Bowl, Ribbon, Pink, Glass, Celebration, Decoration

 

Today, as I sat on the exam table for my annual physical at my PCP’s office, I was speaking with the Physician Assistant. I have been going to this practice since moving back from Florida in 1993, so it feels like family. The doc and his staff are warm and engaging and truly care about their patients. They take the time to be fully present. Natasha asked how I was doing in my personal and professional life since she is well aware that they impact on physical well being. After telling her about the various and sundry aspects of my work and fitness routine, I mentioned that my friend Ondreah had recently died of breast cancer and I was feeling the residual impact of that loss. She smiled ruefully and told me that she understood how hard it must be. At that moment, I said, “I am still recovering from her cancer.”

What a revelation that was!  I had been with her each step of the journey, from diagnosis, until the moment she made her transition.  As part of her care team of family and friends, I had experienced sleepless moments, not just when she would wake me up to adjust her oxygen, walk her to the bathroom or give her wee hours in the morning medications, but as a result of wondering if I would wake up to find she had died. Even though the disease was in her body and not mine, I still felt the impact. I have found the same to be true of anyone in my life who has passed; from my husband who died from Hepatitis C in 1998, to my father who succumbed to Parkinsons Disease in 2008 and my mother whose CHF and end-stage kidney disease whisked her from us in 2010. I wasn’t just recovering from their deaths, but from the diseases that took them away as well.

Consider the ride you have taken when being ‘care-sharer’ for those in your life. Have you given yourself the same TLC you offered them throughout their process of shedding their skin? What are you doing to help yourself recover? I am sleeping more, napping when I can, spending more time in solitude (not isolation), eating more healthfully, being with kindred spirits when I do venture out, giving myself permission to feel it all, sometimes crying and laughing at the same time. I talk to Ondreah throughout the day, joking about the goofy things that happen. I remember the fun and poignant times we shared in the 10 or so years we have known each other. I imagine life after death she is experiencing now and I smile.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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