I love love. Happy couples make me smile. My favourite movies are the ones where the boy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. In real life we know that “happily ever after” doesn’t exist. Good relationships take a lot of work and sometimes they are happy, sometimes sad, sometimes mad, and sometimes they are simply perfect.
A few years into our marriage, I thought I had it all figured out. I quickly caught on to the secret of a happy relationship. I realized that if I put my husband before myself and committed my life to making him happy, he would be happy. And if he was happy and had all his needs met, he’d reciprocate. Simple, right? In theory it’s simple, in reality, not so much. It’s a little more complicated than that, especially when you’re selfish like me.
Mike was easy to please; a plate of spaghetti and a “quickie” and he was more than happy. I wasn’t that easy. I’m not talking about spaghetti and quickies, not at all because, a) I’m gluten free, so I don’t eat spaghetti and b) Quickies are for men, I think most women enjoy going slow. What I mean is, I was more difficult to please. I was more selfish than he was. And even though in my heart I believed my “put him first” plan was the best way to a successful marriage, I often veered from “the plan” with the attitude, “what about me?”
Throughout my marriage, when I struggled with “the plan”, I prayed that the Lord would help me. Serving others and denying yourself is tough, it’s a process — it’s a practice that doesn’t always come easy. So, I prayed, and well, you know what they say, “Be careful what you wish for.” In March of 2011, God said, “Here’s your opportunity.”
With God’s help and the help of family and home care support, I joyfully served my husband unselfishly for almost four years while his health declined from the effects of ALS. I didn’t really have a choice in taking care of him, but I had a choice in the “joyfully” part, although, Mike made it easy to serve him with a joyful heart. Don’t get me wrong, taking care of him wasn’t easy. It was a challenge every single day and sometimes I thought I might break. It's amazing how only three and a half months have gone by since Mike passed away and I’ve already forgotten how excruciating caring for a man with ALS can be. Its kind of like after having a baby. You forget the pain and are left with the blessing.
I guess I could say my plan worked. I put Mike first and met all of his needs to the best of my ability and he was happy and his happiness made me happy. Mike had an awesome attitude regardless, which was helpful and I gave thanks for that everyday. I was in awe and I was so humbled.
He was so thankful. I remember telling him not to waste his precious breath and energy thanking me so much. Thinking about his look of gratitude melts my heart. He was so grateful and he was so patient with me.
I say, “Thank you for making my job as easy as possible Michael Sands. Thank you for making me laugh in the grief and for smiling at me when I was at my wits end.” And he would probably say, “Thanks for all the spaghetti and quickies. And thanks for denying yourself and serving me…you did a good job!”
I’ve said a few times how happy I am Mike’s free. He probably thinks the same thing about me. I can barely type this statement without losing it because I would have taken care of him for fifty more years. Oh my goodness, I miss him so much.
Me and Mike last summer
Love and prayers to all the care givers out there. My heart goes out to you.
For those of you who haven't seen my Facebook post, my next book signing is on Saturday, May 2 from 3:00 to 6:00pm at T's/Once Upon a Tealeaf located on 224th St in Maple Ridge. It's a lovely gift and tea shop. A special tea will be sold with proceeds going to ALS. Thank you Cindy, owner of T's.
Copies of my book available now at T's and House of James Book Store in Abbotsford BC and coming to Black Bond Books here in Maple Ridge. Also available online at amazon http://amzn.to/1FFBkSS.
Like my Facebook page, Hold On Let Go/ALS With Courage to see pictures and get more details.