My deeply loved grandfather had just had a heart attack, 5 years after having colon cancer. He was older when I came along, and my parents didn't want me to be blind-sided if something happened. I was incredibly blessed to have him for 21 more years, but I spent my childhood thinking everytime I hugged him might be my last. When he did go to heaven at age 88, it was suddenly and I didn't get to say goodbye. Maybe that would have helped my grief process - but as an adult, I came to realize that there was no way I would ever "be ready" for my grandfather to die.
I don't blame my parents. Their disabilities have given them an incredibly practical and straightforward look at life and death, and their faith gives them a peace that helps them look hard things in the face and call them what they are. I've inherited a lot of their pragmatism, and for the most part that serves me well.
Except for now.
Now, as I read and watch for symptoms indicating the next stage of caregiving.
Now, as I try to cherish the good times and rejoice in the good days, without the heaviness of what I'm seeing hanging over my head.
Now, as I try to balance my role as caregiver with my relationship as wife. The ever-practical caregiver gets through the day and makes decisions. The wife misses her husband, cries herself to sleep, and has trouble catching her breath.
The lesson I've learned in this is an extension of what I learned with my grandfather: There's no such thing as being ready for a thing we don't want to happen!
We've all read the Gospels and shook our heads at the shock of the apostles when Jesus was crucified. He tried to prepare them. They shook off the warnings. Sure, there were elements of false expectations of the Messiah. But there was plenty of just plain old human nature. We don't like the idea of something, so we pretend we didn't hear what we just heard. That's why denial is usually the first stage of grief.
I haven't figured out completely how to process this lesson yet. In part, as my last post discussed, I acknowledge the wrongness of what is happening. I've learned I have to let myself feel the grief that cycles in and out, because I'm processing gradual losses. (This is why ambiguous grief is often considered the hardest type of grief to process.) So I let myself feel what I feel.
BUT I'm also determined not to let grief steal the joy of good moments though, so I am learning to find ways to just embrace a moment or an hour or a day that comes along, and just BE. I'm learning to live in the tension of Ecclesiastes 3:4 ... that there is
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;