Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop . . .
Caregivers are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
In the tenement buildings of New York City in the late 19th century, multi-floor apartments were built with bedrooms stacked one on top of the another. Tenants could hear their neighbor upstairs take off a shoe, drop it, and then repeat the action. This became an idiom for waiting for something you knew was coming.
Last month my husband Carl had a terrible fall late at night. He did not have the strength to get up. Instead, he spent 3 hours inching his way into our bedroom to wake me up. Fortunately, he didn’t break any bones but he did have head to toe cuts and bruises.
His recovery has been slow. At 81 he doesn’t heal quickly. His fall reminded me that things can change in a moment. I don’t like unexpected changes.
Events like this set me on a path of worrying.
What could I have done to prevent this fall?
Why didn’t I hear him calling me?
Do I need to change my routine and wait for him before I go to bed?
Will it be worse the next time he falls?
I like to anticipate the future. I want to have solutions for any problems that may arise.
As a caregiver, I have learned that planning for the future is good but being in the moment is even better.
For me, it takes practice to let go of trying to control uncontrollable situations and focus on what is right in front of me.
To break my chain of worries, I pulled out my string of worry beads and set an intention to practice a japa meditation as Carl recovered.
I use a traditional mala of 108 beads. As I finger each bead I repeat my chosen meditation technique. Sometimes I chant or repeat a mantra. Other times I simply breathe in and breath out while holding each bead.
There are many forms of meditation but I find that japa is the best for worries. I am obliged to perform multiple sensory tasks that require my full concentration. I breathe. I repeat the chosen practice as I explore each stone with my fingers before moving to the next.
For this occasion, I choose the mantra, “I am peace. I am enough.”
After I complete 108 repetitions, I am calm, my heart rate is lower, and I feel present in the moment with no worries about the future.
I can then turn my attention to those things I am grateful for in my life.
I am grateful that Carl’s fall was not worse.
I am grateful that his spirits are high.
His humor is delightful and our love for each other deepens every day. Being grateful everyday,