Last week, in the pool at the resort in Phoenix where I was staying, I met a woman named Diana who inspired me with her decision to take care of herself even in the midst of the hardest season of life. Her dear husband is in long-term hospice care with COPD and complications after a significant back injury. She has been caring for him while caring for the rest of the family and working as an HR director for a large company. She felt helpless to help her husband with the pain, ...heartbroken at watching him begin to slip away, and emotionally and physically exhausted. She wasn't sure how much longer she could keep it all together. Then she heard of a program offered through hospice called "respite" - they will provide 24-hour round the clock care in a hospital setting for up to 5 days so the main caregiver can have a break. "How wonderful!" she thought, "I need this break so much." She made a plan to leave the cold spring in St. Louis and meet her BFF of 35 years in Phoenix to get some much needed warmth from the sun and from just being with her friend. But then the doubts crept in ... What happens if he passes while I am gone? What will the (young adult) kids say? (Hint: they were not fans of the idea.) What kind of person would leave in the middle of all of this? But she knew that she was about to break. She was trying so hard to be strong for everyone. She just needed some time with her best friend to cry, to talk, to laugh, and to rest. So she did it. She got on that plane. And when I met her
, she and her friend were just about to fly home (to Colorado and Missouri) after 5 days of love and friendship. She was ready to finish the journey she and her husband were on together. I wished her well and told her she was an inspiration.
Sometimes taking care of yourself takes guts and courage. But the reality is, you can't take care of anyone else if you crash and burn.