Rebuilding My Spirit!

I had three goals for this past weekend. First, I wanted to finish the almost 300 thank you notes for the outpouring of love and support we received upon Tim’s passing. Check!! Second, I wanted to get my LEGO bricks out again and dust them off as I hadn’t touched them since Tim’s first stroke on July 10th. Check!! And finally I wanted to start on a presentation called “Rebuilding the Spirit of the Caregiver” that I’m giving next month in St. Croix. Check!!

What I didn’t know was the fact that I would be including grieving as part of the presentation. Being a caregiver is hard work and you grieve the loss of the person and the relationship you had with them even before they die. That’s especially true if you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s because the person you knew leaves you sometimes many years before they actually die. As I was doing my research and putting my presentation together I felt a true calmness and peace come over me. Who knew that this presentation would hit so close to home for me. 

Several months ago while talking with the woman who booked me to do this presentation as well as my Being My Mom’s Mom presentation, she stated that I was just what the caregiver support groups needed to rebuild their spirit! I was flattered at the time but as I am beginning to write my speech, I realize that I’m also going to be rebuilding myself and my own spirit in the process! My frienily (friends who are family) Paul Roberts Abernathy pointed out to me that soon “I’ll come to my new normal and new me, never again as I was”. I hadn’t actually thought about there being a new me in the future, but realized after a few paragraphs into my speech how right Paul is. The caregiving experience I had with Tim was only seven days in length, but it felt like the most intense caregiving boot camp ever and I was a different person at the end of it. I was somewhat at peace after Tim’s death because his “going to sleep” was so much better than what he would have faced with the three months or so he would have had left to live with pancreatic cancer. I would never have wanted Tim to suffer so in those last two days when it became obvious that Tim wasn’t going to survive, I also felt myself becoming stronger every hour. In my last few minutes alone with Tim I promised him that I’d be fine after he left and that I’d continue with all the travel plans we made. I assured him that I’d see to it that the yard guy would trim the hedges just as he liked, that I would learn how to fix things around the house, that I’d find a good price for a new roof in the next few months and that I’d learn how to work our vacuum cleaner. I’m doing pretty well so far! I even purchased a new car already to carry out some of the errands Tim used to do with mom. I hadn’t actually planned on doing that until September so I know I’m already stronger than I was. A “newer me” is emerging. 

My friend Carol Bradley Bursack commented that my rebuilding the spirit presentation will have “amazing authenticity”. Ain’t that the truth! In addition to the grieving topic, I’ll also be talking about finding joy again and relying on others when you need help as part of rebuilding the spirit. I’ll be doing a hands-on exercise on the importance of play and will have a short period of meditation too. All things I myself am doing right now and will continue in the coming months. Tim was supposed to go to St. Croix with me, and he absolutely will be with me in spirit. He loved the beach and the hotel where the conference will be held is right on the water. 

Before and after my presentations I’ll go down to the beach and run up and down in my bare feet yelling and laughing with a big smile on my face just as Tim would do! As I continue to work through the stages of grief I also know that each day I’ll also be working on rebuilding my spirit too! Thank you Tim for being the amazing man and lover of life that you were. You certainly rubbed off on a lot of people!! Love you! 


13 thoughts on “Rebuilding My Spirit!

  1. Wonderful post, Loretta! I don’t know quite where or how to begin to comment, for there is much of which you write that resonates within me… So, I’ll jump in! The most powerful part is your delineating how you’re coming into your “new me” (and I don’t start there simply because I made the observation to you about that, for whether I did or didn’t, you’d be doing precisely what you are doing, which is the MOST important thing!). I also am touched deeply by your describing anew your dawning peace with Tim’s death, for you never would want him to have suffered, and your growing strength as you forge ahead taking responsibility with resolve to do all those things Tim did so well in support of your life as a couple. Yours words, too, of sharing with Tim before he died that you would carry on bring tears to my eyes. AND your preparation for your time and presentation in St. Croix will hold you in good stead as your share, in part, the story of your caregiving for blessed Doris and, in new part, your experience of Tim’s death and your seminal learnings from that poignant moment. Carry on! Sally forth! Love

    • Paul, thank you so much!!

