The Universal Law of Here and Now states that our tendency to cling to the past and grasp for the future is just an erroneous preoccupation with the idea of linear time. To live life to the fullest we need to focus on moment to moment events.
Yesterday my former wife, Betty, passed away after a 20 year battle with cancer. This event has brought me some sadness and put me in a place back in time. I’ve been on both sides of the cancer battle. First , as a caretaker for Betty and then as a survivor myself from throat cancer.
I do believe that it is harder on the caretaker than the patient. The patient has a schedule and rules to follow. Granted the treatment is grueling and at times you just want to quit. If it wasn’t for medical reasons, what you have done to your body would have you seeing a psychiatrist because of inflicting pain on yourself willingly.
The caretaker though, sees what you are going through. They see your hair falling out, your appearance changes and your weight drops. They try to cheer you up. They change menus trying to find something that you can eat and more importantly keep within you. They try there best to make your life as stress-free as possible.
As a good caretaker, the patient doesn’t see or sense or own fears. They have no idea of the financial situation their family is in. The caretaker does whatever they can do to make it possible for the patient to do nothing else but focus on their treatment and recovery.
I reflect and see that I wasn’t the best caretaker, nor was I the best patient. I did want to quit treatment. It was a demanding treatment. I lost my voice, I struggled to swallow, which made it difficult to eat, and my neck was burned from radio therapy. I know how much fear I gave my wife for wanting to quit, yet as a great caretaker, she supported me. Deep down she wanted me to continue treatment but she bit her tongue and hugged me. Eventually, with some nudging from doctors and nurses and her never ending support I did complete treatment.
As a caretaker, I did my best but I do feel I let Betty down as well as her family. I struggled with the bills and keeping them current. I wasn’t a good paternal figure for my step-children. I didn’t want conflict, nor did I wish to hear of their fears. I just wanted everything to go back to normal and forget this ever happened.
The reality is that I did do a good job. Could I do more? In hindsight, for sure I could have. Yet, I did everything I could at that time. The fact is that after being diagnosed with cancer Betty lived for another 20 years. She got to see all her kids finish schooling and all of them become parents themselves. She got to be a part of her six grand-children’s lives. Through our marriage, she got to travel throughout America and met people she would have never known and witnessed things that others have never experienced.
I say this because it is easy to shame myself for things that weren’t done correctly or done at all. Yet, finding it difficult to say I did do a good job and helped her have a fulfilled life. It’s not healthy to dwell on the past. It’s OK to look back on it – just don’t stare. Spending to much time looking back does nothing but destroy the present.