My writing started right after I dropped Robert off at the long-term care home, his new forever home. The place I would visit him. The place that had trained staff to care for his needs 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The best place for him….I told myself over and over again.
I sat in our empty king sized bed trying to erase the look I saw on his face when I said good-bye. His look wasn’t bewildered, angry or quizzical. It was mostly blank, not fully comprehending what was happening. The look justified why he was there, but didn’t ease my guilt.
He was happily led to the social room where he would meet new friends that talked the same gibberish as him. He would become the favourite of the staff and residents until his Dementia created an uncontrollable aggressive behavior.
As I sat in bed trying to push that memory away I pulled out my journals from the past years and started reading them. I read about the frustration, sadness, and loss of my marriage, my husband and my freedom to be who I used to be. I wept and slept for a few hours then woke up when the darkness had blanketed the room.
I washed up and proceeded to get my PJs on when it occurred to me how lucky I was to have met Robert. No matter what madness had happened over the last 10 years, I felt blessed to have had such a wonderful person in my life. We had so many fun and joyful moments before Dementia came knocking. I wanted to focus on the good times. I didn’t want the negative thoughts or memories to take control of me and my future.
I started to write about the first time we met, our first kiss, how handsome he was, what a great dad he had become before this disease gobbled him up. Each day I had more and more wonderful, funny stories about him, our amazing kids, my great family, our beloved pets and my supportive friends. I was extremely grateful for my life and all the people that had become part of my story.
The process was so cathartic. It helped me focus on the good, happy and positive things. The next steps were harder, digging deep about the abyss of sadness, the horribleness of this disease. I had to get my story on paper. I banged away on my computer for months during the evening when I finished work as a realtor. I thought that maybe my story could be a book, helping others going through dark times to help them know that they too could come out the other side as a new person, a better version of themselves. Yes, still licking the wounds of sadness, but stronger, and more capable, knowing they can get through anything!
As the months went on I learned to practice gratitude. Writing my list of what made me grateful. The day’s became brighter, my outlook cheerier and lovely things began to happen.
I knew not being a caregiver 24/7 would give me my freedom back. I knew that not being fraught with worry about Robert would ease my guilt. That was all an on-going process. I had to give myself time to heal and writing this book was the best medicine for me. As I wrote, I laughed out loud, cried and felt as if my anger and sadness was slowly drifting out of me.
After I had poured out my life on a 90,000 word document, I thought what now?
My friend Jacquelyn, who had written a book a year ago, gave me a few names for an editor. Oh I was being such a professional writer, contacting editors, oh la la
My creative sister designed my book cover. I was able to get title worthy people to read my book so I could use their review for my back cover. Everything seemed to be falling into place. Thank you to all and the Universe!! I was feeling like a boss!
The editing process took months during COVID19 and many parts of my original document were rewritten or pulled out. It was a detailed process, but well worth it. I loved my book. I wanted my book to give the reader emotions of happiness, joy, and sadness but mostly inspiration.
I decided to self publish as my friend who originally was going to be opening her own publishing company stepped down from that idea as COVID19 held her dream hostage. I knew nothing about this self-publishing Amazon undertaking. Thank goodness my kids were able to answer my numerous questions. Believe me there were times when I thought….I can’t do it…….this is too hard…….but I took a break, asked my kids for help and TA DA it got done!
So it was publishing day COVID19 style. Emails, texts, social media posts and phone calls were made. It was exciting!! My first few days, I sold over 50 copies then over the next few months over 200 copies. I was feeling very proud of my accomplishment. The average self-published book sells about 50 copies.
Many people thoughtfully posted 5 star reviews on Amazon and posted about reading my book in their social media. I read them and I felt my heart grow bigger. The kindness of my friends and family supporting me and putting encouraging words to paper or I should say online was incredible. I wish I could throw a party to thank them for the support they have given me, but COVID19 rules and regulations don’t allow that so I send my messages personally to thank them and I hope those words echo how I truly feel.
I would love to use this book as a stepping-stone to speaking publicly around the world concerning the whole process of the journey I took with my husband, about digging myself out from underneath the sadness and growing from it. I would love to have my story made into a movie. I want my message to be heard around the globe at a time when something positive is desperately needed. That seems to be my mission now. I want this book and my message to help the masses.
