Burdens + Supplemental Love
What is a Burden?
We are wired to take care of each other, spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend, neighbor, stranger.
Personally, I don't like the term "burden" used in the context of caring for someone we love. Nor do I want anyone to feel they are a burden, but at one time or another this is the case.
Can we redefine burden? We all worry about our mortality, diagnosis, age, hereditary, and for some, these thoughts are closer, a horrific reality.
We can help each other by talking openly about burdens and redefine in our own, personal context. Make light with loved ones, physicians, and others. Deny its very existence and consider a new term: supplemental love.
Supplemental love can focus on necessities and get through chemo, radiation, biologics, clinical trials, all manner of trials. Caring during this process is a love adjacent to, in addition to, that love-bond we already have with our child, spouse, parent, sibling. Supplemental love knows no burdens, or boundaries; only trust, compassion and respect; it embraces grace.
Is It Time to Die?
My son asked me, "Is it time to die?" We weren't prepared for the DNR (do not resuscitate) discussion, I wasn't prepared for his question. And even now, my thoughts return to that late Sunday evening, when the conversation was forced upon us. The trusted and familiar oncologist not present, a different hospital, a team of strangers. Thankfully, once the decision was made, I could email his oncologist of almost five years, who weighed in and agreed, DNR was the right decision. That evening will stay with me forever, I look back and feel so useless, so small. There was nothing I could do, but support the decision Steve made on his own.
Support at this Time
There were many small, inconsequential tasks for me at this time. Calling family and friends, discussions with physicians and nurses, and ultimately clergy. Many, many conversations and prayers. Making requests to the staff and asking questions was helpful, at least I was doing something. Ultimately we waited over twelve hours for breathing to stop. When all was dark and quiet, Steve began his next journey. He once said, "This is just another adventure we're having" and I pray he's enjoying it now.