Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Nevermores

This week I have been plagued by thoughts I can only describe as a strange feeling of grief in my heart for my loving spouse. It's strange, because the event that is causing the grief hasn't even happened. And yet, I am feeling the suffocating impact on my heart already.

I want to cry; in fact, I become so close to crying that I can taste the saltiness of my tears, but the relief tears can bring escapes me. I try to keep the tears bottled up as a treasure, so I will have plenty to relieve me when they are most needed. When they will really matter. When they will celebrate his life and honor his death.

Those who are in the act of caregiving understand this phenomenon of grief. It feels like piecemeal grieving. Here a little. There a little. And it becomes apparent the first time a "nevermore" is introduced in our lives. These eventually may include:
  • nevermore will he drive the family car
  • nevermore will he work to provide for our household
  • nevermore will he climb up and fix the roof or mow the lawn
Then somewhere down the line, you are struck with others...
  • nevermore will he walk unassisted, or walk at all
  • nevermore will he sleep in your bed, or even in the same room or house
  • nevermore will he eat your cooking, or taste his favorite casserole
  • nevermore will he walk through the door of your home, and be greeted by his happy canine friend
  • nevermore will he sit by you in church, and hold your hand during prayer
How many more nevermore's can I bear?
  • nevermore will he tell stories or jokes to his grandchildren and friends
  • nevermore will he say "I love you" and "forgive me" at the end of each day
  • nevermore will he send his heartfelt feelings and petitions to God in prayer
The only way I can survive these crushing "nevermore's" is to embrace the "forevermore's". I know they are waiting to comfort me when I need them most.
  • Forevermore he will sing God's praises (with the voice he always wished he had)
  • Forevermore he will pray and worship with God's people (on a beautiful mountain far surpassing the ones he loved on this earth)
  • Forevermore he will never be parted from or have to say good-bye to his friends (making it the best "camp meeting" he ever attended!)
 Whether grief comes suddenly or like a slow-motion train wreck, it can only be endured with faith that brings these cherished rewards.

When I find myself avoiding the past, consumed with the present, and dreading the future, all at the same time, there is this welcome time realm of the "forevermores" that beckons me into its loving arms and buoys me up with faith and hope.

Yes, I can bear the "nevermore's" because there is a "forevermore" that outshines them all.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Dean's Mission

Dean had a dentist appointment this week to fill a cavity in one of the five teeth he has left in his mouth. It ended up that almost the whole tooth was lost, but they filled and capped it anyway. This seems to signify what his health care looks like these days. Just making the best we can of what is left of his old, shattered body. Having a tractor run over you when you're 54 doesn't look pretty on a 71-year-old man.

I met with his nurses and staff for another care plan after we returned from the dentist. The cafeteria manager reported that his appetite hasn't suffered with his dental issues (that provided a chuckle from most in the room, including me). He is asking for seconds less often though, so that is good to hear from the diabetes angle.

It was then reported that he is not using his bi-pap machine much at night, which is designed to help him get better sleep and provide him with more needed oxygen. I was afraid his use would be minimal. It probably accounts for his sleepiness during the day. We will see the pulmonlogist again next month to once again give him a pep talk about staying on the oxygen.

He is staying in the wheelchair though thankfully, and using the oxygen that comes loaded on the back of it. They really feel he should stay in the wheelchair while he's in the facility, because he's just safer in it, due to potential falls.

I repeated my desire for him at some point to be able to return to church services once a week. They understood that request and are continuing his physical therapy with that goal in mind. He seems to have enough strength to walk around in his room, to and from the bathroom. So there is hope he can walk in and out of church, especially with the winter weather almost over.

The highlight moment at the care plan meeting was when they showed me their small-town newspaper with a picture of Dean on the front page! It showed him being read to by five eager third-graders from the local school. They were celebrating Read Aloud Week by taking a field trip there and reading Dr. Zeus books to the residents. There he was with the kids, all of them wearing Cat in the Hat headgear. I'm sure he was a hit with many of them that day.

I had remembered to bring a green "leprechaun" hat from home that Dean had worn before on St. Patrick's Day. He immediately put it over his regular winter cap (which he wears day and night) and we headed to the dining room. It was so nice to see all the smiles he got from everybody there when they saw him in this silly green cap. His table mate remarked that he was the "biggest leprechaun" he'd ever seen.

This brought home to me even more that God has a purpose for Dean being where he is. I've been trying to tell him he's found a new mission field. But this day just verified it to me even more. If he can make life a little more bearable for others there, it will all be worth it in the end. I'm so proud of my missionary husband.