What Time Away From My Husband Taught Me About Love

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by Jaime Christmas |

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On April 1, Malaysia’s borders reopened to international travelers following COVID-19-related closures, and I finally had the pleasure of visiting my family who lives there. I hadn’t seen them in more than three years, so after spending two weeks of quality time together, saying goodbye and returning home to New Zealand was extremely hard.

The uncertainties of life, compounded by the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, have made overseas travel difficult. Flying internationally has become quite tedious, due to COVID-19 test requirements and the possibility of circumstances changing quickly should another highly contagious variant emerge. I suppose this is the new normal for people across the world.

The greatest takeaway from my trip has been the overwhelming feeling of being missed by my family. It has taken me 52 years to view the people I left behind through a new set of eyes. Perhaps they have always treated and valued me the same, but I am now overcome by their utter love.

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Now that I’m back in Auckland, I’ve had time to process my trip and look deep within myself to determine why I feel this way. I am encouraged and invigorated from spending time with my father, brother, and sister, and their respective partners and children. It warms my heart to learn that despite the loss of my mother last year, they’re all doing OK and living life the way Mum would have wanted.

Perhaps the responsibilities and strain of being a caregiver to an ailing spouse have made me lose sight of how it feels to be emotionally fulfilled. I’m not saying that I’m not treasured and cherished by my husband, Aubrey, and our children. But at this point in my life, nine years after Aubrey was diagnosed with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis, I’ve become detached and somewhat desolate. I have been disappointed, let down, and heartbroken too many times. As a caregiver, I have distanced myself from personal feelings because it’s easier to view situations matter-of-factly. It hurts too much when I allow tenderness and empathy into my life.

The time spent away from my husband therefore highlighted how sterile I’ve become in my relationship with him. I had forgotten that even though he’s an amyloidosis sufferer, he is also the man I love and married 27 years ago. To be loved, I first must love — something I lost sight of and now must recover.

So if you’re a caregiver, I hope you can take stock of the people around you. Recognize how loved you are and know that, no matter the prevailing circumstances, there are people in your life who will always love you and believe you’re unique. Close your eyes and envision yourself as the person being cared for. Fill up your tank and lift up your spirits. Pray a word of thankfulness.

Theologian Albert Schweitzer said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.


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