Before Rodger came to live with us I thought I knew who I was. Up until that time I had a great track record of weathering life’s challenges. When faced with hardship I did what I had to do to solve the problem or adapt to the changes. I cried and prayed often but never did I feel as if I’d lost myself.
I didn’t know I’d become infected by his illness too.
When he wandered I followed in his footsteps. When he lashed out at me I lost my temper and shouted back only to be overwhelmed with guilt once the storm had passed. When he refused to bathe for days I’d find myself staring at my disheveled reflection in the mirror. Exhausted from lack of sleep and afraid of what he might do if I left him alone long enough to take a shower I looked, and probably smelled, as bad as he did. Time after time we were admitted to the hospital together. Him to a bed me to an uncomfortable chair beside him. We spent days and weeks together in that place.
As he continued to fail it felt as if pieces of me were falling away too. I had to face the truth. We would lose this battle.
When Rodger died he took the person I used to be with him and left behind a part of himself and this changed and hopefully smarter me. The one writes our story. The one who would do it again for a family member if needed. The one who would not expect more from either of us than we are capable of giving.
Blessed be the caregivers, both who you are now and who you are becoming.