Consider, oh caregiving spouse, the robin's egg.
A lovely shade of blue (and a Crayola colour1), the robin's egg is strong enough to carry a small and vulnerable life, but fragile enough for that new life to emerge.
There's a lesson here, and the lesson is for you.
You have to build an enormous strength to survive your spouse's Long Goodbye; there's no question about that. You have to carry your own emotions, and theirs, and deflect the assaults of your peace of mind - both unthinking and deliberate.
"Wow, you really don't get out much any more, do you?" Kind of hard to do when you're emptying bedpans.
"You mean you haven't seen the latest Hunger Games film?" No, but I've seen lots of x-ray films, and as horror stories, they're worse.
You've got to be tougher than Rambo, and less pervious to insult and injury than the Terminator.
But those can't define you, because one day the ordeal will end, and you'll have to be fragile.
There will be a new life opening within you, a small spark of hope that you may not want to recognize for a long time.
Nonetheless, it will be there, because the Lord promised that the Son would rise.
You can nurture this gentle murmur of the Almighty...simply by being open, being vulnerable. Being the egg that bore its burden, and can now crack.
How? You may well ask. You've crawled through your heart's Armageddon. How to you cradle a thin green shoot of grass? How do you protect a nestling?
It's hard, and it's simple.
There's only one step.
When you feel a smile coming, after the thundering tragedy, you'll resist it...out of misplaced respect (would he or she want you to frown forever?), but also out of fear.
Because the smile, when you let it come, the first few times, the first few hundred times, will be followed by welling tears, and choking sobs.
Let them tears come, because they are the lubricant for your eyes...without them, blinking would be painful.
They are the prerequisite to vision.
The vision of your journey, from heartache through steel strength through fragility and brokenness...and out to life, once again.
I can't be there with you. But I want to know that you can smile again.