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Monday, November 30, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 89 - A Hard Day

The weekend was a bit rough, and today is not shaping up too well.

A lot of ground lost, and more pain than I thought I could bear.

But in the midst of it all, I still think that God is on my side. But it's the way I think, and that is what I have to stress.

The hardest part of caregiving is that you really only have half of the puzzle-pieces...you can't know how your loved one is really feeling (and this goes for the dying spouse, as well, not being privy to the caregiver's perspective).

This may be the most telling in conversations of faith; there can be a total disconnect...for me, for instance, saying "God loves us because He said so in the Bible" cuts no ice. If I didn't have a carefully reasoned and solid framework, both experiential and logical (see my book Faith In The Night), for believing that, I wouldn't. When you're on the bathroom floor in a foetal position, vomiting blood, it can be hard to feel loved.

But from the other side, I look like a doubter, and if I press my thoughts too hard, I can shake the faith of someone whose life has been based around literal acceptance.

I am not saying I'm right, or that my perspective is in any way superior...it's just different, and both caregiver and patient have to see that there are some views that their mate sees while they, themselves, cannot.

We are linked with Messy Marriage.

I did not think I would get this written for today, Monday the 30th. As mentioned above...it was bad.

Please comment; I truly value your input. I will do my best to reply

here's another ebook that is now live on Kindle..."PTSD And The Holidays - Helping The Veteran You Love". If you'd like a copy, please either click on the cover to go to Amazon or email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send a PDF. It;'s short, but if you're dealing with PTSD, it may help.

I'd also like to mention, again, the other two new short ebooks.
The first is "Faith in the Night", which describes why, in the face of a life that has largely fallen apart, I still have faith, and still feel loved by God...and why I still want to live.

The second is a Christmas story, "Angela - A New Mexico Christmas". It's about a boy, his grandfather, and the cow that saves their lives in a blizzard...but she's part of a beef herd, and can the rescued become the rescuers?

If you'd like one or both, you can email me (tempusfugit02(at) gmail (dot) com) for a PDF, or click on the covers to go to the Amazon Kindle pages. They's both 99 cents.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 88 - Tabula Rasa {FMF}

Time for Five Minute Friday, the keyword-inspired timed writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. We are also linked with Wedded Wednesday.

The word this week is...wait for it...TABLE.

Well, OK.

Execute, execute, execute.

I'm going to cheat a little bit, and use tabula rasa.

Clean slate.

That's what dying gives you, a clean slate...and, ironically, a fresh start.

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA, and if you have the television on, it's a day of highly hyped consumerism and a celebration of popular culture.

I was a part of that word, once upon a time, but I've been given a clean slate.

I can see past it now, to things that really last (and don''t worry, I'm not going to go all religious on you...y'all know me well enough to know that I keep that stuff pretty private).

I spent the day looking for lessons...yes, I can still apply them...and values.

I found some in Six Days Of War, Michael Oren's narrative of the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and it neighbours in 1967.

It's really a tragedy...entire countries riding the tiger of bigotry and pride to an end which got a lot of people killed.

A mirror of my own life, in a way, and my own marriage.

How many arguments came from pride? How many times did Barbara and I go to bed angry because I did not want to be wrong?

Too many. Far too many.

How many were the 'positions' from which I would not back down?


And the funny thing i that I cannot remember the positions, nor the reasons for pride.

I only remember the hurt it caused, because it planted the seeds of reticence and caution that exists in our relationship to this day.

But the slate has been wiped clean. I don't mean that the past has been erased...nothing will undo the hurt, not now.

But I can see thatt he reasons that I inflicted the hurt were meaningless. My pride, and my presumed rectitude...counted for nothing.

Human dynamics are whatthey are, and Barbara isn;t dying. Issues still arise.

But it's easier to let them go, because I know not - late, but not too late, that the love is more important than 'psoition', and that peace is more important than any point I could possibly make.


Please comment, if you are of a mind to do so...I am still working through replying to the comments from last week...writing and thinking are getting harder, but your comments mean more to me now than ever.

I need you guys.

There's another ebook that is now live on Kindle..."PTSD And The Holidays - Helping The Veteran You Love". If you'd like a copy, please either click on the cover to go to Amazon or email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send a PDF. It;'s short, but if you're dealing with PTSD, it may help.

