“This is why I worry.” My husband placed a memorial service bulletin in my lap and sat down. I didn’t know what to say, but I soon found I was glad he’d opened the subject.
The wife of one of his co-workers, a lovely young woman only 35 years of age, had passed away recently. She had Crohn’s disease, endometriosis, and fibromyalgia, none of which are fatal. But she was gone nonetheless.
“Now you know why I check to see that you’re still breathing during the night,” my husband told me. I had no idea. Yes, I am a mess of disabling conditions and diseases, but I don’t think of them as fatal, or myself as dying. Worse, I had never considered what my husband might be thinking or feeling.
My dear husband travels a lot for work, and he confessed that he worries that when he comes home, he might find me deceased. I had no idea. How much fear he must carry with him! I have resolved to make each homecoming a joyful experience for him, even when I’m not feeling well. I told him I understood a bit of his fear, because he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, and until it was well-controlled, I had fears of him having a stroke while he was driving.
I wonder how may of us with chronic illnesses realize how much our partners and caregivers worry about us, or are fearful of finding us in dire situations? Have we ever had “that” talk with them? It isn’t easy, but I think it’s necessary. We don’t know what unspoken fears they might be facing, and there might be strains on our relationships because of those fears. Speaking our anxieties out loud, giving a name to them, makes them less frightening. It might even bring us closer.
It may be difficult getting your partner to open up about their fears concerning you. No one likes to admit their vulnerability, and the people caring for you, in particular, don’t want you to think they are weak. But caring isn’t weakness; loving isn’t frailty.
I am grateful that God gave me such a loving, caring partner (we celebrate 40 years of marriage this weekend) and I resolve once again to take the best care of myself that I can. This gift of life and love is precious, no matter what challenges I encounter along the way.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
Dear Father/Mother God, Thank you for taking care of us, for providing us with friends and family to be your loving hands here on earth. Help us to remember that sometimes they worry about us more than we do, and to do our best to reassure them through our smiles, through our words, through our actions. They are your angels on earth. Help us be deserving of their care, and let us be angels, too. In your blessed Son’s name we pray. Amen.