An Open Letter to Caretakers from the Cared-For

Being a caretaker is not easy.

I know. I’ve watched you work hard for me every day.

Often times, you might think that all of the sacrifices you’ve made are not appreciated the way they should be. Though I may not be able to tell you, I know that if my past self had been able to look into a telescope that showed me the future, then the thankfulness in my heart would swell up in the form of tears that would fill my eyes and spill onto hands that were made for keeping me alive and well as my sickness took control.

I’d see you sacrificing your time to take me to the doctor’s in order to get the medication I need. I’d see you making me meals, feeding me patiently, putting me to bed, cleaning up my messes, and making sure that I’m safe and comfortable. I’d see you remind me time and time again where I am, what my name is, who I love, and that you love me. I’d see you crying because you miss who I used to be, my company, and arms that were able to embrace you and tell you that everything was going be okay.

My love, lift up your head. I know that sometimes you feel like giving up and that none of this matters, but you’re the only reason why I’m still here. I need you, and I want you to know that you are not alone. There are other people who struggle with the same battles you face every day, and a lot of them share your pain. God allows every breath we draw to be inhaled as long as we have a purpose here on Earth, and you and I are still here, even though I am sick. There is meaning in all of this, though your eyes may not always be opened to what that entails.

If I am your Lover: We pledged ourselves to each other, through sickness and in health, and you are doing such a wonderful job at keeping that promise. I loved you then and I love you now, even though I might not be able to show it. When I dream, I can clearly see the day when we first fell in love, and I remember thinking that you would always age more gracefully than me. Memories from our past play like a movie stuck on repeat, and every time I emerge into my dreamy state, I remember that I’ve always loved you more than the day before. When I am awake and trapped inside of a body that is ill, I watch every move you make that helps keep me alive. You’re the only thing that I see, and since the day we found out about my sickness, I could’ve never prayed for a better way to live out the rest of my days. I love you with all of my heart.

If I am your child: I know that you never wanted this type of future for me, but here we are. I came into existence as exactly half of you, but each time that you make a sacrifice for me, a place deep inside of me learns that I want to be more of who you are. You never asked for this, yet you still love me in the same way that you would’ve loved me if you weren’t my caretaker. I know I make things hard on you at times, but you are doing more for me in a day than most other parents are even asked to do for their child in a year. You’re the only one who has dedicated their life to me, and someday, I will be able to look into your eyes, alive and well, and tell you that there are no words to express how thankful I am for you. As a baby, I clung to you for comfort, fell asleep to your soft singing, and relied on you for everything. Today, the same still stands, and you love me just the same. I love you with all of my heart.

If I am your parent: When you were little, I changed your diapers, rocked you to sleep, and taught you how to live and love to the best of my ability. I stayed up late to take care of you when you were sick, I curled up into bed with you when you were scared of the dark, and I let you have the better part of everything I had. Now, you are doing the same things for me. I never wanted to take away these prime years of your life so that you could take care of me, but you did it without hesitation. I may never be able to watch you walk down the isle, hold my grandbabies, or give you advice whenever your life gets rough, but I want you to know that I spent the better parts of my days hoping and late-nights praying that your life would be filled with love and happiness. Though I may not be able to tell you, I still love you just as much as the day you were born. Please be patient with me like I was for you when you were struggling to take your first steps. You will always be my baby.

And for everyone: You are known, you are needed, and being my caretaker is the biggest gesture of love that you could have ever expressed.

I am still that same person that you used to know, you just can’t see it right now. I am hidden behind a cruel hand that the world has dealt me, but I am still here. I can see you, I can hear you, and I live because of you. Someday, I will be able to thank you.

I know you love me even though you get frustrated with me sometimes. And I love you, with all of my heart, and I’m here to remind you that “love” is not an emotion. It’s selfless, patient, kind, and everlasting. It lives in me and it lives in you.

And love does not get sick. Love does not take breaks. Love does not forget.

Love never dies.

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