Fingers… reddened joints. swollen. painful. I’m caregiving again. To an elderly person with Rheumatoid Arthritis you might ask. I would answer, nope, just to my pre-teen son suffering an allergic reaction to some medication. Caregiving or at least worry includes a couple of sleepless nights checking often to make sure he’s still breathing. This activity conjures up memories of those first-born newborn days. He seems to be getting better as the rash that was covering about 30% of his upper body is fading but the swollen joint pain continues. “Dad, I can’t open this” is something I have heard often over the last couple of days. He must use two hands to hold a cup. The pain is so bad that he can’t operate his Xbox controller! It is difficult to observe this level of incapacitation even with assurances that it is temporary. By the way, the pediatrician is aware and continues to guide our treatment but basically we have to wait it out.
This has been a particularly stressful few days. It is not only the fact that I’m watching the boy suffer but it has also been a constant reminder that I’m the only parent. Now couple that reminder with fatigue and one can have moments of feeling sorry for oneself. ….CAN…didn’t say I WAS. … really.
I feel that I need to add here that I believe this is NOT a “grieving the loss of my wife” feeling. Yes, I miss her. Yes, I think of her often. No, I will never forget her. Yes, after nearly 30 years of knowing her she will always be a part of me. But I believe I am integrating her death into my life today and moving on in a healthy manner.
So then, what are these thoughts? (certainly not feelings, I’m a guy, right?) I think it is missing the healthy aspects of a marriage relationship. It’s thoughts about not having one to share in these events. It’s a reminder that I am single and did not choose to be so.
Addressing the rash (pun intended) of illnesses with the boy has been nearly constant the last two and half months. It is stressful. Add to that the stress of trying to find a new routine in the new house since June’s house fire. And its stressful doing it alone. No wonder married people live longer, healthier lives. In a healthy marriage relationship stressful times such as these are met together even if it is only one who must face the brunt of the stress. Being single means I do not have the emotional intimacy found in healthy marriage relationships. Harder still is knowing I once had it and now it is gone. I miss the words of encouragement that only a spouse can offer. I miss the feel of arms encircling me and holding me as only a spouse can do. I miss the little things that mean so much like a back rub—my back being rubbed—that hits the spot where stress meets muscle.
I do miss all that a healthy marriage relationship offers and moments like these bring those longings to the forefront. I’m sure that having experienced a great marriage as I did increases the feelings of stress in moments like these because I remember how they could be mitigated by a loving spouse. I suspect these feelings are overly strong right now as I prepare my material for an upcoming marriage seminar. Considering these points along with the current stressors probably goes a long way in creating an environment just right for some interesting….thought….moments.
So as I consider my circumstances I remind myself of some lessons learned. My faith helps me to understand that Christ alone is sufficient. With Him I can do all things. And that in His perfect timing all things will come about. I do find peace. Not only with my stress but with my singleness.
Now back to the boy. Yes, I’m hoping he gets better soon. …I’m tired of doing the dishes myself.