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What Can We Do?

What Can We Do?

Greetings one and all…

It has been a rather emotional weekend. Consequently, I am thankful for this lazy afternoon. It’s time to relax, take a deep breath, and reflect on life. Today, I need some quiet time to deal with an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness. Yesterday, my housemate and I visited our dear friend, Sarah. So much has changed since seeing Sarah last month (described in a previous posting). Four weeks ago, Sarah resided comfortably in a lovely assisted living community. We celebrated her 90th birthday in her apartment by sharing stories and memories. Today, she resides in a rehab center, struggling to recover from a broken hip. One unfortunate misstep resulted in a devastating detour for our dear friend. A harsh reminder that life can change in a heart beat.

I will never forget the image of Sarah as we walked into her room yesterday. She was seated in a wheel chair. Sleeping. She looked so tiny. So fragile. So vulnerable. I glanced at my housemate—her eyes were filled with tears (as were mine). I felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. Totally deflated. A bit dazed and confused. Even though I had anticipated a similar scene in my mind’s eye, it’s still tough when reality slaps you in the face. Standing in Sarah’s room, we didn’t have time to deal with the flood of emotions. Instead, we focused on being with Sarah.

Over the next hour, we chatted with Sarah about her situation. Despite the myriad of challenges, Sarah remains optimistic. Her motivating goal is to “get back home.” Then, she wants to travel to the mountains again—to savor the sights, the sounds, and the smells one more time. Listening to Sarah express her heart’s desires was hard as well. Hard because her goals may be beyond the realm of possibility. There are so many complicating and limiting medical factors that come into play. For now, we all just have to take one step at a time. There is no way to know how the path will unfold. Furthermore, Sarah has beaten the odds numerous times before. If anyone can bounce back from this unwanted detour, it’s Sarah!

Driving home, I needed to process everything I had seen, heard, and felt with my housemate. We talked. We cried. We sat in silence. We prayed for our friend. My housemate asked repeatedly, “What can we do? What can we do?” Upon reflection, I realized that there is little to be done. Sarah is receiving the needed medical care. The rehab center is lovely and well staffed. Family and friends are covering the logistics of daily life. So, what remains to be done? BEING with Sarah. Sharing the sacred moments. Sitting by her bedside. Listening. Laughing. Remembering. Dreaming. Hoping. Grieving. Praying. And savoring the moment. That’s what we can do. We can BE with Sarah. What a gift—for us!

I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane

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