I'd also like to mention, again, the other two new short ebooks.
The first is "Faith in the Night", which describes why, in the face of a life that has largely fallen apart, I still have faith, and still feel loved by God...and why I still want to live.

The second is a Christmas story, "Angela - A New Mexico Christmas". It's about a boy, his grandfather, and the cow that saves their lives in a blizzard...but she's part of a beef herd, and can the rescued become the rescuers?

If you'd like one or both, you can email me (tempusfugit02(at) gmail (dot) com) for a PDF, or click on the covers to go to the Amazon Kindle pages. They's both 99 cents.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 87 - The Worst Version of Myself

We're connected with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday; please visit for some great marriage resources!

There is nothing like a severe trial to bring out the best in a person...and sometimes, the very worst.

We want to be accepting of that which we can't change, while working to do what we can, both as caregivers, and when we're terminally ill.

And often, we find ourselves far short of the mark, saying hurtful things and displaying a petulant sullenness that does no one any good. And it frequently causes harm, and drives a couple further apart when mutual support is urgently needed.

I did that a couple of days ago, and I am appalled at that. I'm better than that. Aren't I?

Well, no. I'm not, because I did it. I said the hurtful things. There are explanations, and it would be easy to try to twist them into excuses, a play on sympathy...oh, I was driven beyond endurance by the pain, and by vomiting so violently...

That sort of thing. It's called manipulation.

So I won't do it, and I'll admit to what I did, not to feel 'nobly responsible', or some such thing, but because it's true.

All that aside, the really important question is why we can suddenly become such awful examples of humanity.

I think it really comes down to contrast, and resentment, and jealousy.

Our lives, caregiver and patient, have been profoundly changed. We remember our old lives; the images are just out of reach behind the unbreakable window that stands between today and yesterday.

We can see them, we can feel them. We have the muscle memories of the former tools of our trades, but we're blocked from using them now.

It's just out of reach.

If we couldn't remember so clearly, if the movies of our memories weren't so vivid, it wouldn't be a problem. But we can, and we resent the restraints placed upon us.

The contrast between a Technicolour yesterday and the monochrome of today is heartbreaking.

And we see other who enjoy that which we once could...and are insanely jealous.

So we take it out on the person closest to us...either our caregiving spouse, or on the person for whom we're caring. It's the last place our anger should go, and it's inevitably the first destination.

There's no easy fix. It's going to happen, and there are three things you can do.

First, when you take out your anger on your spouse, ask for forgiveness (and accept theirs, when the situation's reversed).

Second, forgive yourself. You're going to slip; you're supposed to be like Jesus, but you're not Jesus.

Third, once you forgive...forget. Never bring it up again. Unless it's something really egregious, don't make your mate walk a long road to regain trust.

Let it go, because life is nowliterally too short.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 86- Life Goes On

Today we're linked with Inspire Me Monday, where I happen to have written the guet post! Thanks, Anita! We're also linked with Wedded Wednesday.

This will be a short essay; the weekend was hellish, and I've been considerably weakened.

But I'm not dead, and life goes on, in whatever form it can take.

Cancer, you see, is not a death sentence. The death sentence is implicit in our birth into this world. Illness merely sharpens the focus.

And yes, it's uncomfortable, and painful, and often embarrassing, but it's our own choice - to a large degree - to accept those as the main influences on our outlook.

I'm certainly not talking about the I'm walking hand-in-hand-with-Jesus paradigm being proof against pain, though I don't denigrate it. It works for many, and I believe it represents the Truth of Creation...but though I feel His presence, I don't feel it that way.

Wish I did.

Instead I take comfort in the mundane, the tasks that have to be accomplished, well or badly, every day. They represent the continuity of the life of which I so long to remain an active part, for as long as I can.

Life goes on. I want to, as well.

Please pardon the delays that are becoming a feature of my replies to comments - your comments are immensely valuable to me, and I truly appreciate them...but writing is hard now, as are most things, and I simply can't get it done as fast as I would like.

I'd also like to mention, again, two new short ebooks.
The first is "Faith in the Night", which describes why, in the face of a life that has largely fallen apart, I still have faith, and still feel loved by God...and why I still want to live.

The second is a Christmas story, "Angela - A New Mexico Christmas". It's about a boy, his grandfather, and the cow that saves their lives in a blizzard...but she's part of a beef herd, and can the rescued become the rescuers?

