From lover to nurse

{repost from 7/2021}

Oh, to be a caregiver. To go from lover to nurse. To walk the road of cancer.

For 11 months, from diagnosis to his death, this is the path we endured. Michael suffered his own journey – one of life threatening reaction after another. Of physical pain and suffering. Of losing his mind, his body, his family, his life.

And I walked a painful road, too.

And it was a road I was not allowed to process, to talk about.

Imagine one day your spouse not knowing who you are. Imagine being thrust into bathing them and seeing their body and mind wither away right in front of you. Imagine being in charge of everything. Of timing meds to the minute and countless trips to the ER. Through the gratitude of still having him here there was pain. Loss. Sadness. Anger.

And to say that out loud leaves me incredibly vulnerable. For in saying those things out loud when he was here I was called selfish. Incapable. Controlling. And much worse.

This isn’t about names I was called but rather talking about the taboo subject of caregivers.

Because if caregivers complain it must mean they can’t do it. If they complain it must mean they aren’t grateful or selfless.

I want to break that taboo.

Caring for Michael’s physical, emotional, spiritual needs while he was sick was the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. It was the most profound, beautiful, and holy experience of my life.

And yet it cost me greatly. It cost me everything.

It broke me open and asked all of me.

And the breaking open was so hard and all I wanted was to be held by my big strong husband and I was the one holding him. No one at night to vent to. To sob in the arms of. My sweet beloved so broken from cancer, hardly ever able to say “I love you.”

I’ve processed the time of caregiver in my grieving. I’m healing from the shock and trauma of life changing overnight. Memories healed, forgiveness given, grace abundant. Gratitude for being the one to shepherd his body home.

Caregivers, I see you. I see the way you suck up your own pain so others don’t judge. So your spouse doesn’t feel bad. I see you stuff it down because you have no time for grief.

And we are like Mary. Caring for Joseph. Bathing the body of Jesus from the Cross.

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