God bless my fellow caregivers. Both the ones in action, and recovery. It’s further proof that humans need connection; we understand ourselves via the collective.
This week one such cancer caregiver – whose spouse continues to live with disease – shared past words that still spoke to him. “It’s very easy to get lost while caring for someone. I had a discussion with someone a few weeks back, and a point was raised that supporters are as sick, if not sicker than the person they are caring for. Between working, household responsibilities, and the person we are caring for, we get lost in all of that and often lose our own identities. That’s exactly what happened to me.”
I am not sure I got lost. But I definitely felt I was watching myself from above, on more than one occasion. I’ve written before about my self care – sitting still on the steps.
The conversation dove deeper, with these words from another caregiver. “A friend told me when you are close to the target of their grief sometimes you get hit.”
Now this one sings to me. It’s why my fingers freeze over keys. Why I mourn, when missing Beardo still feels whole and peaceful. My peace. It’s been fucked with.
My counsellor recently landed this one in my lap: “What is said to us is only true, if we feel it about ourselves.” I did pretty well with that one when I was watching the destructive power of disease and fear. I could leave the statement with the owner, even if it drained me. I hear the same from some of my fellow caregivers, and we bolster each other in this regard.
But the judgement – the handed grief – in which I have found myself swimming after peace landed, well I have not known what to do with it. I suppose it shows my sickness, the vulnerability I laid bare to those who were the same. Or so I thought. Those whom also watched a passage unfold, that we could not control. Did my sickness – my host of responsibilities – afford me a gift of which others now feel cheated? I got to play it to the max, testing every limit even if I landed flat on my face, over and over? I do know that there is nothing more I could have done. I danced it all. And I do know that the waters in which I swim now, feel full of questions about what could have been. They flow far into the horizon behind me. Further than I have certainly ever been. Forget about monkeys; that’s not my sunset.
I don’t have a #metoo story, other than that creepy great uncle who showed me how to play pool. But when my fellow caregivers speak, I am reminded.
Tonight, an angel came to me in the form of words from another collective. “Write them a letter of good bye. Thank them for Chris. Tell them you are taking care of you (now). Wish them peace.” So I did. And ritual became truth.