When a Caregiver's Work is Done

I hear the car doors close out in the driveway and on the street. It's finally quiet in the house, except for the acoustic guitar music playing from the stereo. I look over to the art wall, where only a couple of hours earlier we'd watched soulmate, mother, sister, and friend slip quietly beyond the veil.

It's over

It's over. All of it. The interminably long visits to the ER room, the long days in the chemo ward, the sponge baths, the lifts to the bedside commode, the nights on the couch trying to get some sleep with one ear open. I'm glad for that. It's the tenderness, communication, and the love between us I miss and have done since my wife's breast cancer turned metastatic. I have too much time on my hands.

Alone

What do I do now, I ask myself aloud, knowing there's no one to answer me and give me guidance. From now on, I sleep alone. I eat alone. I go out alone, and I grieve alone. One half of my marriage, my life, is gone forever, but I probably won't be much fun for a long time now that she's gone.

Why bother?

Friends who paid visits no longer drop by. A couple of them ask me out to dinner about twice a month, but then, the post-death financial crisis hits and I can no longer afford such a small luxury as that. I hear "widow living on a fixed income" fall from my mouth, and I can't believe it's me saying it.

For months, I do nothing but sleep, eat, and accomplish only the bare essentials around the house. I let my house go, and I let myself go. I don't have the energy to reach out to people, because to do so means that I have to clean the house and take a shower. I don't even cry much, because it takes too much energy and leaves me feeling helpless and head-achy. Why bother? Why bother with any of it?

After the first year

The first anniversary of my wife's death comes and goes almost unnoticed. The days drift together, seldom changing. I get up, I feed the cats, I pour my coffee, and I sit down to check social media. After that, I usually take a nap, and when I wake up, I take another.

I seldom have meals anymore, preferring to graze only when it's necessary. Sometimes, I start to speak aloud, to share something, and I realize she's no longer here. This happens a lot. Evening comes, and evening goes, and then it's time to go to bed, and back to blessed sleep.

Something is awaking

But something new is happening to me. Something is awaking. Something is ready to come out of the darkness. Something is climbing, struggling toward the light like a sprout finally emerging from the soil.

I think I'm ready to live again. I'm almost convinced that she is gone forever. I miss friends, parties, chats over wine, and the out of doors. I feel the light on my soul. I reach toward it.

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