January 9, 2015 | My Jottings
It has been 189 days since my Michael has been away from our home. I sometimes wonder if I will ever stop counting the days. Sometime soon I will go into detail about how he’s doing.
Today I wanted to briefly share a couple of things that have been deeply comforting to me, as we walk out this lonely, limbo-like journey we would never have chosen.
The first is an article my dear friend Linda sent to me, written by a woman named Carolyn Haynali. It’s called “Into the Hands of Strangers” and you can click the link to read it. I wept when I finished reading it. Carolyn Haynali wrote what I feel, what I have not been able to explain to some, and I was grateful to know there was someone out there who truly understands. I do know that there are probably many people who understand, but the details in her story matched some in mine, and her article hit home.
The second comfort is an email I received many months ago from my dear friend Ember. I asked Ember’s permission to share her words here, and she kindly said yes. She wrote this just before Michael was moved to the veterans home, right around the time I was close to falling apart from grief and exhaustion and guilt and hopelessness.
Today is St. Joseph’s day, and that has jogged my memory.
The other morning when I was praying for you and Michael, I saw a connection between Michael and St. Joseph. Joseph took care of Mary (as well as Jesus), very decisively and very considerately. Without words, and without being at the forefront of the story. He did what was necessary to safeguard her well-being. He protected and provided for her without needing words.
Michael, quiet and gentle, strong and full of faith like Joseph, has cared for you and travelled with you, comforted you and provided for you as Joseph did for Mary. This is not stopping. In this next stage of the journey, as Michael prepares to settle in to Silver Bay and make that unwelcome and difficult transition, he is still walking the way of Joseph looking after his Mary, doing what is necessary to protect and provide for your well-being; because you are exhausted, and you need him to do this for you — this is his way to look after you now. For this he does not need words or to be physically fit or cognitively sharp, he needs only grace. And Michael, like Joseph, is close to the wellspring of grace, because like Joseph he made the wise choice of welcoming Jesus into his heart and home.
On this St. Joseph’s day I pray especially for you and Michael, and I ask that the Holy Family will watch over you and walk with you as you work out this essential new care package. May all go well.
I have read these pieces more than a few times, especially at night when things slow down in our home and I miss him most acutely. I often wish I could just pick up the phone and talk to Michael before going to bed at night, but that has never gone well, so we only talk in the mornings. His mornings are better than his nights. Lewy Body Dementia has made our few evening conversations confusing and agitating for him, and heartbreaking for me, so I don’t call then.
I don’t know if there will ever come a day when I can put an end to the insane vacillating I do in my mind regarding Michael’s placement in a skilled nursing facility, wondering if there is a better way. I have at least come to this: I know there is another way, but I’m not convinced it’s a better way. In the meantime, the words and prayers and practical helps of friends near and far have been literal lifelines for me. I am so grateful.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a warm, peaceful weekend…