Ok so I have been at battle with myself for about a week and a half.
I started to blog, writing from my heart about a topic I felt I needed to write about. Being a caregiver!
As I began writing and expressing my feelings, knowing it might not set well with some, I continued to write. It was what I was needing to express. I was not done with everything I wanted to share when I got blow #1, a dear, dear, friend John Galt was taken home to Jesus. He was Eagle Softball's #1 fan. He will be deeply missed. Blow #2, my grandma's companion she has had by her side, he lost his battle with cancer and also went home to Jesus. With a blink of an eye I got blow #3, one of our pastors at church was needed in heaven and went to be with Jesus. Pastor Don Wright touched Doug and I's life more than anyone will ever know. His smile will be etched in my soul forever.
My writing seemed to have come to a halt. I wanted to finish writing about being a caregiver, but could not get the words I truly wanted to express. Where were they, why could I not find what I wanted to share. So I hit save and let it be. Knowing I wanted to share what was on my heart about being a caregiver, why had I been silenced. Words come easy to me, I know how I like to express myself, and I know there are souls that I can reach. Helping them, guiding them, inspiring them, or just giving them something to read. I believe now it was a preparation, for me, to completely let it go, to be as real as I can be. Funny how we are always wanting to be in control, and writing I thought for sure was in my control, but then you are reminded there is a higher being that is in total control. There were seeds being planted in me that needed to sit and be nourished before I could complete my writing.
So as I share with you my outlook on being a caregiver, I remind you all, I write from my heart, I write for myself. It is part of what helps me with my coping, dealing with, or just getting through the day. It is also a release, so I am not holding it all in and can share, with hopes it will bring comfort to one more soul.
Let me speak about being a caregiver, things I have learned, been shown and have experienced.
As I was ultimately thrown into having this title. As you read don't get me wrong I hold the title very close to my heart. But as a caregiver I have learned a few things that I would like to share openly. I am going to be REAL, so I know some reading this won't understand what I have to say. Some reading this might even feel a bit angry with me. It is ok, because feelings are a "real" thing.
Caregiver~ a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.
This definition does not sit well with me, I believe there is so much more to the definition, Caregiver.
Three babies I was blessed with, yep full on caregiver. This type of caregiver is chosen, we know going into it we will be caring for our children. We have tried to prepare ourselves as best as we could, to be the best caregiver to them. We read the books, we might have even taken some "parenting" classes, man I should have taken those classes! We know in about 9 months, or 40 weeks we will carry the title of caregiver. There is time to get our mindset ready, we can make the changes that need changed in our lives to be fully ready. Putting people in place for helping us. Getting all the tools we might need in being this type of caregiver. This type of caregiver, to me, is a privilege
As we grow up we are watching every move our parents are making. We see how they are with their parents, and as they age we are reminded one day we could be caring for them.
We start out completely dependent on our parents, then it goes full circle to the point they could one day be completely dependent on us. My grandma and grandpa were amazing people. They had more unconditional love than I have ever seen. They raised eight kids on a farm, teaching them hard work and family values. As my grandparents began to age, I learned so much from my parents and aunts and uncles. What was instilled in them from their parents was shining through them as they had to care for my grandparents. Shifts were taken by each of them. Adult grandkids even took shifts. We had learned from the best about caring for our family. Once again, we had time to prepare ourselves, we had things in order for when the time came we would be ready. See this type of caregiver is a no brainer to me, family is always first, take care of those who have taken care of you. This type of caregiver, to me, is what a family does, it is love.
It is the unexpected sickness or disability that can be a challenge. Prepared, we are not. Tools put in place, they are not. This type of caregiver is thrown at you in a blink of an eye. Here I am only speaking of myself, my experience, my challenges, my thoughts.
Someone said to me the other day, how are you doing? I immediately started saying, WE are good, Doug feels pretty good. They stopped me and said, I asked how are YOU doing! With a smile on my face, I said, oh I am good, you know doing what I need to do. That question, HOW ARE YOU DOING, triggered a ton of thoughts when I finally got some alone time. I will come back to this.
This type of caregiver, well we don't have much time to think of ourselves. You are "on" 24/7. 24/7 you are caring for your loved one, physically, mentally, and when you are not doing that you are constantly wondering about the illness, along with working and trying to keep a household going. Plus, try your best to keep life normal for your kids. There are moments when I wish I had an off button, just a moment. A moment to have my old life back. My life before cancer came into it. For those screaming at me, please just keep reading, I told you I am being real! A moment where cancer is not running through my head. See when you are a caregiver of this type of sickness, every moment you are wondering what is next. What will we run into around the next corner. What will be over the next mountain we climb. When kids are part of the equation, you are constantly wondering how they are doing. So to the sweet person who asked me the other day, how are YOU doing. Here is my real answer:
I am ok. I am managing to the best ability I know how, with what has been put in front of me. I cry a lot! I cry a lot when I am alone. I do a good job of faking it, not all the time, but definitely do do it. I have moments of extreme anger. Extreme anger towards the one and only cancer. I get very frustrated when I want a moment for me and it is taken away because I have to take care of stuff. I have a lot of moments of sadness, mainly when my mind wanders and I think of my sweet girls and what they are having to experience at such a young age. Sadness seeing my best friend fight for his life. And have days he doesn't want to fight anymore. I have learned some great coping mechanisms that get me through the day. But I rely on my life motto, which is tattooed on my arm, "It's All Good!" It really is, even when it is bad, it truly is still good. Thank you for asking about me.
