I feel like I am learning some major life lessons through some pretty difficult circumstances right now. Some of the people that I thought would be our biggest support systems have not been. I do believe that people have the best of intentions. but have terrible follow through. They are caught up in their busy lives and I get it. That was me. I have never been a doer. I have the gift of encouragement and I do that well. I pray for people, I make connections to their circumstances, and I genuinely care. I work to be upbeat, and I have decent follow through. The problem is, I have no idea what to DO to help people. It doesn’t come naturally. I watch others with that gift, and I am always amazed at how they could think of that. Then I think, “I could have done that.” I just never thought of it. It isn’t my gift.
My biggest challenge is when people ask, “What can I do to help?” I have no idea. I am one of those people who cannot make a decision to save my life. As a young child, I remember my grandmother giving me two choices. I could either do one thing or the other. I told her her that I didn’t care. She could choose. She insisted that I make a choice or we wouldn’t do either one. So, we didn’t do either one. It sounds a little ridiculous, but this is true. If I have an opinion or an idea, I share it. If I don’t know or care, I really don’t know or care. You can’t force it out of me.
Maybe that is part of the reason why we have gone through so much adversity. Maybe I need to be stronger, and be a better decision maker. Perhaps this is MY lesson. I know one thing, I couldn’t go through any of this without my faith. I feel like I am clinging to my Maker with all I have . Is my husband’s health diagnosis for my growth and character development? Does He want me to do something great with what I have experienced and learned? Does He want me to be the voice of the voiceless and encouragement for the caregivers? I have no clue. As I prepared for taking my Driver’s Test, we got to the end of the driveway. My mother told me to turn toward Belfast. I asked her whether I needed to turn left or right. I have a terrible sense of direction. She told me that I needed to figure it out or we’d sit there all day. I cried. I had no clue. I just picked one, and we just drove. She said nothing until I figured out that we had gone the wrong way. 32 years later, I am still struggling. I just don’t know what I need and I don’t know which way to turn.
What has helped, and what has always helped, is when someone just tells me what to do or just does something for me. I am a rule follower. More than anything, I just want people to tell me what to do and I will just do it. I wonder if that is part of what I need to learn? I am not strong. I am a wimp. I don’t like to be in charge, although an awful lot of what I do in a day is a result of decisions I have had to make. I can do it, and when I am in my element, I do a good job at it. The problem is, I am not in my element. I have no clue what I am supposed to be doing. Maybe that is why the list that the Support Group gave me has given me such comfort, and why I haven’t finished everything on the list. What am I supposed to do when everything is done? I don’t want to be in charge. I don’t want to be a decision maker, and more than anything, I don’t want to be alone.
“What can I do to help?” Friends, co-workers, family, and neighbors keep asking. I really don’t have a clue. I can tell you what has helped. Coffee cures nearly everything. Not just coffee in a cup, but coffee with a friend. I can’t cry at home. He is watching me every second, and when I lose it, he crashes. I can’t do that to him. Gift cards have helped. I am now the only wage earner. Money is tight, and there are very few groceries in the pantry and refrigerator. Money donations have helped. My salary does not come close to paying the monthly bills and we don’t qualify for any assistance. Another thing that has helped is fixing vehicles and household breakdowns like the garbage disposal that spews food every time you turn it on. These are things I can’t do. We have appreciated home cooked meals, cards and letters. All, show us that people are out there that care, and that we aren’t alone. For us, the internet is a gift. Social media keeps us feeling like part of the world, and Skype with grandchildren bring smiles and laughter to our quiet home. Visitors are the best. He gets so lonely. He longs for contact with the outside world, but because he struggles so much in crowds and stimulated areas, he is most comfortable at home. He needs people to come to him and so do I. Sometimes I have to work late, or I get evening and overnight invitations, and I can’t leave him anymore. It terrifies me, and as a result, I don’t enjoy myself because I can’t relax.
It is comforting to me to know that know matter what, I have people out there who are watching me. They just know what I need, and what he needs, without me saying a word. Some of you just have that gift and I am so blessed to have you as part of my life and a part of my support system. When people ask me how I am doing, sometimes you get frustrated because you get an update on him. But you need to understand that when he is doing well, so am I. My prayers have changed. They are short and nonspecific. I thank God for the blessings and ask him to just take care of us and our precious children. He knows what we need. The following is one of my favorite verses. Even if we don’t know what we need, we can’t make a decision, don’t know which way to turn, and have no clue what we need, God has got us covered. Maybe that is what I needed to learn more than anything. I am still afraid if I think too hard or look too far into the future. I am still a wimp. So, I bow my head, don’t look too far ahead, and take just one step at a time with one breath at a time.