We're linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday today.
Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.
And sometimes,as a caregiver, you will feel like you can't do or say anything right.
You show compassion, you're condescending.
You respect the abilities your mate still has, and you're demanding too much of a sick person.
You try to help, and you're taking away work your mate can still do.
You let them do something on their own, and you're accused of not being willing to help.
You can't win.
It's tempting to answer back sharply, in anger, because you're doing your best, and you do care. Too much, it seems like sometimes.
But the thing to remember is that you're not the target. The fatal illness is a constant companion, at times cruel, and at times casually nasty. It can be a trained torturer, or something akin to a mean-spirited teenager, offhandedly ruining what little sense of accomplishment can be gleaned from the bad days that inevitably come.
The illness is a presence, and it's not a friend. But it can't feel remorse, and it can't be hurt.
Your mate wants to give back pain for pain, sometimes, and you are often the only target available.
It's hard to respond in calm compassion, and refrain from putting up walls to protect your heart. When you're hurt, it's natural to shield yourself. You've got to, anyway, for the separation to come.
But the separation isn't here yet, and believe me, the person who's looking into that scary place of faith and mystery feels awful for hurting you, because, in many ways...you are all he or she has.
Can you be big enough to absorb the blows? Can you be resilient enough to let what feels personal drift past, because it's not really personal at all?
It's worth trying, because that's the only way to avoid regret later. You will...once your mate is gone and the dust is settling - you will question whether you were kind enough. It's human nature; we pull back to avoid the pain of loss, and in that retreat we sow the seeds of later heartache.
To some degree, you can't avoid this.
But to some degree, you can. The seeds of retreat come from denial; your spouse is here now, and their hostility, superimposed over the impending loss, is much more real that what will happen next week or next month or next year.
Terminal illness is not entitlement, and you have to stand your ground. But you have to try to stand it in warmth.
So breathe deep, and hold out your arms, as if you're forgiving a child throwing the mother of temper tantrums.
Because we're all kids, and we're all afraid of the dark.