If you'd like one or both, you can email me (tempusfugit02(at) gmail (dot) com) for a PDF, or click on the covers to go to the Amazon Kindle pages. They's both 99 cents.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 85 - Con Thien {FMF}

Time for Five Minute Friday, the keyword-guided timed writing challenge hosted each week by Kate Motaung. We're also linked with Inspire Me Monday and Wedded Wednesday.

This week's word is DWELL.

Execute, execute, execute.

Con Thien is hard by the Z. It's more like California than Viet Nam, and the sea fog can be chilly.

The name translates as The Place Where Angels Dwell.

It's where the one-nine confirmed its nickname...The Walking Dead.

A little bit confusing?

I'll translate. Con Thien is a low rise in the terrain in the northern part of South Viet nam, very close to what was the demilitarized zone, the UN-mandated buffer between North and South that did nothing to ameliorate a long and tragic war.

The one-nine is the first battalion of the ninth Marine regiment, a unit that earned a reputation for getting into the heaviest contacts, and winning through with brutal casualties. Thus, The Walking Dead.

The TV show of the same name, about zombies...OFFENDS me. Those words are sacred.

What does this have to do with terminal illness? A lot, as it turns out.

With an abbreviated future, one turns to the past...not living in the past, that would be really stupid...but reintroducing the paradigms of that past into one's current reality.

In other words, personality growth slows, or stops.

I'm very different from the college teacher I was when I started getting sick, and very different from the man Barbara thought she married.

The affable goof with a broad sense of humour is largely gone, replaced by what has been described to me as a grim Centurion with a cold, thin-lipped glare. Tacitus' Centurion, really (as described by C.S. Lewis).

All the more relentless because he had endured it himself.

The Walking Dead...still walking among the angels, after all these years.


And now, if I may, I'd like to introduce two new short ebooks.
The first is "Faith in the Night", which describes why, in the face of a life that has largely fallen apart, I still have faith, and still feel loved by God...and why I still want to live.

The second is a Christmas story, "Angela - A New Mexico Christmas". It's about a boy, his grandfather, and the cow that saves their lives in a blizzard...but she's part of a beef herd, and can the rescued become the rescuers?

If you'd like one or both, you can email me (tempusfugit02(at) gmail (dot) com) for a PDF, or click on the covers to go to the Amazon Kindle pages. They's both 99 cents.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 84 - My Miracle

We're linked up with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday; please visit them to find some awesome marriage resources!

In this difficult passage, and in these particularly tough weeks, I've found my miracle. I really had it all along.

It's this - I want to live, and I am living.

Fully, and the best way I can.

The miracle comes with the somewhat surprising understanding that I'm OK with this, with the process of being terminally ill.

There are many things I won't get to do, sure. But life's like that anyway.

I expected to resent this, knowing that I would one day face the situation squarely. Hey, I can do denial with the best of 'em!

But the thing is, life really isn't about plans and dreams. Life isn't about tomorrow. It's about now, because now is all we ever have.

There is a clarity here, and each moment has become precious. When I kiss barbara goodbye in the morning, I do it with more care - it's no longer a perfunctory see-you-later peck. Nor is it a passionate let's have-sex-tonight smootch.

It's far more than the former, and far more than the latter. It's this -

I appreciate you, and I love you, and I will look forward to seeing you tonight, when you return.

Barbara isn't used to it yet. I still get some pretty puzzled looks.

When I have a cigar, enjoyed with a good book, to hasten the absorption of pain meds, I enjoy every puff. Whether it's a cheap one, or a premium...I don't have to pretend to myself that "well, it's medicine"...I like the taste.

I like Barbara better than cheap cigars, yer. Now when compared to good ones, well...

I can look at the dogs and really see them, really spend time with them. I'm not looking past their eyes to my writing, or my career (when I had one), or to the aeroplane parts I can now rarely touch.

I am there for them, in the moment.

Abd so it can be, dear caregiver, for you. There will come a moment, I hope, when you know that it's not about the battle, not about the things that will only get worse, and not about what -will-I-do-when-it's-over?

It's about taking every moment youhave together as a gift, and taking every moment you have, yourself, the same way.

Dreams are nice, and plans are necessary; I still have them. But whatever happens, it's OK, because it isn;t the goal that's important.

