A Caregiver's Prayer

by Ginnie Horst Burkholder

We stand at the window of our front door watching the morning fog lie like a thick wet blanket over the damp landscape. On the horizon, the early August sun sends fingers of light that shift and move, filtering through the breaking fog like a giant kaleidoscope in slow motion. The black silhouette of a tree stands tall and proud in its misty shawl. With each passing moment, streams of light penetrate the fog at yet higher angles, shifting the picture as if to announce new possibilities. Nothing stays the same it tells me – not the achingly beautiful life of love, not the dark journey of sorrow.

We wait for Nelson’s adult day care bus, for the sun to warm us, and for the day to unfold. What will it bring? I’ve placed his name on three waiting lists for long-term care. The first choice facility has five people ahead of him. I am ready. The decision seems right, and now that it is made I hope for things to move quickly. I’ve talked with him about it, but he has forgotten.

I will continue to talk with him at appropriate moments and intervals. Not too often, because he becomes full of questions he can’t articulate. Even if his questions are intelligible, he often can’t comprehend or remember; and then he worries me into exasperation. But I do not want him to feel blindsided.

Welcome warmth

The bus arrives as the sun continues to burn off the moisture that has cluttered the misty air like a visual static. The heat begins to soak my joints with welcome warmth, an invitation to action. It begins to dry yesterday’s laundry still on the line: a reminder of unfinished business.

Questions crowd my mind. How will we adjust? Will I be able to visit his environment and manage my reactivity to fragrances and cleaners? How long will we wait? I know the fears I bring to this day and the changes that lie ahead. Or do I? Let me find wisdom and courage as predictable as daylight. Burn off the haze that keeps me from seeing clearly. Remove the static that keeps me confused and questioning.

Ribbon of summer sun

What will I find today under this ever-brightening ribbon of sunlight? Let me listen to our voices, God, yours and mine, commingling as they sift through need and want, fear and reassurance, loss and loneliness, gifts and gratefulness. Let these conversations inform my course to choose, speak, and act. Without attentiveness to your words and mine, I am lost and helpless to penetrate the fog of change. Let me wrap each change, whether it brings love or sorrow, in a ribbon of summer sun boldness and receive each shift in my life with anticipation for its potential to paint new pictures and reveal new treasures.


© 2009 Ginnie Horst Burkholder

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