• Deborah

God's Beauty Shines A Light In Dark Times

Updated: May 30, 2020

We wait all year to add container plant color to our patio to lift our spirits.

Memorial Day 2020 Amid COVID-19

Memorial Day typically sparks excitement for the summer season ahead. Michiganders all look forward to warmer weather, lighter clothing, fishing, camping, s’mores, hiking, boating, swimming, and vacations. This is not the case this year.

Michigan is still in lockdown because of COVID-19. I am so sick of hearing about this deadly virus and FTD. Yet, it is so much a part of my daily life that there is no escaping it. I cannot allow my mind to focus on how over 100,000 of our U.S. citizens have passed from this virus. Actually, the numbers are probably much higher. It just breaks my heart.

This has been a particularly challenging week for me. My husband’s decline seems to be speeding up, heading towards that inevitable conclusion. He had another TIA last week.

A New Plan To Deal With Grieving

What I find so difficult each day is watching this steady decline with no break from the heartbreak, and hiding my sorrow and grieving from my husband so he doesn’t get distressed.

As a compromise under the restrictions we find ourselves under, I have decided to take cry-breaks when my husband is sleeping deeply during the day. I’ll just go into the bathroom and release my tears and heartbreak in private. He isn’t cognizant enough to realize that I have been crying so he won’t be concerned. If I sat next to him and started crying, he would be distressed.

I cannot let my sorrow build to a point where it will need to come bursting out of me when I’ve had enough. I will release the pressure a little at a time along the way. At least I have a plan. What else can I do? There’s no one to relieve me so I can have time to myself.

A Surprise Visit From A Friend

As I’ve written about before, finding a healthy daily balance is my main goal. I had a reminder of this yesterday. A friend that I met in high school stopped by. She lives in South Haven and visits a local Holland chiropractor from time to time and I live nearby. It was lightly raining and she had to walk around my apartment building to come to my patio. Our apartment building is 55+ and is still on complete lockdown with no visitors allowed.

I was so happy that she made the effort to stop by and check on how we’re doing. We started chatting about how our hair desperately needs attention but salons are still closed. COVID-19 changed everything about how we live day-to-day. It adds more stress and concern to our lives.

Her husband needed a heart transplant years ago. She understands the stress of a serious illness for over a decade. I’m so happy for her that she and her husband got their miracle. He is living a full life now.

She reminded me though that at any point, they could be facing rejection of the heart, a hit to his immune system, or some other life-threatening condition. She said that eventually, the stress of her daily concern for her husband led to breast cancer. Thankfully she is well now, but she warned me to take good care of my health.

Add COVID-19 to our spousal Caregiving concerns and it’s a daily journey of sitting on the edge of your seat. We have both come to the conclusion that it’s best to feel blessed on a daily basis and not look too far ahead.

Highlights Of The Week

My brother and sister-in-law brought us two planters half-filled with potting soil and colorful annuals to brighten our view. I even got my husband to come and sit out on the patio to have a little visit. Of course, this took place with social distancing and masks on. The temptation to hug was so difficult! But, we managed to have a very pleasant brief visit.

The other highlights of my week were the calls from my husband’s all-inclusive care facility called, PACE. PACE® (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a nationwide program with sites in many states.

My husband and I receive a call on Mondays from his Physical Therapist (she checks on any health condition changes for Rich and how I am doing as a full-time Caregiver). Rich has virtual PT on Wednesday afternoons. On Thursdays, I receive a call from our Social Worker. These interactions are to monitor all of our needs during this challenging time.

They have done such a great job reassuring us while we have been in lockdown for the past eleven weeks. PACE gives me security and confidence that while we may be home alone dealing with his weekly or daily declines, we are not alone. All we have to do is reach out and they will be there to do whatever they can to help.

Do Not Ignore Your Mental Health Needs

Another Angel on my list is my Counselor, Maureen. We have developed a deep level of trust over the past fifteen months. Making a phone call to Senior Reach for assistance with my mental health was probably the best thing I did to help myself as a Caregiver and spouse for someone terminally ill.

To keep us safe and to give us the best emotional and mental health and quality of life that we currently have is of utmost importance. Please, never ever let other’s opinions about reaching out for help being a sign of weakness deter you! Knowing that you are sinking into depression and raising your hand for assistance is a sign of strength and self-love, not a sign of weakness.

If you have a broken bone, you wouldn’t hesitate to seek medical assistance and reset it, the same should be true of your broken heart or broken emotional health.

Find A Healthy Nourishing Focus

Until our Stay At Home Order is lifted, currently we have a target date of June 12th which could be extended again, Rich and I have to be content with looking at the world through our sliding glass doors.

Our local suet-eating-Robins visit frequently throughout the day, drinking and bathing in the birdbath. We have two little chipmunks, I call them Chippies, scurrying around the patio, picking up leftovers from our woodpecker block. I have placed our large Florida rock next to the birdbath so they can get drinks, too.

The Eastern Gray Squirrels visit every day. Although, most of our Gray Squirrels are various colors not just gray like you might think. We have what I like to call, “Hershey” squirrels that are a rich deep chocolate brown. We also have brown-and black-colored squirrels, black squirrels, and grayish-brown squirrels. We probably have everything in between as well.

As I look out at our patio, I feel blessed to see all the green of nature as a backdrop to all of the colorful annuals. Yesterday I planted all but a few tiny impatiens. Did I overdo it with all the flowers?

Not from my point of view. We have to find a healthy balance. If you want to see and focus on God’s love and beauty, then take steps to keep your mind, body, and spirit healthy.

Watching the flash of orange and black from the Orioles coming to our grape-jelly feeder, I find joy. I close my eyes and thank God for the visits. By connecting with nature and trying to maintain a grateful heart, I then send love into the universe. Try it for yourself and see what you receive back.

Until next time,

Be well, be blessed.