It's the path, and the person with whom we've chosen to share it.

Your miracle walks with you everyday, and it's constantly renewed. You haven't missed it.

You just have to take it into your hands, and your heart.

Charlie's Bottle - #BlogBattle

I've been two weeks away from #BlogBattle, and I'm sorry. I was just too ill to put pen to paper, so to speak, for a story. (We're also linked with Wedded Wednesday.)

But The Dude and Friends are back...with this week's keyword, BOTTLE.

Charlie's Bottle

Sometimes The DUde let me drive, though not without criticism, while he rode regally in the TC's cupola.

"TC...uh, it's a straight road, you know?"

"What? We're still on the road, right?"

"Yeah, but don't you think the locals would prefer the asphalt torn up in kind of a straight path?" Tanks are hard on just about everything under the treads.

Sonny was riding the loader's hatch. "Waalll, TC...lookin' back, we's looking lahk we's a couple'a big ol' rattlesnakes, walking sahd bah each...hey, TC, watch the..."

Te ditch seemed to have moved a little closer to the road...sneaky Asian terrain feature! - and Ship of Fools suddenly tilted sideways to the left, high-centered on the pavement's edge.

"Aw, crap." I gunned the engine, and gave it some right turn, to try to get the left treads to bite and pull us out.

"TC, don't do that, please." The Dude's voice as quiet and reasonable. That was scary. I thought he might kill me next. "Shut it down, TC."

I killed the big Continental, The silence descended like a big, wet heavy blanket. Or maybe that was just the tropical air, in the presence of a roadside ditch, the conduit for sewage.

I climbed out the driver's hatch, and joined TC and Sonny, who were standing on the sloping rear deck, looking at where I'd placed us. Biff had his head out the cupola, and he was trying hard not to grin. He failed.

"Ah, well," said The Dude.

Since something interesting had happened, on a road in the middle of nowhere, a crowd of Vietnamese civilians appeared. I wondered where they all came from, and so quickly. The inevitable Coke-hawker set up a stand, conjured out of thin air.

Any excuse for a party, and the best excuse was to see Americans being good-naturedly dumb. I smiled and waved, and most of the Viets waved back.

"Had to give you a challenge, Dude," I said. "It's all yours."

The Dude gave me a look of exasperation tinged with pity. "We're going to have to call on our betters to get out of this one. Sonny, would kindly ring up the New Guys, and ask them to hasten along to lend a helping hand?"

"Ah shur will, Dude...we'all's jest looking reel happy here, jest lahk a dead hawg in the sunshahn, ain't we?"

Biff quickly said, "I'll do it. I think the New Guys only speak English."

Sonny folded his arms and grinned. "Ah'm bah-linggel!"

The Dude walked to the back of the deck, and carefully jumped down, to avoid landing in the noxious ditch. "Well, then, Sonny, would y'll gimme a hand with the tow cable?"

Sonny's words were drowned out by a sudden burst of gunfire. "Down!" The Dude yelled. Sonny went headfirst through the loader's hatch, and I tried to slip back into the driver's position, missed, and landed headfirst in the ditch.

"Aw, SH..."

"TC? You OK?"

I sat up,...stuff dripping off me. I was in defilade, the bank above my head. "Yeah. Wonderful." I squelched smellily up the bank to peer over the edge.

The Viets had disappeared, even spiriting away the Coke stand, except of one. A VC from Central casting, black pajamas, coolie hat, and all, was weaving down the road toward us. In one hand was an AK-47, and the other held a bottle. As I watched, he took a swig, raised the rifle, let off a couple of shots, and fell on his butt.

The turret rotated slightly. "I got the coax on him, Dude," came Biff's voice. "Shall I?"

The Dude's voice came from behind the tank. "Wait. Stay on him."

Charlie was scrambling untidily to his feet, a desperate expression on his face. He dropped the bottle, and peered at the bottle....and then he raised his eyes heavenward, an unmistakable thank-you in any language, and hugged it. He hadn't spilled a drop.

Leaving the AK in the road, we walked...well, sort of...toward us. I raised my head higher when he was about ten feet away, and he suddenly stopped, eyes wide. Then he took a sniff, and promply vomited.

"Thanks," I said.

Charlie replied in a slurred torrent of Vietnamese. He waved the bottle.

"What's he saying? Does he want to chieu hoi?"

