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Caregiver's Diary Part 2: Learning to Accept the Things You Can't Change

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

A lot has changed since the last Caregiver's Diary I wrote back in July 2021.

I had full intentions at the time of continuing the series monthly, but life and caregiving responsibilities - and the pain I felt when I wrote about it - got in the way.

Since then, we lost Dad - in June 2022, a week ahead of Father's Day. Both he and his body were so tired of struggling and fighting, and the Lord decided to call him home, nearly 11 years after he started dialysis.

As painful as that was to digest, both Mom and I were comforted by the thought that, as far as we knew, he was in a much better place. He could see again, he could walk again, he could eat whatever he wanted, and he wouldn't have to be hooked to a dialysis machine three times a week. 

He would be free from what he had to endure healthwise while he was still with us.

Not long after we lost Dad and were beginning the process of going through his things to donate them, I told Mom that now the focus would be on her and her health. She had put off some of her appointments to care for my dad, and unfortunately, because of that, we didn't find out until October 2022 that she had colon cancer, later determined to be stage IIIB.

Fortunately, my experience being her "second in command" on the caregiving of my dad gave me valuable insight into the "we can do this" mode I had to spring into in the immediate aftermath of her cancer diagnosis. She's also had a wonderful care team, from her surgical oncologist and his staff to her medical oncologist and his staff - and everyone in between.  

All along the way, however, my frustration with her having to go through all she did prior to being diagnosed and after - which included two surgeries and chemo - has often been very high, because being her daughter, I have wanted to be able to "fix" what was wrong, just like she wanted to do when my sisters and I had a "hurt" as kids. 

I wanted to change the situation so she could live her golden years in the peace, comfort, and contentment she deserves without her worrying about anything beyond the normal aches and pains associated with getting older. 

That is absolutely one of the hardest things about caregiving, learning to accept that there are things you can't change and then resting in it. I couldn't change my dad's deteriorating health situation, and I couldn't cure my mom's cancer. I had to rest in the knowledge that God was in control. 

And while that's comforting, a part of you - the human side with all the failings that come with that - spends many sleepless nights hitting the pillow with your fists because there's so little that you can do to make a situation "right."

So you wait. And hope. And pray - a lot - that things will go the way you want them to, and that your loved one goes to sleep each night content in the knowledge that they are cared for, loved, and not alone -- and that as long as there is breath in you, you will be there for them and with them every step of the way.

Related VIP reading: A Reminder to Appreciate the Little Things

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