(This is a chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)
One day in August of 2010 a few months before my husband’s death and in the midst of the chaos of care-giving I was having a good day. The weather was beautiful and free of all the heat and humidity we had been experiencing. Secondly, my husband was having a good day, and he had experienced a good therapy session. Finally, I had just finished reading some letters that my husband, Wayne, and I had written to each other in 1970 and 1971 before we were married.
Wayne and I met and dated from April of 1970 to the end of the school year, and then we dated again in the next school year until our marriage on July 30, 1971, I was a teacher then, and I went home to my parent’s house during the summers. He went to summer camp for the Army Reserves both summers. The first summer, I also spent 6 weeks involved in a summer mission program, and the second summer I was at my parent’s home preparing for our wedding in my home town and state while he was getting things squared away in Wisconsin for our first home.
On that particular August day in 2010 I was inspired to read our love letters which we had written to each other those two summers when we were separated while dating. It proved a real joy to me to reread those letters that day, and I found myself smiling often. Those letters reminded me that the first summer Wayne was more sure of his feelings for me than I was for him. I knew I liked him, but I needed to be sure about love and marriage. The next summer when we were corresponding we were engaged, and both of us were sure of our love for each other. It was fun to reread about our young love.
I thought that rereading these old letters might make me feel a little sad thinking back to those days and comparing it with the life we were now living dealing with Wayne’s neurological condition. I guess it did a little. We had matured so much since those early days, however, and I was glad for that growth in maturity. I actually probably felt more sad about no longer being able to do some of the fun things we had done together during our “empty nest” years.
So reading those letters put a smile on my face that day. It reminded me of what was, and it reminded me of the beginning of our love. I love reading inspirational (Christian) romance books as a way to relax. Reading these letters was a little like that, except it was my story. That day, I had a smile on my face.
Dear Christian caregiver, terminal disease can change a relationship with a caregiver and his or loved ones who are ill. Take time often to remember the love that was and still exists. It will lighten the load.