Life throws too many curve balls at us. Each of us has our own crosses to bear, our own sadness to face. Everyone has his or her own way of dealing with grief. I’m not saying my way is better than anyone else’s. Oh heavens not at all. For some, it’s a short period of time, then they are able to move on with no regrets. For others it takes its toll and the process is longer, deeper perhaps, but required for them to embrace life and move forward when they feel it’s time to do so. I’m hoping that somehow I help each person to get to that next chapter in their lives. Maybe it’s forgiveness, or releasing the anger, or savouring the moments they have now. Or maybe it’s just opening themselves up to all the possibilities life has to offer.
I have had a few people contact me that I had never met before, asking me questions, sharing their own story. No matter what our politics, religion, background, beliefs or where we live, we are all the same. We need to be loved, recognized and cared for. We need to know that we are not alone in our battles, that life does get better. The struggles mould our characters and help us appreciate the good things when they enter our lives.
I still love my work as a realtor and love doing lots of deals for clients to help them in their real estate journeys and dreams. I love it, but it brings lots of craziness at times. I recently made the move to leave the shelter of a team and become an independent realtor. I started my first 3 years on my own. I enjoyed the comradery of supporting each other, bouncing ideas off each other while I worked in a team environment, but after 8 years of being on teams it came time for me to get back to building my own business and I’m thoroughly enjoying it!
I haven’t seen Robert in months. Robert’s aggressive behavior has landed him back in the hospital. Between COVID19 and his behavior, visits have been nonexistent. His verbal skills have been taken from him and his ability to walk independently is rare of Dementia. They are trying a new drug to help with his behavior. He has no concept whatsoever about his circumstances. That, I guess, is the only blessing. When I call for updates, the nursing staff say that he is quiet and not causing too much trouble. They want to make sure his aggressive behavior is in total check before transferring him back to the long-term care home. The staff and facility at the long-term care home isn’t as well equipped for that type of behavior. Other residents are not as young and strong as Robert and the staff are unable to manage his actions. God bless the staff there as they are trying their best but again Robert is young, 58 years old now, and still powerful. Robert would be horrified by all of this. He is getting the absolute best care from a team of doctors and nurses at the hospital. Part of me wishes he could stay at the hospital to receive the continued care, but he will have to move back to the facility eventually. When he does go back to the long-term care home I hope they can manage him and everyone stays safe. But I will cross that bridge when I get to it.
That’s one of the many things I learned with the whole process. Don’t worry about the things I can’t control and deal with the particulars, as they are needed. No sense in getting worked up about something that might not even happen. How I react is the key to how I manage the circumstances.
Concerning my book, I knew I needed help to get me to the next level. I hired a phenomenal marketing company.
They are guiding me through this new process and building my website to create a place where my book sales can grow and my important message can be given to the world.
Social media, blogs, these are all new things for me. I took a fabulous course about building my Instagram, I didn’t even use it before and now I’m on it everyday. I enjoy learning so that is a bonus. I can’t imagine doing all of this with grumpy pants on and a negative attitude ha ha ha ha
I read a post that stated “if you are not learning you are not growing, if you are not growing you are dying” A bit dramatic, but I totally understand. I have to open myself up to learning new things. It is very easy for me to stay safe and keep things calm. Time goes by, so I have to embrace changes and push myself to be a better person. Some changes I welcomed, as I don’t mind taking risks here and there. Other changes can be challenging. I figure the changes in the past made me who I am today and the changes I’m currently going through will create a better world for my future and the changes and challenges in the future….well I can’t worry about those. They will happen when they happen and I will deal with them when I deal with them.
Yesterday was then, tomorrow is what lies ahead and today, well, that is the now and I will savour it!
Irene walker is the author of “Forgiving The Man Who Forgot”. Irene shares a personal family account of her emotional journey as she watches her husband descend into a man she no longer recognizes. Her positive attitude has helped many readers focus on things they can control without withdrawing or avoiding issues that may be directly front and centre in their lives.
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