      I’m absolutely working on ALL the promises I made to Tim before he died. I confess however that it was Pontheolla who showed me how to turn on the vacuum cleaner!!! But in broken English / Spanish I did communicate how the hedges in the front yard need to be cut and I’m currently interviewing roofing companies!!

      I’m fitting in time to do errands that Tim used to do so this past Saturday I went grocery shopping, to the bank and the cleaners and it only took an hour to complete all three. So I’m learning that fitting it all in isn’t going to be as daunting as I originally thought. That I believe I will be successful in adding stuff to my already full calendar makes me even stronger.

      Please know that I wouldn’t be nearly as far along on this journey without the help you and Pontheolla provided!! I’ll continue to carry on!! Love

      • Wonderful! You will be successful in this necessary transition in major part, I believe, because you already have been and are successful in navigating life’s changes presented by chance and circumstance, none of which any of us can control. Therefore, beloved sister, you have a sterling track record of accomplishment!

        A moment ago, I was reflecting afresh on your latest post and I thought to myself and so, here, I write and share with you: You are A-MA-ZING!

        Much love

  2. Thank you Thank you Paul!! I’m guessing that during parts of this journey I won’t feel that great or successful, so I’ll be calling you and Pontheolla during those times!! Much love

    • Of course you always “won’t feel that great or successful.” Life and we are like that. There is nothing more consistent than the inconsistency of how we feel from moment to moment. But, my dear, know and believe this, just as you always “won’t feel that great or successful”, you never will always feel un-great and unsuccessful! So, let us pray with assurance that the moments of your feeling great and successful far surpass the un-great and unsuccessful moments!

  3. As always you leave me I’m tears, whether it be happy or sad. This time I say they were happy tears as I can see and even feel your transitioning into your new normal and all the new experiences that lay ahead. Your the best Mrs. V.

  4. Ret, while so many of us have said how strong you are, have always been, I don’t think some of us realized just how strong you are. To be able to let others see into your grief and how you are coming into your new normal shows an incredible amount of strength. I know your presentations will end with even more hope for others. I know previous presentations have left others with hope, but after recent experiences and how you are coming out even stronger than before, that has to give others great hope.

    I’ll imagine you running up and down the beach, I can see Tim doing that! How he loved life! I’m happy that you are able to start rebuilding your spirit! I love you tons!

  5. Love you too my sister!!!! I can’t wait to go! I was dreading it at first, but I’m excited now to run in the sand. Cancelling Tim’s ticket was hard, and it hurt but I do feel better about it now because he will be with me in spirit!!

  6. You are amazing, Loretta. Your strength and grace are truly awe-inspiring, and Tim is surely there with you every step of the way. This upcoming presentation in St. Croix may be the most important one you’ve ever done. The attendees will feel the passion and meaning in your words like never before. It’s going to be so impactful. Sending you love and looking forward to hearing about the upcoming trip!

    • Thanks Ann!! Tim most certainly is with me throughout this!! I feel the same way – this presentation could be huge for me on many levels. I haven’t seen the agenda for the entire conference but both of my presentations are keynote speeches for the entire group of caregivers. There are almost 700 of them across St.Thomas and St. Croix all coming together for this conference. So I pray my message will be impactful! They even purchased books in advance for each of them. I’m really looking forward to it. When the conference is over, I land at midnight in DC in time to meet you at the US Against Alzheimer’s conference a few hours later. Good thing I have a lot of energy!

      • Oh good… that makes me happier than you can imagine. I didn’t want to ask at this point, because I know you have so much on your plate. I’m thrilled to know you’ll be there, my friend! And yes, I think you have more energy than the energizer bunny himself!! xo

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