The other day I was talking with a friend and we got into a deep philosophical conversation about life.  She had been the primary caretaker for her mother (a scene I know all too well) and was describing everything that needed to be done.  This needs to be gotten. I need to pick this up. She needs her meds. I need to remember to ask about this… and that. I need to take care of… I need to…. She needs…

After a while, it becomes a fulltime job, a second fulltime job because like most of us, we already work. We already hold together a household, work to pay bills, stress out about our current life situations and try to put that out of our minds.  When the roll of caretaker turns on for that very small percentage of time; when you are allowed to give to that person, during your already hectic day.

I remember waking early, getting some work done, then going to the nursing home where my grandmother was (after visiting hours began). Staying with her the majority of the day, then returning back home to catch up on that day’s work until the wee hours of the night or until my body shut down, whichever came first.   I know I was blessed to have a job that traveled with me. Clients that didn’t mind the work getting done at 10pm… but I still checked emails on my phone throughout the day. I was never too far away from my life that a phone call couldn’t cure.

My friend continued her story with the brother who came in from out of town. Who was able to stop the clock on his life for a set amount of time so he could be there for his mother.  He had the gift of vacation time (for lack of a better word) to set his mind at ease. His life wasn’t going to call him at any moment with expectations and demands. His wife was able to take care of the house during his leave. Work would somehow survive without him. There was an understood that interruptions would not happen so he was able to find the peace in the moment. To be there at that particular time completely. Heart and soul. He was able to say what needed to be said. To hold her hand. To stroke her hair. My friend didn’t get that chance.

There was all likelihood that life would go on and daily and monthly tasks would be expected to be taken care of. There was also all likelihood that life would not go on and preparations of mass amounts would have to be seen to.  When you are in that position you can not shut down. You try to be there. You hold their hand but after a short time has passed your brain reminds you of that dreaded list of things to do, tasks to take care of. The doctor asks questions to answers you have to know. You have to stay focused. You have to keep your brain turned on. You can’t escape into a relaxed state of just being there.

She needs you to take care of her.  –  That is your job at this moment.

So when the regret, after the loss, begins to fill you.  When you go back in your head to that moment, those moments, and you begin feeling they were lost moments, wasted, ruined with lists and tasks and deeds that didn’t include stopping to be there in that particular time, that precious time.  And the guilt begins to fill you. And the tears are whelping up in your eyes. Your heart aches.  The missed moment, the longing, the not being there because you had to run that errand….

Remember: God loves us all.

He knows what you did for her and so does she. In fact, she now has infinite clarity.  She understands everything. The things she didn’t know before. The parts of your life you didn’t share because you didn’t want her to worry, or feel guilty. The exhaustion you felt. The inner conflict of wondering how much longer you could do this.  She knows now, and understands, and forgives, and thanks you.

Her frown is gone. Her sad eyes are now perky. Her pain has escaped her. She is happy. And now, as she looks down upon you, she smiles and prays that you too will find happiness. To stop blaming yourself. To release that guilt that you have no right putting on yourself. You did the best you could. Only God could have done better – because he is perfect and she KNOWS this.

Be proud of your accomplishments with her. She is proud of you.

Take a moment today to smile.  Close your eyes and envision her looking down upon you with that smile you hadn’t seen in so many years, maybe ever. She is whole. 100%. And she wants you to be happy. Take that moment with you today.

Life is about the moments not the things – but the deeds are just as important…
if that is the kind of person you are.

– Kathleen J. Shields