Dear friend, when Colin said that he wanted his writings published, I can honestly say that I had no idea where this would lead. Colin wrote some poems and reflections on different incidents that happened to him in the military, but they were in fragmentary form. I felt that writing a framework for them would make more sense, and this framework became the story of Colin’s life as a veteran in civilian life, and of the devastating impact that his history and disability had on him. This enables his story to be told in a fuller way.
Yet it is scary to tell this kind of story, because it is so very personal. And I am a very private person – as some of you know! So having the courage to do this, is immense. What I have discovered, is that it is easier for me to write this down, than to try and have a conversation about it all, as it is so complex, emotional, and at times harrowing.
And so I need to apologise to friends and colleagues who maybe feel bewildered that I didn’t share more of Colin’s story with them before. When I look back, it was easier to compartmentalise my life, in order to give it any semblance of normality. It was a relief at times to be out the house, talking about normal things, to laugh, to play, and this space to be was literally a Godsend.
I have listened to other carers grappling with this issue, about not wanting to talk about a loved one’s illness, especially when it is ongoing. It is easier to respond to the question ” how is so and so?” with the response ” up and down” than to give a long description of the details – eg for Colin – that he was affected by a seizure, depressed over memories from a military incident, or struggling with difficult behaviours because of a mood swing. There can be a lot of shame over difficult behaviours, and on many occasions I didn’t have the energy to explain things to myself, never mind anyone else.
In these years, I was blessed with a small but lovely group of supportive and prayerful friends, whom I saw regularly, and who listened beautifully. However as I was a carer, mum and worked full time, I didn’t have the capacity to always share what was going on to a wider circle. And I regret if people feel I was not as forthcoming as I might have been – I was not trying to be hurtful – just to live out each day. My primary focus was to support Colin.
And so I ask for forgiveness and understanding, for my coping mechanism in an ongoing stressful situation, was largely to keep things to myself. God was the One who was my Confidant, and who gave me strength each day. Meantime I thank everyone who accompanied me in this journey, as I value all of you, whether I was sharing things in more or in less detail. Whether it was laughing or crying, your support was invaluable.
” Love bears all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 7
Prayer – Gracious God, what an amazing friend you give to us in Christ Jesus,
A friend, who is closer than a brother, who lifts up my soul.
Teach us all to value our friendships, to treasure times spend together, to be kind,
And to connect in a rich variety of ways, to support and encourage one another, Amen