Love is Caregiving
|Love is the Best Medicine|
“May I warm up something in the microwave for you?”
A man who never was and isn’t and will probably never will be my lover gave me love in a moment I needed it most. In my frazzled, sleep-deprived state, after rescuing my mother nearly dead in a pool of blood -- she had a bad fall, almost cracked her skull and miraculously survived -- the hired nursing assistant gave me a gift that wasn’t wrapped in ribbons.
The gift was him – or more appropriately -- his care and attention.
And most importantly, I gave myself the gift of receiving.
A gentle giant. A big guy with backbone. Someone I can count on in my time of greatest need.
While it was his paid duty, there was something incredibly intimate and tender about both of us tucking my aging parents into bed. Their dead-weight bodies and sagging skin would be the only touch we would share. Their complaints – which in Alzheimer’s patients usually only last for a few minutes before short-term memory dissipates -- were punctuated by knowing smiles and glances between us. It’s as if we had children together.
I’ve been enduring years of many hospitalizations in which I act as the first responder, supervising the triage for my parents.
This time around, once mom was discharged and safely back home in bed, the hired caregiver had the presence of heart to focus on my obvious anxiety and ask: “what can I do for you?”
It's the first time we had hired help.
I was confused and elated. I hadn’t heard those words from anyone beloved in a long time. And most certainly, the nursing aid wasn’t getting paid to fix dinner for the primary caregiver.
I never ate that microwaved dinner with him. I’m sure it would have been a great cup of noodles.
But there are miracles.
More importantly, the kindness of his intention soothed me. The gesture alone fed my heart and I walked back home alone with a huge grin on my face. My heart was full – the best non-sex and non-meal I’ve ever had.
I’ll probably never see this caregiver again, but I’m grateful for the lesson he taught me: all forms of love are a form of caregiving.
When you give so much love unconditionally, you deserve it in return, even from a stranger and much more -- incredibly more, by the bucket full -- from any beloved in your life.