When my husband tested positive for COVID-19, life got hard.
Sure, it was hard for him ... very hard. But it was also hard for me.
I was caring for him while working full time and keeping up with the normal household chores including laundry, cooking and doing dishes.
What I couldn't do was complain. It just didn't feel appropriate.
More than 300,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, leaving behind a few million family members, friends and co-workers who are mourning their loss. I still had my husband, as sick as he was. How could I complain?
And then there are our wedding vows from 16 years ago that called for us to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health. Hadn't I signed up for this? He has certainly stepped up multiple times when I've been sick. This was my turn to repay the favor. Complain? Never.
Still, it was hard.
But there were bright spots, and that's what I want to focus on now.
My sister offered to do my weekly grocery shopping – twice. She and my niece were a godsend. They each pushed a cart through the store, with my niece in charge of my list. What a blessing it was when they left the bags on our front porch so I could carry them in without exposing them.
My friends Dianna and Harry also offered to make a grocery run on Christmas Eve. That morning I'd used the last of our butter and bread for toast – about the only thing my husband would eat. They delivered those items and a couple more to our front door. They are awesome friends.
My parents also came through by surprising us with homemade Swedish meatballs and dropping them off one day. On another day, my dad brought soup from Bob Evans. They were delicious meals and exactly what we needed on those days.
Some of the most touching moments were when I read emails from our supervisors at the newspaper. For those who don't know, my husband and I met in the newsroom, so we share many of the same supervisors.
Every time they checked in on hubby, they also asked how I was doing. They recognized the stress and challenge of caring for someone so sick. Their acknowledgment of my situation somehow made it easier for me to keep going. I felt seen. And even though I wasn't complaining, I felt heard.
One email in particular stood out to me. I'd like to quote from it now for the benefit of anyone wondering what's the right thing to say to a caregiver. You can't go wrong by starting with this:
“You must be overwhelmed right now. I can't imagine how stressed you are.”