On Caregiving, Surrendering and A Gold Bottle Cap Plaque


That third day at Mayo Clinic, I found myself feeling a little helpless.

We entered the oncology waiting area for the first of two back-to-back appointments Seth had scheduled that morning. The waiting area was loaded, filled with sick people. Maisie was coughing again and I’d learned my lessons on coughing more than once that week already. Seth suggested that Maisie and I go to the atrium where it was quiet. He’d wait alone in the waiting area.

So off we went to the atrium. Maisie and I parked on a couch, and I plopped all our stuff on a nearby chair. In that moment, I felt helpless. I recognized this feeling from days gone by, from my sister’s many years battling addiction and mental illness. Yes, there’s a helplessness that can settle in for caregivers after a while. A time comes when you wonder if you’re really doing any good, if you’re really worth any while. I knew this feeling because I’d lived it. I have, in fact, learned to flee from it. Because not being able to do anything for a loved one is heartbreaking and mind numbing. It makes you want to surrender and say forget it, there’s nothing I have to offer. Yes, I allowed myself to sit in that caregiver helplessness in the Mayo atrium for a minute or two that day. I felt, for a moment, as though it was pointless for Maisie and I to sit there, far from Seth and his oncology appointments.

But this day, God graced me with His viewpoint.

In came a wife pushing her husband in a wheelchair. I’d noticed them the day prior when we were waiting for Seth’s CT scan, and now today in oncology. She talked on the phone as she pushed her husband to the back windowed wall of the atrium. She helped him out of his wheelchair into a regular chair, all the while continuing to talk on the phone. He sat in silence, weak and frail. After a while, she handed the phone to her husband, promptly picked up another phone and began texting. When she was done texting, she broke out a tablet and took some notes, then reviewed what I assumed was a letter detailing what was next on the day’s agenda for her husband. He passed her the phone. And she assisted him back in his wheelchair. Off they went, back to oncology. Yes, this is the role of the caregiver – calling, emailing, texting, pushing, prodding, encouraging, lifting, loving, and verifying this and that. Caregivers manage relationships and medical realities.

I see God. Caregiving isn’t pointless. There’s purpose here. There’s a reason we’ve been assigned to this role. Even when it’s hard. Even when it feels like there’s nothing we can do to help.

After 2 1/2 hours and two appointments with oncology, Seth returned with updates, news and pictures of a gold bottle cap thing called a “plaque.” During surgery, Dr. G will be temporarily stitching the gold plaque to the wall of Seth’s right eye where the tumor is located. Focused radiation will be delivered to the eye over the course of a five-day hospital stay.


Clearly, this gold bottle cap plaque is out of my hands. From a medical standpoint, there’s nothing I can do to help with the events that are about to transpire. I’ll leave that to Dr. G and his colleagues at Mayo.

But I am caregiver. I can be there when Seth gets out of surgery. I can sit by his side when they take the bandages off for the first time, the second time, the third time and so forth. I can drive him home when we’re discharged. I can make our home comfortable for him. I can blog, text, make phone calls and respond to Facebook messages to ensure everyone’s updated along the way. I can keep the kids out of daddy’s hair so he can rest and heal. I can be there for him on the hard days, when doubt and discouragement settle in. I can be positive and supportive when all I really want to do is run and hide. I can believe with him. I can believe for him. I can believe in him. I can love him. I can pray for him. I can surrender my husband’s healing to Jesus, to a mighty God who can and will heal him. And I can rest in peace knowing this role of caregiver has been assigned to me more than once so my eyes might be opened, so my heart might be enlarged, so my faith might be strengthened, so I might understand what it means to trust and love. Even when. Even if. Even so.





  1. Dana johnson says:

    Amy, You are doing an amazing job with these posts…we are praying for you, seth and the kiddos!

  2. Kay Pederson says:

    Praying for you both! Love you and please let us know if you need some help

  3. Joyce Jacobson says:

    Good energy to all of you today

  4. Judy Dorr Nelson says:

    Praying for both you and Seth…….being a caregiver is not an easy job, but with God all things are possible.

  5. Naomi Backstrom says:

    My heart aches for you both. Lean on God his Grace will see you thru. My prayers are with you Seth and Amy.

  6. Carol Femling says:

    Our prayers and love from both dads and moms!! Love you both so much!!

  7. Judy Sandberg says:

    Beautiful, Amy. Our prayers are with Seth and all of his caregivers!

  8. Gretchen Wendt O'Donnell says:

    My prayers are for you too in all of this, not just for Seth!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.