There is a secret club amongst caregivers. Sometimes the experience of caregiving is so extreme, painful, dangerous and exhausting that it cannot easily be described to ‘normal’ friends and family. And when that extreme experience constitutes family life over time…. years, even…. that is when caregivers become secretive. They give up on explaining their lives.
Author, father and caregiver Eric Fischer has written a book of poetry about this secret club titled “I am a Broken Man, You Can’t Break Me.” I was a on plane when I read Fischer’s book. I was forced to rummage around for a pen – I needed to star and underline passages that shot like a needle into my heart. Take this, for example, from Fischer’s introduction:
“The (caregiving) journeys take varied paths but all delve into a brutal spring of short and troubled, yet exquisite existence. Some of whom inspire me are parents to extremely disabled children fraught with complex medical issues. Others, adults, who have had to live vicariously abbreviated moments knowing their confrontation with mortality was at hand. All have honed my belief that through sharing our innermost fears, exposing our weaknesses and delving into this role as caregiver, on the deepest level, our spirits are strengthened.”
Or this from this piece of fearless short prose called “Valor” –
How can I feel, after all these years of selfless caring for destitute son, that he is now an apparition I have been chasing?
Trying to convince others of his existence; that they should care as I do. Where is he if not only in my mind? ……
And, I keep my hair neatly cropped for fear of appearing disheveled, controlling more so those things since control is awash in fear. How I long for that fine lather of contentment, not brought out of necessity but rather from a lack of necessity.
And the poetry is beautiful too.
Cohorts on this path of love;
And finally, I have to share this poem. This is the one that really got me.
I kiss his hand. It is damp as he flickers in and out of troubled consciousness.
Do you understand? I’m here, watching him, watching over him.
He seems everywhere, in everything and yet I must keep
him contained, in this tiny little life where anything is
Please buy this book for yourself, or for someone you know who shares this secret life of extreme caregiving.
I AM A BROKEN MAN
YOU CAN’T BREAK ME – Collected Works of Poetry 1995-2014
by Eric Fischer
An Anthology of Poems on Extreme Disability, End of Life and Caregiving
Eric Fischer blogs at http://iamabrokenmanyoucantbreakme.blogspot.ca/