I have been away from writing for a few weeks. Holidays and all, yes ...
But I have also been thrust into the world of caregiving, a world I have enjoyed being away from since the intensive days of motherhood and having kids at home.
My husband, Chuck, has had chronic pain from a failed hip replacement a couple years ago. So he had back surgery and a revision hip surgery in December. Within a week of each other. Right before Christmas.
He is a champ and has been relatively self-sufficient, but there are things he needs me to do. These things take up more of my time than I am used to, and I find myself anticipating the day when he no longer needs me for some of the basics.
My anticipation, my looking forward to the day when I can pass these acts of care back to Chuck, has caused me to ponder the lives of so many for whom the caregiving seems endless.
New moms and dads.
Parents of children with special, critical needs.
Spouses of partners with chronic illnesses or the ravages of age.
Foster parents, childcare providers, those who work in nursing homes.
Caregiving is an act most of us will engage in during our lives; some of us by choice, others by circumstance.
Caregiving can be beautiful and life-giving.
It can also be brutally hard, draining, frustrating and endless.
There are so many quotes and chirpy statements about the power, the goodness, the loving sacrifice of caregiving.
One person said, "The simple act of caring is heroic."
Yes, true. But man oh man, that does not touch the pain of it all. And here, I am not referring to my situation at all. I have barely experienced what I know so many live with on a daily, hourly basis.
The constant caregivers are the true heroes.
But that kind of adulation can only hold so much weight in a life given away for the sake of another. That kind of care is hidden, quiet, lonely, draining, time-consuming, energy-sapping, frustrating ... and so beautiful at the same time.
I want to give a shout out to the caregivers today.
If you are one, here's to you. I admire your tenacity and tenderness. I have had a tiny taste of your weariness, too. I see you and I cheer you on.
If you have a caregiver in your life, what a lucky human you are. I know it is humbling, hard, humiliating even, to need the care of another human. But we all do, or will. It is one of the most difficult, universal truths of being a person. We need each other.
If you have a caregiver in your life and can thank them, do. They will soak up those words like a dry sponge.
If you know a caregiver, send them a note. Buy them a coffee, send them a meal, take them out for a glass of wine (or two!). Practice seeing them, acknowledging their work, reminding them that they are more than just the care they provide. Give them space and respite to just be. I am confident we have no idea how much this could breathe life into a weary soul.
We are here to carry each other's burdens, to hold each other's weaknesses, to walk beside each other on this journey called life ... and in the end, to walk each other home.
Here's to the caregivers!!