It is a fact of this life that “things” happen. Things that we do not want to happen, things we fear, things we run from and yes, things we love.
I have spent a predominant part of my life not accepting what is but fighting against it. I was always rushing to the future, hoping that my present reality would change quickly, that “things” would get better.
I remember having a Jyotish (Hindu Astrology) reading in 2005. A dear friend gifted me with the reading. It was at a low point in my life and the life of my family. I needed to hear that “things” would improve.
I didn’t hear that. Instead, I heard that “things” were actually going to get worse. That, although the current crisis would recede, there was another one on the horizon.
That other crisis was the health of my husband.
He was a difficult man. He had not experienced a happy childhood and he had no father to emulate when he became a father. I remember him telling me he didn’t want a professional wife as they didn’t take good care of the family. But then he told me he didn’t want a family. So ………. I was a little confused about what, exactly, he wanted from me. I learned early on that the family he wanted me to take care of, was him.
As he aged and his illness became more apparent, I accepted it less and less. I didn’t want to be a primary caregiver, not being a nurse-like type. I was impatient with him, as his illness got worse and worse.
The last thing I wanted to do was to put him in a nursing home. Unfortunately his disease progressed to the point that taking care of him at home was no longer possible. I tried to find assistance for home care and had no luck at all. In order for me to work, he would have needed someone to be with him all day and for me to be awake all night. Not possible. Still I didn’t accept this.
Finally, even though I knew he did not want to go, I placed him in a nursing home where he could be protected from falling, crawling upstairs to go to bed and where he could receive therapy to live as well as he could for the time he had left. He hated it. He was there 18 months before he died. And that 18 months was horrific for him and me.
I went as often as I could which was every other day. I couldn’t go every day and keep my sanity. In those times when I couldn’t face it, I would take longer between visits and that would make him sad. But I needed space and I knew I had to have it. Keeping my sanity was important.
The day the nurse on duty called me to tell me that my husband could no longer swallow anything was a horrid day. She asked about a feeding tube and if we wanted to go that route. The reverse of that would be letting him die from malnutrition and dehydration. What a choice – feed him and keep him alive even though he couldn’t walk, talk, go to the bathroom, express emotion, eat and drink. Keep him alive? Oddly enough, we had never talked about his desires when it came to this point. I knew if I brought it up, he would cry and I did everything I could not to make him do that.
I told her no feeding tube. No falsely keeping him alive in a diseased shell of a body and thereby making his torment last longer. A week later he died.
And did I accept that? Not at first. I sat in my chair and I knit socks. I couldn’t cook, eat, think or do basically anything. I managed to go to the funeral home and arrange for his cremation. That was all I could do. A few days later my son and I picked up his ashes. Because he knew I couldn’t, my son carried them to the car. We put Dad in the back seat. When I got home, I placed his ashes in the hall closet in the foyer. I told him he got to come home for Christmas. I accepted that.