The Dude stepped around the other side of the tank. His .45 was loose in his hand, pointed at the ground. "No, TC, he's not talking abut surrender. The way you smell, I can see why. No, he's asking if you want a drink."

Charlie held out the bottle to me, and spoke again. It was jack Daniels, and it looked good.

"He says you have to use your own cup."


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 83 - Temptations

We're linked with Wedded Wednesday.

Watching someone slowly fade is, as we've said, hard.

So is the temptation to try to force a miracle. As the dying spouse, you may want to go all out to try to live...and as a caregiver, you may be in the position of either introducing an option, or giving counsel on something your mate brings up.

We hear of miracle cures, 'bold new treatments', and miraculous healings by 'anointed' pastors.

When the actor Steve McQueen was dying of lung cancer, he went to Mexico in a last-ditch effort to try what was said to be a promising new treatment involving peach pits.

I'm not at all against making every effort to survive, and to turn the situation around, but there are some things to consider -

  • What are the realistic chances for any sort of success? We all have limitations on time,money, and energy. Steve mcQueen could afford to chase a last hope across the border...but can you? You, as the caregiver, will have to go on with your family. We all say that even the smallest hope is better than none,but can you pay the price? And yes, there's the downside price of deciding against it,as the patient, or arguing against,as the caregiver...and wondering what would have happened had you 'done the utmost'. If the choice is before you, it's not an easy one, and there will be fallout either way, if it fails.
  • What will the sacrifice be in quality of life? I'm terminal, and I have a limited number of days left, so I try to make each one the best it can be; at this point I, personally, would not bet the quality of a sizable chunk of that on a longshot. I love the time I can spend with barbara and the dogs; I love the small amount of work I can still do upon aeroplanes; and I love writing. These are more important, in the aggregate, than a desperate hope. I've run my race, and I'm content. You may not share this feeling, but it's worth considering.
  • What about disappointment? We tend to view longshots in terms of the successes, but for every lottery ticket purchased, there are thousands that - I hope - go back for recycling (Save the Earth!). What would that disappointment do to the time you and your husband or wife can still share? And yes, this has to be balanced against the cost of passing on the chance. Again, it's a chard one.
The 'miraculous healers' are in something of a class by themselves.

I have no doubt that miraculous healing exists; I've seen it.

But I also feel that anyone who claims to be a healer should have proof that will stand up to scrutiny. Someone with a back problem who, on having the laying on of hands, can suddenly walk normally immediately after the 'healing' doesn't make the grade. Adrenaline can do that; so can, unfortunately, a rigged demonstration.

Many of these healers will pooh-pooh the need for truth, quoting Jesus' response to Thomas about seeing and believing. Well, they're not Jesus, and at least one preacher who holds regular 'miracle services' has ushers who keep people with clear and obvious infirmities from the stage.

In pursuing a miracle cure at a healing service, then, there's one additional question to ask yourself...what will this do to your mate's faith...and to yours?

I'm deliberately leaving out those who say that a donation of, say, $300 to the ministry will 'sow a seed that will grow a miracle'. For one thing, it's a deliberate abuse of the Parable of the Sower, and for another, it takes advantage of desperation. These people are beneath contempt.

If you are a caregiver or are terminally ill, I hope, with all my heart, that you find a last-minute cure, or a miracle. Heck, I hope I do.

But no matter what, I hope that you find peace, and the capacity for joy.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 82 - Not Weary At All {FMF}

Five Minute Friday again, the timed keyword-driven writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

We're also linked with Wedded Wednesday.

The prompt tonight is WEARY.


It's been the week from hell, and everything went sideways yesterday...I collapsed physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

But it was a passing thing, because I want to go on.

I was told (and have been told before, Look, let go...when you think of the glories of Heaven you won't even wast to stay here.

But the thing is, I'm not tired of this life. I can deal with the pain, and all the rest of it. The challenges are still worth while, and I still look forward to what tomorrow will bring.

I still watch for the sunrise.

And Heaven? The Throne of Grace, the choirs of angels, the day-long hosannas?

Never did much care for choral music. I'll pass for now.

See, I've still got work to do here. I'm not tired of this.

Heaven can wait.


Again, I do have to ask your patience with my replies to comments, and visits to your sites. When I said 'collapsed' above...that was pretty much it. it sucked.

