A Month in Another World

Trapped inside a body that is weak. Unable to get up and move around independently. A very private person forced into intimate connection with another. Dependent.

Many memories erased; photos holding no meaning; names having no significance. What were once fun moments when a partner would play the piano are painful reminders of what is no longer; best avoided. Little interest in reading or art, once passions.

Absences, when two days at a time can disappear. Aware of what is going on around you but unable to express more than one-word answers to direct questions.

I am one of her carers at the moment. A friend with whom she dined, partied, has gone beyond the boundaries of friendship to cross into the realm of the intimate, a realm we never imagined we would share.

I am here for a month, helping out because her partner cannot lift for a month following an operation. I am spending a month in their world. It is a difficult, challenging, exhausting place. At the end of the month I will walk away to my life, visiting maybe once a week.

A situation like this makes you re-evaluate everything you took for granted, makes you reassess your life. I routinely take time to think how lucky I am compared to so many in the world. I am thinking that more and more at the moment.

My friend is grateful. I am humbled. I don’t want her to feel grateful. I want us to be equals. I tell her I am learning so much being with her: how to hold, how to support, how to be intimate while respecting personal space. I am learning more about her condition. I feel useful in this role. I have a purpose.

I often use this blog space to remind myself and those who read it about gratitude. Never more than now have I felt the need to be thankful for what I have.

The second day I was here I hurt my back lifting my friend. As a result, I have had painful nights and uncomfortable days. Yet I cannot complain. My discomfort is nothing compared to my friend’s and to her husband’s. I need to stay positive for their sakes. We all need to stay positive.

Values and Visions urges us to start from the here and now, the issue at the moment. Our three-way visioning encourages us to project ourselves into the future to where we want to be: fit, well, cured; to identify how we will feel when we are there: happy, optimistic, relieved. Next we reflect on our current situation, the here and now: the pain, the degradation, the memory loss, the sense of unfairness (why me?) and how we feel now: frustrated, angry, confused, humiliated. Finally, what’s better today? Less support needed to get to the bathroom, enjoyment of a good meal, laughter at a silly joke.  This is helping me at the moment and, I hope, my friends.

For the full script of Three-way Visioning see Values and Visions: Engaging Students, Refreshing Teachers available via: https://values-and-visions.com/resource-store-and-free-activities/ or as a .pdf download from our store on https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Values-And-Visions.

By 2 Comments February 12, 2022
  • Nickhola La Brooy">Nickhola La Brooy
    February 26, 2022

    What a beautifully written and immensely moving piece of writing.All the more so for its spare and economical use of words, which communicate powerful emotion and the very deepest of human feelings better than the most full descriptions.

    Yes. I hear you. Not only worry, and gratitude. But boundaries too, and that is a very big one. Physical intimacy enforced by dependence, where both parties have to find a way to navigate the often shocking or distressing new parameters of their relationship. But to do so with such affection, respect and goodwill – darlings, you are doing something wonderful and remarkable every hour that you are there.

    But this must be so very hard. Not just energy wise, and because you also hurt your poor back Sally taking care of her – but the dismembering and reassembly of a precious long term friendship which must now be so abruptly reconfigured.

    I send so much love to your friend, and to both of you. I honour you greatly for your support, tact, strength, generosity, kindness and humour towards this lady. What a very marvellous thing you are doing, and what courage she is showing. I hope very much that she can heal and recover her independence and her life as she knew it once more. Many many blessings to all of you-


    • Sally Burns
      February 27, 2022

      Thank you for your thoughtful, insightful and, above all, loving response. It means a lot.

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