I fell asleep on the bed at four in the afternoon. I woke up and left long enough to grab some dinner at a wonderful brewery and bring it back to my cozy room. (Interesting: I told Steve as I was leaving that the one thing I didn't feel ready to do on my own was eat dinner at a restaurant. I can do breakfast or lunch. And I can stay in a hotel room alone. But eating by myself at dinner, with all the couples on dates and families on vacation? Nope. Not yet.) I know that pictures of food are boring. And I know my steelhead sandwich means nothing to you. But still ... I have to memorialize the beauty that was THIS SANDWICH.
Because Oregonians love steelhead.
After dinner I did a lot of nothing. I read a little and watched some really silly TV. I mean, QVC at five in the afternoon? I have no explanation for this except it was something that required no brain activity on my part. Upside: If you're in the market for a VitaMix and need to know the five colors available, I'm your girl! I fell asleep a lot of times for little bits of time and come 9 pm, I decided it was time to do some processing (and this is the paragraph you'll want to skip if you do not share my faith. Or you can read it. Just don't say I didn't warn you.)
I prayed and read and thought and, slowly but surely, I felt some layers falling off. Layers of grief and anxiety and confusion ... just sort of falling there onto the floor of that pretty little room. I believe so strongly that our Good Father showed up to help shine a light into the murky, hurting places of my heart and reveal some ways I'm not seeing straight. I thought about sharing with you what those revelations were, but in the end decided it was enough to say: He came. He spoke. I heard. And it changed me. Really ... it changed me. I woke up the next morning feeling differently about my role in this battle. And I just need you to know that getting away—in and of itself—would not have been that effective for me long-term because my responsibilities are still here when I get back. But getting away and experiencing this intersection between my pain and His purpose was really, really important. And it will impact the days and years to come. That's how powerful it is to place our hurting hearts in front of the One who can actually heal them.
This is how crazy things got.
I went to sleep and it would not be an understatement to say: I love sleep. Really, really love it. But I kept wondering how Steve was sleeping at home and wishing I could know for sure he was OK. That doesn't make me feel sad or sorry; it just makes me feel married.
In the morning, I woke up early and read my Bible by the fire looking out on SNOW! So pretty. Such a fun gift. I took a long time getting ready, had a beautiful breakfast in the lodge and then went to church and worshipped with the people dearest to me.
All in all, my short getaway was beyond what I could have asked or imagined. It both emptied and filled me. It freed me and firmed my stance. It was a game changer. A million thank yous to my kids, my sisters and brothers-in-law and all the friends who have made our lives possible for four long years. We are humbled by your care and determined to some day pay it forward.
If you are a caregiver, can I implore you to take some time away to refuel? It's the best thing you could do for the one you love. And if you know a caregiver, this is a good time to think about ways you could help make a little escape possible for him or her. As the holidays near (yikes!) I'll be sharing lots of practical ways you can bless the people around you who are facing a difficult battle.
Finally, let me say: Your outpouring of love and support yesterday was a marvel to me. And the emails I received from other caregivers—well, they're tender and priceless and I cherish them. Thank you is the smallest and biggest thing I can say. I love you.
Bo Stern is a blogger and author of Beautiful Battlefields (NavPress). She knows the most beautiful things can come out of the hardest times. Her Goliath came in the form of her husband's terminal illness, a battle they are still fighting with the help of their four children, a veritable army of friends and our extraordinary God. Bo is a teaching pastor at Westside Church in Bend, Oregon.