Everyone always said he looked liked me: he had a twinkle in his eye.
My son died, and so did the twinkle in my eye. I am now working on healing
myself and getting that twinkle back.
When I wrote my story, "A Mother's Nightmare", I
had no idea it would help me along the path of healing. Seeing the article
in print for the first time, my eyes filled with tears. How could I share
such deep emotions with strangers? I have always been a very private
person and that meant keeping my feelings and emotions tucked safely
inside. What I didn't realize was that by doing this, I was hiding from
the one thing I needed to deal with in order to grow. What you resist,
persists. And the grief was persisting.
When I became a caregiver to my son, I gave up every other part of my
life. Friends tried to get me out, but all I wanted to do was stay home
and look after Andrew. It wasn't until a nurse at the hospital suggested
taking me out to dinner, that I finally went. Andrew insisted that I go,
and told her to make sure I had some fun. Sometimes the patient knows what
the caregiver needs, more than the caregiver does. At 15, he was like an
old soul with wisdom beyond his years. In the hospital, he taught a young
intern how to have compassion, and he taught his doctors to treat him like
a person, not a patient; he taught the nurses to knock on his door before
entering and to respect his privacy. He touched everyone's heart, and
everyone learned something. In his dying days, it was Andrew who gave me
the strength to carry on. We cried together and then laughed together
until one of my tears would drop on his face. It seemed that he held onto
life until he felt certain that I was going to be all right.
After his death, I went to support groups, psychologists, astrologers
and psychics. I attended lectures on reincarnation and past lives, and I
read books -- anything that would help bring me some peace. Everything I
did took me a step further along my path. But it wasn't until after
writing the article, that I was finally able to open up and
release my pent up emotion. People who had known Andrew now felt
comfortable talking to me and sharing memories. Strangers were asking
questions about how I coped during his illness. It was a wonderful feeling
to finally be free enough to talk after seven years.
I thank Gary Barg, the publisher of Today's Caregiver, for encouraging
me to share my story, but mostly I thank myself for having the courage to
write it and allowing myself to become whole again. I survived one of the
worst tragedies in life, and now I need to put that twinkle back in my
eye. I would like to encourage you to join me on this journey of healing
by sharing your experiences and concerns in this column.
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