The Sword Cuts Both Ways

16 Feb

Valentine’s Day has not been much fun since Chuck had a stroke. It seems as if everyone (at least everyone on Facebook) was getting flowers or candy, or making plans for dinner. Chuck always was very thoughtful on this day. He would draw me a little cartoon in the morning before going to work. When he came home, he would bring flowers and a card. Now he doesn’t even realize it’s Valentine’s Day, much less wish me a happy one or get me a gift. This February 14th, I kept myself busy all day to avoid dwelling on what I’ve lost. Toward the end of the day, I realized I really hadn’t felt that bad, which was novel. I decided to post something about it on Facebook. Here’s what I wrote:

“I was tempted to feel sorry for myself today, but then I remembered all the times Chuck brought me flowers when it wasn’t even St. Valentine’s Day. I’m lucky that I found someone who genuinely caring, thoughtful, generous, and so many other wonderful things. He still is, even if he can’t express it in the tradition ways. I’d rather have him here, as is, than all the flowers, candy, and “Be Mine” cards in the world. Plus, he’s given me the biggest gift of all: a way to express MY love in a way most people aren’t called upon to do, by taking care of him.”

I was surprised and overwhelmed by the responses I got. Forty-eight people “liked” the post and 15 people commented. “Laura, this is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all day!!! What a fabulous valentine for your husband!!! What a beautiful spirit you have!” said one person. “I don’t know your story, but I’ve never heard a sweeter Valentine!” said another. I was very gratified by these and all the other kind words. Each time I got another, I felt I had received a little Valentine.

However, as I appended to the post, the sword cuts both ways. My words that day were sincere, but today I felt differently; I was seized with panic at the magnitude of my responsibility, which entraps me. I would love to take off, like I used to do, to visit my sisters or a friend; but I can’t leave Chuck by himself for a weekend. I need a break now and then, but I am not in control of it anymore, and I resent that fact.

I know it will pass if I don’t dwell on it. So as soon as I post this, I’m going to go out in the sunshine of a warm winter afternoon and take a long walk with my dogs. I will endeavor to release the panic and resentment and let them be replaced once more with gratitude and acceptance. The battle never ends; the sword is always poised. I just have to keep on fighting.


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