I’ve been a caregiver for almost 6 years now and I’ve functioned that way in several different ways from hospitals to nursing homes, rehab hospitals and finally home. I’ll be the first to admit (as most will) that it’s not an easy job. At times I miss the BC (Before the Crash) life that I had. Being a caregiver offers no breaks, a huge loss of freedom and major changes. It can be so difficult to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Areas that were not a struggle before, are now front-and-center-in-your-face. One thing that many do not realize about caregiving is that even the bright spots can be overshadowed by the situation. It’s almost like you aren’t allowed to enjoy the pleasures of life like others, or at least not to the same degree of enjoyment. But tonight I had a great bright spot and I held on to it because I didn’t want to miss it.
My daughter and the grand-babies were here for the evening. Well, I’ve been trying to get out and walk each evening and my daughter has also started walking for health reasons. Tonight we walked through the park to the splash pad on the other side and let the grands play in the water. It was so much fun watching them run and play and giggle as they got splashed by cool water. We laughed a lot – and that was nice.
As we began walking back to the apartment my grandson took my granddaughter’s hand. I was trying to capture a picture so my daughter began pushing my son in his wheelchair. That’s not an easy task as he weighs about 150 and the chair another 80. I found myself caught between the two – my daughter in front pushing my son and my two grandchildren behind. I was listening to the children’s chatter and heard things like Eli telling Kyrie that he was the big brother and she had to stay on the pathway because he didn’t want her to fall in the icky water. In that moment I took a mental freeze-frame shot. I wanted to savor it, remember it and let it be pleasurable. It was just a perfect evening and I gave myself permission to enjoy it.
As caregivers we can get so caught up in taking care of others that we fail to miss these kinds of bright spots. Our schedules and lives can be so rigid that they shroud the pleasantries. It’s okay to enjoy some things in life; it’s not against the rules. Maybe I’m learning how to live a little bit. It’s certainly not what I had imagined, and it’s definitely not the way I had my latter years planned. But it’s okay to laugh, play and enjoy things. There’s no telling what tomorrow might bring – how well we know that – so when we have these little bright spots — hold on to them — let them be bright, don’t dim them with the gravity of the circumstances. It’s okay to live.