I was 28 years old when my fiancé was diagnosed with colon cancer. We headed into the emergency room just two months before our wedding, he was having pain I was sure was caused by his excessive pizza eating, beer drinking and ball-of-stress attitude.
I’ll never forget that day. I heard the word “cancer” and had my “happily ever after” ripped from my hands. Doctors and nurses explained that a “mass” had been found. They talked about different stages of cancer. There were times for surgeries, colonoscopies and IV pain meds.
I heard nothing but the tears dripping down my chin.
“Are you his caregiver?” a woman asked as she took down my information.
The word enraged me.
Caregiver? I’m not old.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite, if anything he takes care of me. Yes, that’s right, he’s mycaregiver, you can write that down on that little form, lady. He packs my lunch and sends me reminders if I’m dangerously close to overdrafting my bank account. I’m not responsible enough for this job. I never applied for this job.
A caregiver? That’s for adults. I’m not even understanding the words people are spouting at me, how can I make these decisions.
“I’m his fiancé.” I answered.
“Do you have a living will?” the questions continued.
“Are you insane?” I thought.
So, there I stood. I suddenly had a new job title, like it or not.
We made it through surgery in time for our wedding and for me to get the title of “Mrs” that I longed for. Instead of heading to our honeymoon, we went to the beautiful suites of hotel chemo.
Caring for my sick and dying husband was the greatest honor of my life. Caring for my sick and dying husband was also the greatest heartache I’ve ever had to bear.
It’s a thankless and horrific job and one I’d do one million times all over again.
These are the confessions of a caregiver.
When applying for the job no one would ever apply for, there are a series of requirements you’ll need:
My husband fought cancer for three years before he died in November 2014. And it’s only now I wear the title of “caregiver” like a badge of honor. I was with him until his final breath and for me it is the most beautiful gift I know I could have ever given him.
As my caregiving turned into grieving I have found one line that sticks with me. I found it while searching the internet feverishly in the middle of the night, hoping that google could give me any kind of guidance to numb this pain. Then, there it was and I knew the job I never wanted, made the biggest difference.
“I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with you, and then I realized, you spent the rest of your life with me.”