Letting Go: A Caregiver’s Journey
After Molly went into the memory care unit, I had a real sense that my life was over. It had certainly lost its purpose. I didn’t see any way forward.
And I thought the stars had aligned against us in a profound way. We were good people. We made some mistakes, but, on the whole, we did most everything right. We loved each other. We adopted our three kids and raised them with the love they never had before they came to us. We worked hard. We cared about our students, especially, and made every effort to help them. I was even an honest real estate dealer (I don’t recommend it if you want to make a living.)
So why all the bad stuff: my cancer, Molly’s Alzheimer’s, D.J.’s mental illness?
What seemed clear is that a loving God couldn’t be involved. So, there were two possibilities: either God was distant and didn’t care, or God just didn’t exist. I vacillated between the two positions. But mostly I was plain angry with God.
I talked about this in my Twelve Step meetings, and my sponsor had a suggestion. He and his wife had taken A Course in Miracles. He explained that in the Course one learned about a God of Love. One also learned that our pain and suffering, indeed, the body and the whole physical world were but illusions. God held us in the love in which he created us, and our eternal selves were destined to be reunited with our Creator in Love and Light.
For whatever reason, the idea of being with people who believed in a God of Love seemed appealing, and I signed up for the Course.
It has led to a major shift in my perspective to where I can at least see the possibility that the following is true: Molly’s Alzheimer’s affects only her body, which is a material shell for her true spiritual self. Her true self is all right. God is taking care of her, and she will be peaceful and joyful with God in eternity.
I certainly want to believe that this is true. It is a lot better than where I started. It also lets me off the hook. If Molly’s disease is meaningless compared to her spiritual life, then what I did or didn’t do for her didn’t matter. God is in charge, and God is taking good care of her. I don’t have to worry or feel guilty.
I also have a new network of support in the ACIM group. It’s an interesting mix. We talk about philosophy and theology. We talk about various forms of healing: physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. We talk about spiritual experiences; insights; and small, everyday miracles.
It is cathartic. It is comforting. It is stimulating. My original purpose in joining the group turns out to be true: it is good for me to be around people who believe in a God of Love.