Today was one of her good days, and the old beautiful smile of hers returned as well as the desire to put something of substance in her stomach instead of my constant pleas to eat. I also learned that the fear of the many horrors they told us about had not manifested yet, and I thanked God for the break in schedule. Instead of a full week full of anxiety dreading the side effects, we got a small dosage of what was to come, and for that I am thankful.
I have much to learn that much I realize now and accept. While a chance comment from one of her dear friends that I was a “robo husband” hurt my feelings for a second, the reality was that it hurt because it was true. I am constantly struggling between being a caregiver rather than a caretaker. I know for her what’s more important is not someone who can attend to all her physical needs but someone who can replenish her with love and care (a gentle reminder from another good friend of hers).
I am not going to lie, that’s exactly what I am scared of. Between constantly wanting her to be comfortable and trying to provide her all the comforts of the world, I am worried I am not up to the task, that what I am doing is hollow and meaningless. This is no longer someone who is sick, but my wife and we are going to spend the rest of our lives together. What scares me is not knowing what will happen, and when the side effects will take form and then it hits me that I am again failing to be in the NOW. I cannot control what she will go through nor can I stop the process. And then it hits me that I have to be full myself before I can empty myself into her. I need to do what makes me, ME or I will just remain a caretaker.
I know she knows that I love her deeply but the reality is I need to show it more than just feeding her medications at the right time or filling the fridge with her favorites. I have to stop being robotic or worse just a caretaker. I also see now that is how I am dealing with her pain, by compartmentalizing her into a schedule which does not allow for her to express her emotional pain and frustration. I have to let her have the slice of pizza without the admonition to not put red peppers on it or take her medication as I scheduled. I just have to let her be, let her get it out, whatever she is feeling because the cancer is not just physical, it’s also taken over her mind. I cannot be a Robocop, not allowing her to go through all the motions she needs to in order to get a grasp of what has happened to her.
As I struggled with my guilt, I received a wonderful email from a stranger who encouraged me to go on, to keep on writing to figure out what we are going through and suddenly that one page email reminded me that I have all the tools to make her get through this and that is through friends, family but most importantly me (as self-important as that sounds).
And so a week ends, and we begin anew again tomorrow. I think I know what I must do, and for now that is enough.
To the nameless friends and strangers who gave me the idea for this post: Thank You.
- Keeping a Diary Can Help You Manage Pain (everydayhealth.com)