I had dinner with a friend last weekend. We talk periodically but not as often as we once did, so we always have to play catch-up. She asked how Billy is doing, and I gave her my short answer - about the same. Steady decline but no big dips lately. Then she asked how I am, and I told her I'm fine. She looked at me and said, "How are you really? How do you cope with this all the time?" She's been caring for her sister-in-law who is showing big signs of dementia, and she knows some of the stress involved.
The truth is that I do pretty well nearly all of the time. I don't take credit for it because it's the constant prayers of so many who pray when I'm prayed out. I'm like many of us - I know that I can give all of this to God, and I still try to handle things on my own. There are times, though, that it all gets to me. I had some time to myself this weekend, and I made a mental list of things I miss about my husband. We were like most couples who spend over 25 years together. Some things he did made me nuts, and I feel certain I got on his last nerve at times, but most of all, we enjoyed being together. I miss the easiness of being together. I miss the companionship. During the summer time, couples are taking trips together. We looked forward to our empty nest and having time and maybe more money to travel. Billy felt the continental US had plenty of places to visit, and I agreed. I still like to go places, but I so wish I could share the experience with him.
I also miss his sense of humor. Billy made me laugh for our entire relationship, and sometimes he still does. He was witty and smart and he could not help himself if he had something funny to say - he had to say it. He cracked himself up! He loved to trade barbs with our brother-in-law, Shawn.
I miss his mini-lessons on history. That was another thing he couldn't hold back on...if he thought I didn't know something, he had to share it with me or quiz me on it. Every trip we took as a family turned into a lesson about US history in some way. In spite of their complaints, I believe Shelley and Andrew loved it.
I miss sharing my bed with him - the intimacy of sleeping with someone for 30 years goes way beyond sex. When he would go on a trip, I didn't sleep that well. I missed his breathing. After we moved him into the nursing home, sleeping was harder. I'm accustomed to sleeping alone now, but it's not the same.
So, I had a pity party the other night, and then I got up the next morning, thought about the all the blessings I have, looked at my puffy eyes (another reason I don't do pity parties too often), and I got back on track. I am thankful to still have Billy here with us. He knows his family and friends even if he doesn't talk. His smile and expressions show that he knows. He laughs readily still. We don't always know why he's laughing, but that's okay. He still hugs us and kisses us, and he makes eye contact. All of those are good things. I also know how blessed I am to have been married to the person I love and who loves me. Some people don't even like their spouse, and some caregivers are trapped taking care of a spouse that did not treat them well. I am honored to be the one who cares for Billy. God has known our whole lives how this would work out, and He helped prepare me for that.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.