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Chronic Illness - Chronic Pain Articles Available to Read and Reprint

A Letter to Caregivers From a Woman Who Lives with a Chronic Illness

By Connie Kennemer

This week I read a letter that made my heart wince.  It came from a desperate young woman living with the ravages of chronic pain. Her words, however, depicted not her own despair, but her husband’s. She tearfully described the sorrow and panic and guilt she felt as she realized that it was her condition that was holding him under the angry waves that threatened to destroy him.

Her words begged response as she called out for someone— anyone!—to help this man who was sinking under the heavy burden of her pain. The climax of her cry came in this sentence: "I love him so much that I even thought of leaving him so he wouldn’t have to see me like this...or deal with all of this." Her words cut through my mental landscape like a machete. I was taken back by the range of emotions it stirred.

My mind flashed to scenes from a movie I had recently rented the movie "Simon Birch." I fell in love with this miniature twelve-year-old who was wise beyond both his size and his years. In a gut-wrenching scene that you hope only happens in the fantasy of novels or the silver screen, Simon is responsible for the bizarre accidental death of his best friend’s mother.

The trauma is cruelly magnified by the fact that the woman he "killed" was his surrogate mother—the only loving mother-figure Simon had ever known. I am still haunted by the gripping scene when Simon straddles the lonely bridge and breaks the silence with a cry meant for heaven’s ears—"I’m sorry! I’m sorry!!"

I have been a traveler on that bridge. I, too, have "apologized" to heaven—and to all those who are wounded because I am wounded. I’m sorry that Rex’s life has had to readjust to my illness. I’m sorry that many of his dreams for our family have been scrubbed. I’m sorry for ways MS has impacted my son... my parents... my friends. If those I love could only know how sorry I am...

For all the caregivers that spend themselves—some willingly, others because they must—hear me on behalf of all those who suffer with chronic illness or constant pain. As you battle hopelessness, helplessness, depression, anger, frustration, know this: Our suffering is intensified by the losses that our diseases have inflicted on you.

We did not choose the path we stumble down. We still grapple to accept our condition and struggle not to blame ourselves for the debri that it has dumped on you. But in our weakness, we offer each of you this gift—our "catharsis", if you will— We are sorry. WE ARE SORRY! Thank you, Simon Birch, for the moving scene of a broken person on a bridge we all must cross. And in the crossing, find ourselves more whole.

Connie Kennemer is a woman who lives with multiple sclerosis. Connie is one of the founding members of Moms in Touch International and she recently released her third praise CD, Heart Journeys. Vist her website at

Reprinted from ...And He Will Give You Rest
monthly support newsletter, Volume ii1, Issue 8. © 1999





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