I had every intention of following up Caregiver Journey Pt 1 with my husband’s first knee surgery, a story I’ve repeated over and over thru the years. But the words just wouldn’t come. I was overly emotional, in fact, and was at a loss as to why . . . until I looked at the calendar – May 14. I didn’t even realize it. That was the date Marlon died, but there’s so much more to that date. So many ‘coincidences’ that I chose to retell the story as My Caregiver Journey Pt 2 in the hope you’ll find some faith, comfort or even some small relief.
Life is simply a series of moments, moments that become minutes that become days, that become weeks, that become years, that become Life. Do you ever wake up and wonder “How did my life become this?” Or, “Why did this happen?” I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, especially after the recent, unexpected passing of my husband. With his memorial now behind me, another question keeps popping up in my head.
What am I supposed to do now?
Now that my best friend, my husband, my soulmate, is gone, so are all the plans and dreams we had. So, what am I supposed to do now?
Then I saw this post at Miss Mustard Seed’s blog, “Amy’s Manifesto”, and Marian asked, challenged us, to write one of our own and share it with someone. Since I share nearly everything with my dear readers, this was a no-brainer. But writing the manifesto itself? That was a struggle. I knew what I wanted to say, but the words evaded me. I tried and tried but they just wouldn’t flow.
Manifesto = public declaration of intentions
You see, my husband was “a walking billboard” for me, as one cousin recently told me. When I didn’t believe in myself, he’d get irritated with me. As a matter of fact, the first painting he ever saw me do in 1996, instead of saying Wow or That’s nice, he actually said How dare you not use this gift that God has given to you!
Yep. That was my big ol’ bear. Sometimes a grizzly, sometimes a teddy, but a big ol’ bear.
After 21 years of marriage, he knew me better than anyone. He knew I’d take on too many tasks for events and have a minor major meltdown at the 12th hour. He knew I’d justify not being able to work because I was so busy as a caregiver. That included raising his sons as my own, his mother post-stroke, our grandson 5 days a week, my mother with cancer, to name a few. Now, before you go thinking how noble and selfless I am to care for others, this was also a form of self-sabotage.
Marlon knew that too.
I could’ve found a balance between creating and caregiving, but I chose not to. It was easier to say I couldn’t work, create, paint, write, whatevs, because I was too busy with whoever I happened to be caring for at the time. His greatest wish for me is that I’d share my gifts, whether it be paintings, crafts or just written words.
That is my wish too, so here is my manifesto:
I will believe in myself. I will try to let go of my perceptions of perfection and see the beauty in imperfection. Nothing in nature is perfect, yet in its imperfection there is breathtaking beauty.
Instead of thinking “self-promotion” I will reframe that into sharing. It doesn’t feel good to promote myself, but it does feel glorious to share with others.
I’ll be myself. It’s okay to write how I feel. It’s okay to write what I want. I’ll quit focusing on the numbers of readers who aren’t reading and focus on those who are!
I’ll follow Santino’s lead, my 4 y.o. grandson, and be present in the moment, find joy in the simple things, be eager to learn more, and be willing to express my love for family and friends.
I will define boundaries, for myself, for others, for work, and for play. I might not adhere to those boundaries but by simply defining them, I will set that intention.
I’ll endeavor to go to sleep full of appreciation for the day’s blessings and wake up each morning eagerly anticipating whatever surprises lie in store.
I’ll find joy in the journey, not the destination. I don’t paint for the end result. I paint because I like to watch the paint flow, the colors blend and mesh. I want to find that joy, that peace, in each and every day of my life.
I’ll quit hiding – behind fatigue, behind pleasing others, and behind caring for others.
I will let my light shine.
Yes! That’s it! My husband wanted me to “shine my Light.” Those are the words I couldn’t find. I knew there was a Scripture passage about ‘hiding your light under a bushel’ but I couldn’t find it. I remembered a song from Godspell from years ago. But it was just a passing thought and I forgot about it.
“I just thought I’d mention that Matthew 5:14 is a really nice verse and the 5/14 part reminded me.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Maybe you can apply this to your Marlon.”
You see, my husband passed away at 5:14 a.m. on May 14, 2012.
5:14 on 5/14.
I knew it was a ‘sign’ but when Erin shared this verse with me, my heart soared.
Is it possible? Did he know? Was he sending, not only me, but our children as well, a message as he left this life? It really doesn’t matter because to me this is exactly something he would say to me and I can’t begin to describe the comfort it has provided.
When I shared this story with my online besties this morning, another amazing thing happened. Charlie shared the King James version of Matthew 5:14 with me but also went on to say that yesterday she was uploading some videos to YouTube and decided to go back into some of old videos she had on DVD. She came across this song from 1999 when she was in her high school choir. When she saw my post about Erin’s blog comment and the 5:14 reference, she listened to it and said, “it made my heart happy to hear it.”
Yesterday when she came across the DVD, she had absolutely no idea (nor did I at the time) of the significance of that verse to me.
Truly, truly amazing.
Now I have some questions for you —
Do you find ways to sabotage your success? Are you bogged down with so many commitments that there’s nothing left for you? Are you hiding your light?
If any of this rings true for you, or even if it doesn’t, I encourage you, I challenge you, to write your own manifesto and share it one other person. Maybe Marian. Or me. Or your own readers. Please don’t wait for a tragedy to occur in your life to state your intentions for yourself. What you want matters. You matter. You count. You are loved. And I want to see ‘your light’.
Some of you have already written your caregiving circumstances. I’m always taken aback at how ‘easy’ I had it. But that’s not true. Caregiving is never ‘easy’, no matter who you’re caring for and what condition they have.
I hope this post resonated with you in some way, even if you’re not a caregiver. So many of us ‘hide our light’ and what our world really needs right now is more light!
Thank you all for following my journey with me.