We originally planned for 11:45 to beat the crowds at Jammin' Bread, but Steve's regularly assigned caregiver called out at the last minute, and the agency was scrambling to find a timely replacement. So I proposed meeting at my house and having her pick up a couple of salads, which I'd reimburse her for, since Steve would have already eaten. The devil was actively trying to mess up this time of fellowship, but we were having none of it!
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
And flee he did, because the agency found someone, we moved our time back to 12:00, and a wonderful two hours of sharing began over steak fajitas at the Crest Cafe!
Carolyn had told me that she would get together with me to help in any way she can to help me cope with Steve's condition, since she has been dealing with her late father's and her mother's current dementia all of her adult life. She is 56 and her mom is 93 and still going strong physically in a care home in Washington State.
I'd anticipated this time as healing balm for my soul, and so it was, but the balm of the Holy Spirit went both ways. My situation is currently deteriorating daily, and hers has been in place for decades. But somehow, the pain she has suffered, first, as 24/7 caregiver, and now the unjustified guilt she feels with her mom in a very good place, but far away, has her hurting, too.
We discussed Steve's condition, the effect on our kids, and the importance of getting support and caregiver training. We talked about the class I had taken on grieving--and the fact that the grieving starts long before the Alzheimer victim's demise--it's a daily, grinding sorrow that never quite leaves a spouse or adult child.
On the positive side,we shared some strategies for the constant phone calls Carolyn receives, avoiding "burn-out" in my case as the primary caregiver for my husband, and the critical importance of having a life separate from caregiving: for her, nurturing her marriage, returning to ministry, starting in a small sales business. (I can think of one, and Carolyn loved the mini-facial I gave her on the back of her hand)! On my part, I feel the Lord has shown me the way to prevent burnout and depression is to live the life He has led me to: staying abreast of all I need to help Steve remain loved, healthy, safe and uplifted; my business, which is fun, upwardly mobile and all about people; and the Bible teaching, writing and encouragement ministries He has graciously given me for our church--and beyond.
It's all His doing--our salvation and sanctification as we live the Christian life, with all of its trials and sorrows. Let me close with this precious benediction in I Thessalonians 5:23-24 from the Apostle Paul:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.