My wife is coming home from the hospital today. She’s had surgery. Cancer surgery. She’ll be in pain. She’ll be weak and weary. She’ll need lots of help. I’ll be her helper. One hospital nurse murmured “Oh, Dear” when she learned the family caregiver is blind, but my wife told her not to worry, that I’m caring and capable.
It’s important for me to make things nice for my wife, to help her feel good when she’s feeling bad. I place fresh flowers on her bed tray. I soak her pajamas in Downy until they feel like butter. I make sure the clean, crisp bedding will lie gentle on her skin.
I’ll be part of the healing. I’ll rub her back when the rest of her hurts. I’ll tell a joke without trying to cheer her up. I’ll listen to what she wants and needs without thinking I know what’s best for her.
I’ll help by sharing myself. I too have cried, “This can’t be happening.” I too have lived with a body that betrays. But this is not about me. She helps with my struggle as I help with hers. We adapt to life as change. We are different, not less than, what we were before. We relearn that our strength comes from surrender and acceptance.
Where we unite on the most elemental level is that we have no answers. I clean the house, tell a joke and hold her hand because that’s all I can do. We are humbled by this life force. Like Gatsby, we “beat on, boats against the current.” Our challenge is to align with the tide.
My wife is coming home from the hospital today. She’ll be home for Christmas. Together, we find comfort and joy. We wish comfort and joy for you.
Note: Jeff’s favorite audio version of The Great Gatsby is NLS BARD catalog # DB 16147, read by the incomparable Alexander Scourby.