by – Sheri de Grom
My dad once told me he could always tell a city girl from a country girl by the way she walked. Dad said the city girl seemed to have more time to enjoy the process of getting where she was going and she wasn’t in a particular hurry to get there.
Then he would grin and say, “Now you country girls seem to always have a raging bull chasing you from place to place in those 3” high heels you wear. It’s a wonder you don’t break your neck.”
Dad and I often talked about my goals and the things I wanted to do with my life and never once did we talk about any of it being easy to accomplish. He’d had to work hard all his life and he knew I was willing to do the same.
I digress, running through the underground tunnels of the Capitol with documents hanging from the edges of my briefcase. Always another mission, one more legislator to convince, one more signature in support of whatever bill; adrenaline filled my days with purpose.
I often think about my dad and it’s always with love and tenderness. He encouraged me to accomplish every dream I concocted. I’m sure he wondered where some of my ideas came from.
Once upon a time, I told Dad, “Life’s not fair.” It’s not that anyone ever promised me life would be fair but I’d sure like to catch a break here and there as a caregiver to the man I love.
What am I to learn from God, taking away the man I love and leaving me an empty shell of his former self in his place? I love Tom, but how can I carry the load for both of us? I’m exhausted.
As others remind me, FAIR isn’t a word to be found in the Bible but I never went looking for it there. I’ve never believed God would give me more than I could carry.
I’m determined Tom won’t die on my watch but how can I guarantee that? I’m afraid that I’ll turn around and he’ll be gone. The very thought makes me want to run but I can’t imagine running without him at my side, but I would have to carry him.
I watch him sleep with his head covered up and the sheet drawn tight around his body as he hugs the very edge of the bed. What has penetrated his brain and caused him to be so fearful? He cannot verbalize his fears. The strong, determined leader I married has been stolen. But by whom? I don’t understand and I’m beginning to believe I never will.
Bailey’s confused when Tom hides his head. The 29 years we’ve been married, our animals [members of our immediate family] have always known when Tom is in the most distress].
I’m frustrated and oh so angry at the same time. It’s not Tom’s fault that doctors have made one mistake after another and have ignored symptom after symptom for 30+ years simply because he has a mental health diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Others ask how I’m getting along and I’m ashamed to tell them the truth. I sound selfish and self-centered. I want to research and continue my work with organizations that support veterans, the elderly, abused civilian military personnel being displaced from their work [especially women once they reach age 50 and are at the pinnacle of their career]. I know how to do these things and I want to do them.
Tom, Bailey and my gardens are my life and that’s not what I had planned at this stage of
my life. Of course, I wanted all three in my life but I also had plans for so much more.
I thought managing Tom’s mental health care and being his advocate was one of the most difficult challenges I would have in my life. I hadn’t a clue of what was to come. It did set the foundation for what is happening now.
I’ve spoken of reading 50 years of Tom’s medical records while preparing his VA Claim. I wish to share much about this process but in the meantime, it’s one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever taken on. The claim has now been turned in and been told we’ll hear something from the VA in 3 to 6 months.
I read of caregivers and how they dedicate their lives to the person or persons they care for. Then I wonder, am I being too demanding?
My prayer today, “Dear Lord, I humbly submit to you my confused thoughts and ask your help in making me stronger in all aspects of my life. Please let me be more patient and compassionate. The bottom line, it seems – the man I love has disappeared into a tinderbox of chronic illnesses and the only certainty I know is that every day is uncertain. Today, Lord, I ask for perseverance and the ability to do. The toy boxes that represent my life’s interests are in a mess and I’m responsible for that myself. I ask for Your will to be done. In Jesus’ Name, I Pray.
To my friends – thank you for reading with me.