And, I have an offer for y'all. My wife found three copies of "Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" that we'd bought from the publisher when it came out.

So I'm offering them here. I would dearly love to give them away...but we have 24 hungry canine mouths to feed, and go through 12 lbs of dog food every day.

It is a Christmas-Easter story, and got some nice reviews on Amazon. So I hope you'll like it., if you choose to read it. I enjoyed writing it.

So I hope I won't look crassly materialistic when I say, how about $20 postpaid for a signed copy? You'll get that, plus an original-art flyleaf sketch of Ladron the Chief Service Dog, and an ebook of the soon-to-be-released "Emerald Isle".

And you'll have our deepest thanks; we're not a nonprofit, but we do our best for these guys, and you'll be in our grateful human and canine prayers.

Please drop me a note at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com if you're interested.

And for fun...the musical accompaniment to this post...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 81 - Thief of Joy

We're lined to Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday

When you're dying, joy can sometimes become elusive; small setbacks that you'd ordinarily shake off can become magnified, simply because there's less time to set them right, and they diminish the precious 'quality time' you have left.

The same thing goes for caregivers. Seeing someone you love fade by inches is painful, and can easily darken the days. Joy, fun, and simple satisfaction can lose their flavour, or can sometimes be shattered very suddenly...when you're laughing at a joke someone tells at work, and then you suddenly realize, "I won't be able to share these at home for very much longer."

But there's another way joy can be leached from your life...and your husband or wife can be the unwitting (or, sometimes, deliberately-acting) culprit.

A losing fight for life changes one's perspective. When the physical challenges become harder by the week, focus changes from an outward acceptance and enjoyment for what's 'fun' to things that have a deeper and more visceral meaning. Spending time on finding a 'kicky' outfit goes from a cool way to spend time to a waste of time.

And when one's looking ahead to a night of semi-sleep, broken by pain that makes it impossible to do more than just endure it, it's very hard to get excited about a football game. The team loyalties that seemed important, once upon a time, are now a silly emotional tie to what is, in the end, a very big business.

That change in feelings is real, but it's unfair to impose them on one's caregiving spouse, yet the dying do it every day, through words and (perhaps more often) body language. The Super Bowl party is met with badly-disguised rolled eyes, and a lukewarm participation. The shopping trip, which could be a wonderful chance to spend time together, is rejected in progress by sighs and "Well, I'll just wait here for you", even when the physical need to rest isn't really there.

And then there's deliberate sabotage, arising from bitterness...and you, the caregiver, are frequently the only available target upon which to vent the wrath that arises from circumstance. It's unfair, and it's inexcusable. Dying is not entitlement.

I'll give an example from...well, yesterday, of which I'm ashamed.  Please bear with me.

barbara was watching "The Voice", one of the few television shows she tries to follow. She once did a lot of singing in church, but I have not heard her sing in a long, long time.

The songs thatwere performed grated on me; though I was in a different room, I could still hear them, and I found "You're No Good" and "The Way You Look Tonight" to be the height of frivolity, and the nadir of silliness. I'm in severe pain, and yesterday afternoon had to run an improvised blood-expanding IV to stay conscious. Ihad been bleeding a lot.

When the show was over, I asked Barbara, in the guise of an 'academic question', why she liked those songs. But my motive was, shamefully, base. I wanted to vent my anger against a world that I saw moving on in tinsel and pumped up emotion while I fought a battle that I'm losing, and that is often very lonely.

Barbara's answer was direct, and to the point. "I don't want to try to explain, because then I won't enjoy them any more."

That was the perfect response, and it neatly and deservedly put me in my place. I was trying to take something from her, to place her in the dark place in which I increasingly have to live.

And that, dear caregiver, is what you have to do. You have a life; you will have a life after your husband or wife dies, and he or she does not have the right to consciously or subconsciously diminish the enjoyment that you have, or for which you have potential.

You can't help a drowning person by letting yourself be pulled underwater. Sometimes you ave to let them drown, because being lost yourself is the only other option.Yes, you can be encouraging and generous...but thathas to be accepted, and in this situation, that often just doesn't happen.

It's not selfish; it's just the acknowledgement of different roles. You will still have something to contribute after the eyes are thumber closed and the body's covered with a sheet, and you owe it to yourself, and those around you, not to let your best efforts - which are enhanced by the enjoyment of life - be diminished by 'misery loves company' placed into full and squalid action.

