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Posted: April 24, 2008

Spousal Caregiving

A Caregiver's Thoughts on Tomorrow

Bill Andrew

I recently received an email from a friend who knows I am the 24/7 spousal caregiver for Carol, my wife of almost 57 years, who has late-stage Alzheimer's disease. This friend of many years knows of the long and lonely journey Carol and I have traveled these past 14 years. We all know that this journey has an ending -- when and where only God knows.

As you read what you will find below, provided by my friend, try to put yourself into your loved one’s place. What would they say as they depart from this earthly life leaving you to continue your earthly journey alone?

_____

If tomorrow starts without me,

And I'm not there to see,

If the sun should rise and find your eyes

All filled with tears for me;

 

I wish so much you wouldn't cry

The way you did today,

While thinking of the many things,

We didn't get to say.

 

I know how much you love me,

As much as I love you,

And each time that you think of me,

I know you'll miss me too;

 

But when tomorrow starts without me,

Please try to understand,

That an angel came and called my name,

And took me by the hand,

 

And said my place was ready,

In heaven far above,

And that I'd have to leave behind

All those I dearly love.

 

But as I turned to walk away,

A tear fell from my eye,

For all my life, I'd always thought,

I didn't want to die.

 

I had so much to live for,

So much left yet to do,

It seemed almost impossible,

That I was leaving you.

 

I thought of all the yesterdays,

The good ones and the bad,

I thought of all that we shared,

And all the fun we had.

 

If I could relive yesterday,

Just even for a while,

I'd say good-bye and kiss you

And maybe see you smile.

 

But then I fully realized,

That this could never be,

For emptiness and memories,

Would take the place of me.

 

And when I thought of worldly things,

I might miss some tomorrow,

I thought of you, and when I did,

My heart was filled with sorrow.

 

But when I walked through heaven's gates,

I felt so much at home.

When God looked down and smiled at me,

From His great golden throne,

 

He said, "This is eternity,

And all I've promised you.

Today your life on earth is past,

But here life starts anew.

 

I promise no tomorrow,

But today will always last,

And since each day is the same way,

There's no longing for the past."

 

So when tomorrow starts without me,

Don't think we're far apart,

For every time you think of me,

I'm right here, in your heart "

-- Author Unknown

_____

By now, you should have tears in your eyes as you ponder the message that the author provides in this poem. I have sent this poem to friends in hospice who have had the same reaction. In fact, I have tears in my eyes as I write this because I know that Carol's and my long and lonely journey is coming to an end -- and I will miss her after almost 57 years of married life.

However, the above poem helps to place things into their proper perspective -- our loved ones are with their Creator, which is their reward for their suffering here on earth. And we continue on our journey with memories of what was -- and hope for what will be when we join our loved one once again.

May God bless you and your loved one as you continue on this "journey of faith." Please email me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com with your comments and/or reactions. I will include them in a future column with your permission. Provide your full name and address. In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state. Thank you.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"As a well-spent day brings happy sleep,

So life well-used brings happy death."

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)


Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

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