I watch him out of the corner of my eye as I do the daily dishes. I’m worried about him, as he hasn’t eaten in a couple of days. He has hardly moved from his bed in the same amount of time.
I know I can’t nag him to eat. I’ve tried that in the past and it just makes us both miserable. I feel bad because the other day he asked for something special to eat and I had to tell him no. Not because I wouldn’t cook it because we had no money to buy it to cook. He didn’t seem to understand when I explained it to him.
He doesn’t understand lots of things now. It saddens me, but I have learned not to let it linger in my mind. It’s not his fault. It’s the fault of his medications. The strong pain pills he takes several times a day. They have robbed him of his sharp mind like the pain has robbed him of his appetite, his focus, his ability to function like he used to.
When we moved into this 30-year-old mobile home almost 2 years ago. We decided to put his twin size bed in the living room. He loves his TV, but the couch was too uncomfortable for him to lay on all day. So we got rid of the old loveseat and put in a twin bed we got for free. It has worked out well. The TV gives him something to do.
I watch him as I do the dishes. I see the deep furrows of pain on his face. I wish I could do something more for him but I know I can’t. Soon his afternoon pills will take effect, his eyes will gloss over, the furrows won’t be quite so deep. For a little while.
I finish the last dish, put it in the dish rack to air dry, wipe my hands and make myself another cup of coffee. I’ve been in the kitchen for 45 minutes and not a word was spoken between him and I. Just the sound of the TV going and the clink of dishes being cleaned.
I walk down the hall to my office and sit down with my coffee cup in hand. Taking small sips, I think about the last time we spoke to each other. Was it yesterday? Or the day before? I lay my head back and close my eyes. We don’t speak much anymore. I’ve learned to accept it. As I’ve learned to accept a lot of things the last few years.
I could sink into a pool of self-pity, but why? It’s not his fault he became disabled, so racked with pain that taking a simple shower has to be planned ahead of time, just so the pain will be somewhat manageable.
I could rage at the universe and cry an ocean of tears. Again, why? The universe is not to blame for the circumstances that made us lose our home and come to live in a broken down trailer. It’s a roof over our heads and heat in the winter.
I could rail against it all. I have in the past, I won’t lie about that. I’m human, with faults. So, I railed against something him and I had no control over. I cried, I felt sorry for myself. Worse of all, I wanted to leave. I wanted to run away from the pain. His pain and mine. I wanted to run fast and as far as I could. Half way across the world.
I didn’t run. I couldn’t run. I won’t run.
Instead, I learned compassion. Compassion for him. He doesn’t want to be in this much pain. Every single day, every single minute, to live in pain. Who would want that? So I find my compassion for him. My patience. My desire to help ease his suffering if I can. Which I can’t.
I can only help him suffer less. I will settle for that.
I have also learned to have compassion for myself. That was the hardest part. To be gentle with myself as much as I am gentle with him. I make mistakes, I lose my temper, I get frustrated, I get depressed. It’s ok to feel all these things. I will NOT beat myself up over having these feelings because they never last. I can’t let them. I won’t let them. I feel them and then I let them go without the guilt.
I open my eyes, sip my coffee and keep an ear out for him as I face my computer and do what I know I’m good at. Writing words.
I write the words I cannot speak out loud. I write the words that my soul feels. I write the words that I have learned. I write my heart. That’s how I learn compassion all over again.