What do you think? Can you see another way?

This was, again, a very hard post to write, and rather painful, because I have had to recognize that I damaged, in a small way, the time that Barbara and I still have together. My words can't be called back, and even my development of a genuine enjoyment in the music I criticized will be seen as suspect, and condescension. This can't be fixed, and for that I am both sorrym and ashamed.

I will try to respond to comments quickly, but things are getting tougher bythe week, so please...be patient. I truly value your comments, and your presence here.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 80 - Preserving Dignity

There is nothing dignified about terminal illness, sentimental and fanciful books and movies notwithstanding. It's not pretty.

I mean, really...incontinence?

Dignity comes with how we meet it, and in this, you, the caregiver, can be a huge help, because your mate wants,more than anything, to retain his or her dignity in your eyes.

You are the audience, You saw your beloved at our best...and we don;t want that memory to be replaced with something else, something that we feel is far less.

Yes, it's true that dignity is written on the heart, and in the eyes, and that you're quite capable of seeing past the mess and the weakness and the other things that don't bear mentioning.

All true, but when you're dying, there are outward things that become important, sometimes more important than they were in health.

We need you to see us, still, at the best we can be, at the best we can appear...and we need to know that you, our caregiving spouse, sees us that way.

Here's how.

  • First, treat the indignities, like incontinence or the propensity to vomit, or loss of memory, as passing incidents. Deal with them, and then forget them. Don't, whatever you do, say something like "Well, I guess you'll be needing adult diapers soon." We know that this may be coming, and we hate it.
  • Encourage independence. I need help bathing, and sometimes need help using the bathroom. For the former, my wife accepts this as a regular thing, and I can accept that; it's a safety issue. But for using the facilities, she'll ask whether I need a hand (stop laughing...well, OK, it is funny, put that way), but she doesn't press the point. If I say "I'm OK", she accepts it. But she does trust me to ask when I need the help.
  • Foster normalcy. Wearing PJs all day may seem more comfortable, but for many people it's bad for morale in the long term. If your mate's housebound, encourage him or her to wear street clothes during the day...street clothes that are in good repair. If you can't shop together, buy new clothing as needed, keyed to what he or she likes to wear.
  • Encourage active involvement with the outside world, even if the only way is by sharing your life as it goes on outside the home, and asking advice.
  • Always address your mate as 'you', as in "How are you feeling this morning?", as opposed to "How are we feeling this morning?" When you hear the we often enough, it becomes condescending.
  • If forgetfulness in conversation becomes a problem, be as patient as you can with repeated questions. I know it can be frustrating, but please, put yourself in our shoes...not being able to remember if you asked that, or not. Don't say, "You asked me that ten minutes ago!" It makes us feel terrible, something of a burden, and it's humiliating.
  • Don't change your form of address; don't suddenly adopt the diminutive of your mate's name. 'Andrew' shouldn't become 'Andy' because he's very ill; I may be dying, but I'm not reverting to childhood.
Some of this is a tall order, I know. But please try.

Because living the indignities, and realizing how some very small things can have a big effect on morale...we'd do the same for you.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 79 - Dancing with Jesus and Rambo {FMF}

Time for Five Minute Friday, hosted by the wonderful and gracious Kate Motaung. It's a key-word-driven timed writing challenge, and this week's word...which I had a hand in helping to choose, through Kate's kindness, is DANCE. (And we are also linked with Weekend Whispers.)

And thus, now starts the music...

Dying sucks, and things are going from bad to downright awful...last week I had to comfort a crying doctor when he had to deliver yet more bad tidings.

That was weird.

One may choose to despair, and move through each day with sorrow.

Or one may decide to live my One Word for 2016...harken to the drum roll...


It may seem silly...health is gone (no, duh?), academic career is over and novel-writing career is a failure, went through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and a very important relationship is fundamentally changed...to me, for the worse, though it will endure.

I think that's a good recipe for despair, don't you?

But we have another road, and that road comes with an example, courtesy Sidney Carter and Someone Else...

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced for the scribe & the pharisee
But they would not dance & they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James & John
They came with me & the Dance went on:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body & they thought I'd gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that'll never, never die!
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!

It's all about choice, and the choice in the moment can be dirge or dance.

