For many years I was a wife and a caregiver for my late husband. He had Fronto-Temporal Degeneration or "Dementia". Many of those days are chronicled here on the blog that was first called "Go to Your Corners and Come Out Fighting." A couple of years into the battle, I changed the title to "Go To Your Corners and Come out Loving." At that point, I realized that one can not fight the disease. You can only learn to cope. So I used this blog as my therapy group, my friend, my replacement for him and spent many hours hoping I could help other families in the same situation.
A little over three years ago, my husband at that time Gary ceased to know me. His body began curling up and experiencing atrophy. It was hell for him physically and my emotional state went through the same hell. I wish the disease on no family.
When I think back on that time, I was experiencing grief. It is hard to love someone whose brain doesn't know you. The person you love is no longer there. I was grieving as if he was dead. But, I still had to go to the memory unit and look at him. The healthy mind experiences a special kind of confusion that cannot be explained. I was losing the only man I had ever truly loved and I was being devastated financially.
I remember praying for God to take him and make him whole. Eventually, Gary died and had a peaceful departure to Heaven. My work was done. All I had to do was heal. It was not that difficult for me as I had lost him long before the actual death.
Many people thought I should wait a year before I made any big decisions. No one can tell you how to live your life...no matter how well-meaning they are.
Fast forward to my life now. I had a beautiful wedding two weeks ago and married a man that I would only have dreamed of a few years ago. He is kind, healthy and I am very much in love.
He understands times when I still get teary over old pictures or am reminded of good times. He is precious to me.
A friend called me last weekend and asked if I could consult with her neighbor who had just put her husband in memory care. She was experiencing the range of emotions affiliated with that hell-time. I got a lump in my throat and knew that I had to say "yes" to the request. There is a reason I lived through that time....I have to help others. My prayer is that I can be of some comfort to her.
Today, at lunch, somehow the conversation turned to our life stories. I was meeting with a colleague whom I had never met. I was able to quickly tell the whole "I was a caregiver story." I did so with little emotion and was able to articulate some of the events. I realized that my life as a caregiver will never be over....it merely changed from being a full-time caregiver with sleepless nights to the role of being called upon to help families cope. I am okay with that role.
Meanwhile, I am loving life. Part of the comfort I can give people in the same situation is to tell families that God is always there and taking care of those who cannot do so themselves. There is hope for a new life. I am living proof. Thank you, Lord for the miraculous life.