One of the difficulties of caregiving for my husband especially in the last couple of years of my husband’s life was leaving home and going away. On May 17, 2009 I journaled the following words:
“Yesterday at my husband’s suggestion we went out to eat. He so seldom wants to go anywhere let alone suggest it, so I readily agreed. It was very windy, however, and so we took the wheelchair. By the time I had wrestled the wheelchair in and out of the trunk of the car, gone through the buffet line for my husband and then for myself, and then basically carried on a conversation with myself during lunch; I began to wonder if it was worth it.”
Sometimes my husband, Wayne and I were able to go out to eat with some of my husband’s family at their suggestion. That was enjoyable especially on cold weather days, as it gave my husband and I a chance to get out of the house. There was a kind of loneliness in doing this also, however. Even though I knew they cared, nobody really understood fully what we were going through.
I missed being able to just jump into the car and easily go and do what we wanted to do. Now going out to eat with my husband’s siblings involved me helping my husband to the car with his walker and later his wheelchair and putting his walker or wheelchair in and out of the car wherever we went. Since we usually went to a buffet, it also involved me having to help my husband pick up his food. When I saw other couples both in good health I was happy for them. It did make me long for those days when that was true for us also, however. Further I was often frustrated that most of my in-laws let me struggle with going through the buffet line alone with my husband, Wayne.
Most Thursday nights we would go to our local son’s family’s home for supper and the evening. Often my mother-in-law and sister-in-law would be there also. My son was always so helpful getting my husband in and out of the car and into their house. First we did this with a walker, and we would help my husband up one step. Later we had to use a portable ramp and the wheel chair. My son was always helpful when he was with us, but so often I struggled alone when we left home to go places.
I always knew that there was a divine purpose for all that was happening in my husband’s and my lives. I knew all things would work for my ultimate good as a child of God. I knew I still had overflowing blessings in my life, but that did not stop the sadness in my heart at seeing my husband’s body deteriorate. It did not stop the sadness of me needing to take on more and more responsibilities that used to be my husband’s responsibilities in our marriage.
I certainly did not choose the caregiving role that God had assigned to me those years during my husband’s illness, but I do know that God was with me each step of the way. As difficult as it was, I would do it again. I had to cling very close to the Lord during those days, as I still need to do now. The Lord God had to give me the grace and strength for this role. He was with me in my unique struggles. He guided me, loved me, and forgave my many moments of impatience.
Dear Christian Caregiver, the Lord God is with you also. He knows your unique struggles and heartaches. Lean into His strength. Trust His love for you.