As Sylvester Stallone said in the latest Rambo film, Live for nothing, or die for something. Your call." (By the bye, Rambo has a very strong Christian message; in the first few seconds of the clip, note the cross hanging from a bracelet on Stallone's wrist.)

In the movie, the call was to choose Right, even though that way might lie death.

And it's the same thing for me. The right thing to do is to encourage, and to try to kindle and fan the hope that life is still worth living, and that there's good that might be done even unto an unpleasant death, an end presaged by weakness and humiliation. (Incontinence, anyone?)

The right thing to do is to keep reaching out, and to pass the torch of hope, faith, and love.

The torch that can be passed only in a dance.

So join me, won't you?

Come along, and dance with me and Rambo and Jesus.

The words stop here, but the music and the dance go on.

Here's Beth Cassidy singing Lord of the Dance -

Again, your comments mean the world to me, and I will do my best to reply quickly, and to visit your posts in return...I want to do this, very much, because I love you all.

But sometimes I can't. 

I will try, though.

You guys matter.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 78 - Till Death

We're linked to Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday.

Some marriages, though they endure, aren't so great, and contrary to movies and books, the stresses of a terminal illness can drive a couple further apart rather than bringing them closer together.

Under circumstances like these, resentment of the terminally ill husband or wife is almost guaranteed to surface...the healthy partner is carrying resentment anyway, and begins to dislike the 'offending' spouse for being sick.

Sounds pretty bad when you read it, eh? Unfair?

It's natural, and trying to deny that these feelings arise is like trying to keep smioke from passing through a screen door.

The saving grace that we all have is the freedom to choose our behaviour, no matter how we feel. We're not forced to say anything, or to react with body language that says, "I'm annoyed!"

It's far easier said than done, though, but it's a lot harder if you don't acknowledge the negative feelings, because then you're fighting any enemy you can't see, and whose existence you deny.

And yes, those feeling are the enemy, because when you married the man or woman with whom things "just didn't work out as we'd hoped", you took a vow. You made a promise.

And therein lies the road through this difficult experience. You may not feel good about negative thoughts, but you can feel good about keeping a promise.

Part of that promise is to be there.

Dying is a very lonely business. Your circle shrinks from work to church to friends to just family and marriage, and there will come a time when your company is the most important thing in your spouse's life.

Tat's what "till death do us part" is for.

If you can keep that part of the vow when your natural inclination is to wish you were somewhere else, you'll be doing a far greater kindness than you can realize.

To your mate, and to yourself.

Your comments are very valuable to me; my situation has deteriorated a bit, and answering them quickly is hard, but I still aim to answer all comments...please bear with me through this?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 77 - En Brera

We are linked to Inspire Me Monday and Wedded Wednesday.

En brera means no alternative in Hebrew, and to understand what is in your mate's mind, when he or she is fighting for life,

And life, participation in life, is important. Being part of something...the workforce, the community, the circle of friends, and as the circle shrink, the family and the couple...this is what makes us human.

Man was not meant to be alone. Terminal illness can be the ultimate isolator, and caregivers can be unwitting accomplices.

You have to look beyond the toll that participation is going to take on your mate, because stepping back from life takes a larger one, the feeling of being set aside from the rest of humanity.

It's so tempting to urge someone who's in significant discomfort or outright pain to 'be nice to yourself; rest, and don't worry about getting out and about'.

And it's tempting for that individual, for two reasons. One is obvious; no one wants to hurt more, and being let off the hook in an understanding way can seem like a huge relief.

The second is more insidious..."I'm not really needed after all; it doesn't matter if I show up in the world or not".

Once that has taken hold in the soul, it's hard to go back. Once a person feels as if he or she is disposable, certain thought patterns are begun, a combination of fatalism and a negative sort of defiance ("If I'm not needed after all, why tey?) that are very hard to overcome.

Hard to overcome because part of the newly-adopted paradigm is a kind of cynicism, that willlook at every future attempt to convince that one really is important to friends, family, and community...as condescension.

It's like being a newlywed, and being told by your husband that you're a lousy cook. It takes time to learn, but when will you even believe him when he compliments your cooking? It'll take years.

And the terminally ill don't,typically, have years.

So please, encourage as much engagement as your mate wants to pursue...and when necessary, give nudges.

We all need to be part of something...even unto death.