really seen in a long while sent me this post on Facebook last week:

"So at this point I personally rely on seeing your posts as I have become involved in your journey of life. The fact that you have become primary caretaker for your husband of 40 plus years has had such an impact in my own life. When my ex-husband was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer he came to live his last days with his son Christian who lives behind me. I felt helpless and angry that I would be put in this position. You are teaching me to forgive my feelings and be thankful for every situation we are given."

My response:

I was told a year ago that I was beginning a journey, a hard, difficult one. That my emotions would be all over the place. Well, they were right only they didn't tell me the half of it. You are watching someone that you love, care about fade away. Then you are called upon to be the care giver which in essence means give up you life as you knew it. You are caught between grieving your life, their life, your life as a couple. I was just talking to someone last night who was called upon to do the same as you with her ex husband, the father of her kids. That is a huge undertaking. Are you kidding me? Absolutely take yourself off the hook. At some point healing comes out of it I am sure. Maybe that is why we are put in these situations, to give the opportunity for forgiveness, all the way allow the grace of God to heal those things that needed to be healed. I don't know...the whole suffering thing makes me crazy. Also, life does not stop because you are a caregiver. Other situations, worries, and in general life hits you daily. I have to think about now taking care of myself, running my home alone, keeping a car on the road...just to name a few, this while grieving and caring for Richard. So 15 months with hospice, after he having been ill for such a long time, well needless to say I am spent, worn, irritable, and have little patience for things beyond my control...I have to save what little I have left for Richard. I worry about my own health these days because of the stress. People think your home doing nothing, caring for someone but they really do not get what that really means. But still and all I would not have done it any different...this is how he wanted it and I agreed. Thanks,R-------. Thanks for sharing that with me, thanks for reading my posts and I am so pleased to know they have helped you. I don't know how else to be other than frank, no filter. I just put it out there, honest and raw...death is raw. Grief is raw. It is the ending of a life...forgive him, he turned where he knew to go. Think on that. Forgive you? I don't think there's anything to forgive...those were your feelings. Just deal with the feelings, feel them and let them begin to leave. God bless and thank you...

I received a similar email from another long time friend whose husband has just been diagnosed with cancer and for now responding well to chemo...but she is fearful and understandably so.  I am grateful for these women and many others who have reached out to me in one way or another.  I am grateful that my ramblings have given them some measure of peace or comfort.  It is a hard road for both the person who is dying and those of us helping them on this, their final journey...we must not minimize our feelings in any of this.  I choose to be honest and frank because it helps me and it is obviously a source of support to others.  We don't like to talk about death.  There are people in my own family who avoid Richard, thus me because they don't want to confront their own mortality I suppose.  They say things like they can't handle it or it makes them depressed...Sorry, I have no pity for them.  I can't leave, run, or pretend it is not happening.  I have to be here and watch the decline but I am better for it.  

Maggie, the ever faithful companion can usually be found with Richard.  This was a quick ride to the water...quick being the operative word here as soon as we arrived and I got him settled in a chair Richard wanted to leave.

Richard has been in bed, sleeping pretty much since Friday eating no more than a cup of yogurt a day or maybe a Popsicle.  He had some relief from the encephalopathy which allowed for some clarity of thoughts.  He asked me what I thought dying was like or would be like.  A shocking question from him as he has not been able to even talk about his passage partly because of his confused thinking due to the encephalopathy.  I related some of my thoughts and things I had read. He seemed comforted by our exchange.  We said some things to each other that I am grateful for leaving me in tears.  Yesterday was more little talks of him remembering times past, people, houses we lived in, things he wished were different...again bittersweet.  He said he wished we were young again.  I am so grateful for these moments in time with him. 

I was strangely calm this past weekend and I can not explain that.  Even last night I did not get to sleep until 4:30 AM because he awoke a few times and I needed to help him and of course I was unable to sleep because my mind was racing with all manner of thoughts...primarily I know he is declining.  Oddly,  I feel like I am in this very soft cocoon of sorts and I am just going through the days and nights relatively untouched by anything.  I know what is happening but yet I can not seem to grasp it.  Self preservation kicking in?  I am on over load with a few irons in the fire right now and maybe it the brain and the body's way of protecting us.

I have little energy reserves and sometimes just the thought of opening Blogger is too much.  Today after very little sleep I had the energy...go figure.  Thanks for reading and please, comments are welcome.  Have a great day.  And remember, it is not the things you have done in life that you will remember but that which you have not done that you will think about and regret having not done.  So look at that list of things you are waiting to do and begin!  What are you waiting for?


K Spoering said...

Carol, My thoughts and my prayers reach out to you. May God give you the strength for this hard time in your life.

Kathy S

Carol said...

Thank you, Kathy. Thoughts and prayers are so welcome...