Being this type of caregiver, you have to be completely selfless. Selfless like you have never been. Bigger than being a mom or dad. You have to give up things, and realize it is ok. This type of caregiver I honestly thought I would never be. But now that I have lived it for over a year, I am completely grateful that I have experienced this type of caregiver.
My wedding vows read, through sickness and health unto death do us part. Yep, at that moment we either don't hear sickness, or we think of a little cold. It doesn't cross our mind it could possibly be something that puts us as a caregiver of our spouse. I again have had the comment to me, "I don't know how you are doing it." This is how I do it. See I stood at an alter in front of family and friends, but also God, and I said those vows to Doug. Vows I cherish, vows that when life gets hard you do not bail, vows that mean a commitment, vows that, if you read the fine print, might say in sickness, the really bad sickness. The sickness that will throw you into a caregiver role. There is NOT a choice in my mind, you just do it! You wake up each morning and you keep putting one foot in front of the other. You become stronger than you ever thought you could be. You choose to be! Be what you ask. Be in the moment, be a shoulder to cry on, be a pillar of strength for those around you who are weak, be the best partner to your spouse, be real, and be true, and be those always! Be an example to your kids.
Trust me I get weak, any caregiver in this role would. It is in the moment of weakness that I turn to my faith and my prayer warriors. Ok someone out there is saying, stereotypical you turn to "faith". I will yell from the top of my lungs, I will preach until my last breath, there is no way, NO WAY I would be where I am today without Christ in my heart.
This type of caregiver, well it is a blessing to be! So to all the caregivers that are caring for a loved one, young or old, sick or disable, I applaud you! I give YOU a standing ovation! You are the warriors that don't always get recognition. You are the heroes to many around. You think you are doing a "duty" but all the while you are teaching those around you. You , I said, YOU are amazing!
Becoming a "caregiver" of sorts, I have been shown many things about life. Things I feel a soul reading this needs to hear. Things I would say, I wish I would have known without cancer teaching it to me.
I truly am amazed how beautiful the flowers smell! Before cancer I rarely "stopped to smell the flowers". To much going on, places to be, people to see, no slowing down on my part. One of my favorite sayings, you are at where you are when you are suppose to be there. Which means, if you are going up Eagle Road and you hit every light red, do not fret. That is where you are suppose to be at that moment. Even if the clock is showing you possibly might be late. See The Lord has you where he needs you at every moment. Those red lights, the kids not ready to go when you are, they just might keep you from an accident.
Life is to precious to waste most of it on anger. Having put more joy in my life, has strengthened my love for my husband, more compassion towards my kids, and a tighter bond with our family. I can honestly say, cancer has made me fall in love with my husband all over at a deeper level. I look at him as if I am that teenage girl giddy for his attention. Before cancer we get comfortable in our ways. Married for so many years, you do your thing, I do mine. He has his friends, I have mine, we have some together. He wants this, I want that. Compromise seems to go out the door. But you come together when needed. Cancer has pushed us together. When I'm gone and I return home, I can't wait to put my arms around him. I can't wait to kiss on him. I can't wait to just be by him. Because there is that chance I won't have him to do that.
21 years we were married before cancer entered our life, 21 years I now wish I would have truly embraced our relationship, truly loved on him every night. 21 years I now wish I would not have cared how the towels were folded, that the bread was left open to dry out, that toothpaste in the cap is really ok. I can say as much hurt cancer has brought me this last year, it has strengthened my marriage, it has taught me to see the joy in my life, it has made me a stronger person.
It is Joy I would tell you all to look around for, look in your life, look at your kids, look at your spouse, your job, your everyday. Is there joy? Do you have joy in those things? I have realized how important that 3 letter word really is.
Joy~ a feeling of great happiness
That is what you are looking for. Find it everyday, find it in the most simplest form. Some days, the best part of my day that brings me the most joy, is just holding Doug's hand.
Life is such an amazing journey, we all need to trust. Trust in ourselves, trust in our spouses, trust in The Lord. I would tell you all don't wait on a crisis to find the Lord, or any higher being. Put Christ in your life now, it is quite amazing what he will do for you.
That one soul reading this that is feeling unworthy, you are wrong. YOU ARE WRONG! The Lord sees your beauty, your strength, your desire to find good. Take the first step, it is always the hardest. After that first step, it gets easier. I promise!
I am blessed to have my husband next to me, able to be his caregiver. This title is one of my best titles, right next to Mom.
Although I have moments of not wanting to be the caregiver, I thoroughly LOVE taking care of my husband.
In sickness and in health unto death do us part!
Love and Blessings to all!