Caregiver Reflections

Reading Kamla’s post, I recognize how precious my time with Chris was.

How lucky I was as a long term caregiver to still be in a relationship with someone who loved me.

There were times, I admit, when I was all too focused on getting the laundry done or the fridge cleaned out.  When keeping busy was my way of ignoring the fact that I was not free to go outside into the fresh air; to go for a walk, to saunter down to Starbucks and read a paper while sipping a latte.

I prayed a lot.  “Pray for courage, Maggie.” Father Obiwumma advised.  “I pray for grace,” I said.  Grace to accept that this was my decision.  Grace to be cheerful, loving, helpful.

Grace to remind myself that being entrenched in this apartment 23 of 24 hours a day was not anyone’s fault.  It was my choice.

It’s amazing how hard it can be to remember that sometimes.

Sometimes, I’d get cranky.  Then Chris would crack a joke; clown for me, make a face or deliver some harmless, lewd comment.  And we would laugh. And in that moment I would truly know how fortunate I was to be with this man on this final journey, to be his chosen companion.

We sat together for hours every day, holding hands, watching movies, Chris giving me a constant flow of data about the actors and locations and sometimes even the history behind the movies.  He cried when brave men did great things.

He cried when Doc Holliday died in Tombstone.  Not sobbing.  Just wiping his eyes and huskily asking for a coffee or fresh water.

After the TV was turned off, we’d say the rosary together.  It was what he wanted.  I would kneel beside his bedside and we would say the decades together.

I was lucky to be in that relationship right up to the end.  Lucky to have all those months and years to nurture and hold him, to understand that I was losing him.

I don’t know how Kamla copes, after losing Jack so suddenly.  How people who lose their loved ones in an accident or sudden illness or suicide manage their grief.

I miss Chris.  Miss him terribly.  But I can’t help feeling, reading other caregiver websites, that somehow, I was one one of the lucky ones.

yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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